Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sexy Barcelona

I'm going to start this one a bit out of order.

We got home from our Barcelona trip at 3 am on Tuesday Sept 18, and now it's the evening on Sunday Sept 23.  Yes work is busy, and after the daily routine it's hard to find the energy to write.  But I'm feeling rested now, so there should be multiple posts in short succession to get us caught up.

Heading to work at 6:45 am, as proven by this beautiful sunrise, instead of writing blog posts

On a technical note, I found out Kerry was uploading the full size, high-res images to Picasa (1 GB limit).  After only 4 weekends worth of pictures, I had to delete all of them only to reupload the compressed versions (800 pixels, 1/60th the digital size); a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Since all the photos here are linked to Picasa, it will take some time to get the links working again with the correct captions.  Or I may just recaption everything differently for my own entertainment.  Anyway, the current lack of pictures from past posts should only be temporary.

Before I talk about Sexy Barcelona, I want to give a big shoutout to our friend Big Sexy from Crossfit Indy North who came to visit during his work trip.  We were totally bummed we couldn't spend more time with him over the weekend since we had to catch our plane on Saturday.  However we made the most of our short visit by stopping for some Indian food, then we goofed around in Sainsburys.  We made it back to the house for some conversation and beers.  It was a memorable 5 year anniversary for Kerry and I!

I'm all about the London Pride, but leave that marmite on the shelf!

Big Sexy is fun to hang out with

We left at 4:30 am on Saturday morning to head to Stansted airport, a 2+ hour drive.  We booked this trip before we really understood how far away the airport was - lesson learned, as this was a miserable drive for me (Kerry slept).  We caught our cheap flight on Ryan Air -I somehow sat in the row that had no window, which was weird.  Hey at least we got two seats together near the front - I passed out immediately anyway.

We forgot to print our Barcelona subway vouchers so I did it at the airport - 1 pound for 10 min of internet + 1 pound per printed page, oops.

Once in the subway on our way toward some sangria, the extra 3 pounds didn't hurt so much
Since we arrived around noon on Saturday, we had plenty of time to explore.  Being the ignorant American that I am, I found out quickly that the version of Spanish I am comfortable with is not spoken here.  Most people do speak Spanish (the Castillian version, which uses the "you all" verb conjugation), but the main language is Catalan.  It's no big deal, everyone also speaks English, making me feel somewhat spoiled.

Our first stop was to a touristy area called the Ramblas with an open air market where Kerry got some amazingly colorful pictures.
Tiny flower bouquets

Jamon Iberico - an amazing flavor, hard to find in the USA and ridiculously expensive, here it goes for 59 euros/kilo.

Who can take a rainbow, and wrap it in a sigh?  Soak it in the sun and make strawberry lemon pie?

Forget Whole Foods, we're in Spain!

Dragonfruit snack

We ate our first dinner at a restaurant hiding in a small sidestreet in the Barri Gothic area of Barcelona.  After winding through some narrow alleys, we showed up 15 minutes late for our 8 pm reservation, and were still the first people in the restaurant.

We had no 3G google maps, just had to trust my tourist map and sense of direction, which failed me numerous times

We wrapped dinner up before 10, just as the restaurant was starting to fill up - I never understood coffee after a late dinner; we stopped at the beach on the way home.

The better part of Sunday was spent at the beach, ordering 1.50 euro Estrella beers from guys who go to the corner market and get shopping bags full of them for 1 euro, and then walk around the beach selling them.  I was happy to oblige with the markup.  I took no pictures at the beach, for good reasons ;).  

After we had enough sun, Kerry pulled me away from the beach and we got some paella from a bar, and went back into the city for a cable car ride to catch some good views.

Spotted a parrot!
The cable car goes up to a castle with some vistas of the city and the sea; I experimented with the camera zoom on some famous Barcelona builidings.

Rockin' the tanktop while using public transportation?  Check.
Sagrada Familia

Torre Agbar
Watching the cruise ships leave the harbor

Views from the castle
Gaudi's Casa Batllo at night - on the way to dinner

For dinner we hit up a seafood place - we were smarter this time, making our reservation at 9 pm, so we were the 4th party to arrive (all Americans) instead of the first.  At 10:30, I asked for the check with the intention of hitting up some beachside lounges and clubs.  However, things started to spiral downhill on the way.  The metro ride to the hip part of the beach got us both drowsy, so we decided to turn around at 11:45, as all the young people, fresh as daises, headed toward the club.  Now I understand why everyone drinks coffee at night!

I did manage to buy a bottle of wine to go from a restaurant that was just wrapping up its dinner service; the kind waiter provided two styrofoam cups as well, to keep us classy - his suggestion was to head to the beach.   However, I got turned around on the way back to the hotel, setting off in the completely wrong direction which caused us to miss the last train (midnight).  The exhaustion from the walk home - I was out of euros for a cab - coupled with our drowsiness led to us crashing instead of drinking the wine (I managed a few sips).  Yeah we admitted defeat to the Spaniards, well played.  

On Monday we visited the Sagrada Familia basilica.  I went on and on about the York Minster a while back, and the Sagrada Familia has a similar jaw-dropping effect when you first go inside.  However, it is for a completely different reason.  Where the York Minster was completed in the 1400's, after maybe 400 years of construction, and is the tombsite for royalty and priests; the Sagrada Familia only started the groundwork in the late 1800's, and the exterior is not yet complete.  During our visit, it was another busy day of construction.  They were also working on something inside, so the entire time inside the sound of grinding stone reverberated through the chambers, masking the organ melodies.  Some might think it to be unpleasant (it is a church after all), but I think it speaks to the unfinished nature of the project.  I think Gaudi would be proud of me.

I held the camera the wrong way for this, but the irony of "a space for silence and meditation" did not go unnoticed.

The Sagrada will be done in only 18 more years thanks to stone cutting machine technology, although the original plan had it all done by hand.  I'm just going to throw a bunch of amazing pictures at you, although they do not do it justice.  You should visit this place before you die.

A forest of stone pillars

After lunch it was time for even more Gaudi at the park Guell.  Lunch is always harder to find than one would think -  we stopped off the metro in the most expensive part of the city (Eixample) looking for some cheap streetfood, oops.  Nothing under 15 euros, but eventually we made do at a decent mid-class pizza place.  We were the first customer at 12:30 pm.  Sometimes this is how things work out when you don't have a plan ahead of time.  Afterward, to get to the park we rode an outdoor escalator.

Enough, more pictures!

A view of the castle from the previous day

A Gaudi aquaduct

I'm the guy with the maps.  We did see a Crossfitter from NorCal here, so we shook hands and laughed at our tshirts. 

Gingerbread houses?

As you can tell by now, Barcelona is a great place to take pictures (except the beach we were at).  And I know that the pictures of this stuff has been taken billions of times by tourists, and will be taken a billion times more.  But hey, there's a good reason for that - people know beauty when they see it.  Barcelona is a sexy town; the architecture, the people, and the food.    It's gonna attract cameras.

It was a rude return home after a blissful 3 days.  Late flight, long line through immigration, and a 2 hour drive.   I had to pull out all my night driving tricks to get us home - pinching my inner thighs, rolling the windows down, squeezing the back of my neck.  Made it home safely though, and I even made it to work before 9 am the next day.


  1. Great pics Jeff, particularly the colourful ones and basilica.

    Funny foreign public transportation mess up stories, welcome to the clueless club. But don't worry, you'll get smarter after a couple trips.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence! Sometimes I think we spend more time in transportation than not.