Thursday, June 30, 2016

Spain: Barcelona Finale

After a few hours wandering The Sagrada Familia, we were exhausted and famished, so off we wandered to find dinner.

More apartments to love

Make sure to stop in and feast at Palo Santo, it was some of the best tapas of the trip, and that is really saying A LOT.  First, their pitcher of sangria is a *spiced* sangria and it is fantastic. Enough such that we JUST HAD TO get a second pitcher. I sampled A. LOT. of sangria on this trip. This was the best one of not only the trip, but the best I have ever had. And I make a killer sangria! We enjoyed gorgonzola and salmon croquettes, potatoes in red sauce, shared a burger, and a few shots of palosanto. What is this shot you ask? Why it is happiness in a small glass of course! It is freshly pureed mango, passion fruit, and an untranslated fruit liquor. A great end to the meal.

Palo Santo: Spiced sangria pitcher #1 of 2

Palo Santo: Potatoes and red sauce

Palo Santo: Gorgonzola and salmon croquettes

Palo Santo shares on of our life mantras

Falling into a heavy food coma, we slept in the next morning. We opted for an active and outside final day, especially as it was the most cerulean the sky had been since our arrival in Barcelona. So we walked all the way to and hike up the mountain to Monjuic Castle. The castle complex is neat, the canons surround it, and the fountains and gardens all around it and on the mountain.

Wanting to get some good arial views of the city, we opted to pay for the tram ride down the mountain.

Lunch was a La Tasquerta de Blai, and it cemented my obsession with all things tapas and sangria.

La Tasquerta

La Tasquerta: What to pick for the next round!!??!!

La Tasquerta: My first pick is always the sangria!

La Tasquerta: Why Adam had such decision difficulty....

La Tasquerta

La Tasquerta

La Tasquerta: We made a friend. Well, Adam made a friend. He LOVED Adam.

La Tasquerta

La Tasquerta

We then went back to our hotel to pack up for an early flight out and take a small nap (a.k.a. land in a food coma) for the afternoon. The evening was spent leisurely strolling the neighborhood and highlighting the trip. Due to still being mostly not hungry from lunch but knowing the was no time for breakfast in the morning, we stopped of for a small final appetizer before saying farewell to the day and the country.

La Clara Restaurant: Shaved jamon iberico, mozzarella cheese with basil tamponade, and a rocket salad

And miraculously we did not come back from this trip morbidly obese. I fully credit that to the fact that we walked absolutely everywhere. We averaged 25,000 steps (10+ miles) per day, so that helped negate all of this delicious and un-regretted gluttony.

But yes. An amazing trip to say the least. I continue to be grateful that we are able to experience all of this amazingness that the world has to offer, granted we work our butts off in order to be able to.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spain: The Sagrada Familia

The infamous Sagrada Familia.

So this building deserves its own post.
It is the most "touristy" thing that we did the entire trip, and it was amazing.
Honestly, from the outside, while the architecture was awesome, it didn't looks that much more awesome than the many cathedrals that we have seen over the years. AND THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE. Seriously. SO MANY PEOPLE around this place. It was off-putting.
But everyone said it was worth it. All of the guide books said that you have to do it. All of the online reviews for it was ridiculously high. So, we did it.

I am glad we did it.

It was worth it. You do have to do it. It is worth the high accolades.

Note: It is the most popular thing to do in Barcelona, so you need to buy your tickets in advance or plan on waiting a few hours between "time you purchase your tickets" and the "time your tickets let you in". There is that much of a demand. We went on a week day, in the off season, and still had to wait many hours.

Despite all of the people milling about outside, everything around the building was organized and efficient, and the inside was the same. Despite all of the people, it didn't feel as crowded as it actually was.

So enjoy the view:

Consumed during the wait for our entry time

I absolutely fell in love with the stained glass and the reflective colors. It is so surreal and captivating.

View from one of the spires

The staircase down one of the spires: We took the elevator up and walked the stairs down. It was dizzying!

If you find yourself in Barcelona, you will regret the trip if you don't find yourself at The Sagrada Familia.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spain: Barcelona

With an all too early train departure time, we found our way out of San Sebastian and on to Barcelona for the final city of our trip. It was an awesome five hours on the train cruising through awesome landscapes of vibrant green mountains (remember, we live in the desert, so all of the color was like technicolor for us!), vast river valleys, terraced farm lands, and rocky sand fields.

So we have now visited most of the major cities in Spain, between this one and a trip with did a few years ago. Barcelona sealed the deal that Spain is one of my favorite countries in the entire world.
The people. The history. The culture. The food. Just the lifestyle and feeling felt like slipping much loved hoodie.

Now let's take a walk around the city. This city is meant to be navigated on foot!

Mercado under revamp

The city was in the midst of an afternoon with sporadic rain showers, so we were bouncing in an out of places to avoid the rain drops.

La Fabrica Empanadas:

Somehow we narrowed it down to a sample of only four!

One of the best surprises was a ramen and craft beer restaurant that we happened across: Grasshopper Ramen Bar. It was incredible. It is a small place, so I highly recommend going off peak meals times, or be willing to wait. Don't get me wrong, it is COMPLETELY worth the wait!

Grasshopper Ramen Bar: Hello ramen, my belly is super excited to have found you!

Grasshopper Ramen Bar:

We just looked! Surprise! We did NOT buy and sample something!

Local mercado

Seafood department

A craft beer microbrewery?!?! Should we stop? Haha, like there was even a real decision to be made with the man that I am married to. But this place is a good one: Garage Beer Company.

Garage Beer Company

Garage Beer Company are going to see a few picture of random buildings. If you think it is too many, just imagine how many pictures I must have taken, as what I have selected to post is an extremely small portion of the apartment buildings that I fell obsessively in love with. Barcelona is a city filled with absolutely gorgeous architecture and detail in their buildings. Everything just feels elegant and classic. I would love to live in any of them.

Barcelona is a city for socializing over fine libations. One of our favorites was Brew Dog. It is an international chain that specializes in selling craft beers from all over the world.

Brew Dog

Brew Dog: A bar with craft beer flights and battleship...Adam's perfect place!

I would LOVE to live here!

Or here... many incredible options!

One of the places that all of the tour books tell you to visit is the Casa Batllo, designed by Antoni Gaudi (who designed the Segrada Familia - the NEXT post of the this blog). Honestly, we did not visit this place, nor did we really have any interest in it. It was enough just to walk by and see it, and with the throngs of people that were packed around it (camera is strategically high to keep them out of the frame), it was more than pleasing to pass by and not deal with it. It really is a neat building though. If in the city, it is worth a walk by...but I don't feel that we missed  out on anything.

Casa Batllo by Gaudi

Casa Batllo by Gaudi

Casa Batllo by Gaudi

Another building that I loved

Yep, I could love living here too!

Awesome apartments!

What a wonderful afternoon and evening walking around the city.