Saturday, April 14, 2012

¡Ay Caramba! Honeybear don't care.

When we woke up for our first morning in Barcelona, I was completely wiped out, so I decided it was going to have to be a day of rest for me. Mom, Sarah and Dad headed out to La Rambla and stopped at la boqueria, which is the largest market in the world for lunch. Then they stopped by the Sagrada Familia to see the very cool designs of Gaudi.

After lunch, Sarah decided she was ready for a break too, so she came back to our apartment while Mom and Dad checked out the Picasso museum. We made a plan to meet for dinner. And then we made two back up plans in case we couldn't find each other, because Barcelona is so confusing, lol. Luckily there was no need for back up plans; we found each other right away and wandered into Barceloneta, which is a section of the city right on the water. It was beautiful walking along the beach and looking back at the city.

The lovely coast on one side....

And the city on the other!

We decided to eat at a seafood restaurant that our guidebook recommended right on the water. It was delish, we started out with our favorite tapas in Spain, chiperones, which are tiny fried squid (yes, I ate a few- they really were yummy!), and some fried artichokes. Then for dinner Sarah and Dad got a big old pot of paella, which they really wanted to eat in Spain. They loved it! I got some delicious veal, and Mom got some scallops. And by some, I mean two. Her dinner kind of sucked, womp womp. Overall it was a fun night seeing the coast of Barcelona!

The next morning, we headed back down to La Rambla because Sarah wanted to show us a cool pottery store. Since I hadn't seen la boqueria yet, we stopped in there for lunch, and it was so amazing! I'm so glad I got to see it. There are just hundreds and hundreds of stalls full of fresh, delicious food. And spices, and candy, and basically anything you can think of buying. We bought some delicious chicken kabobs and a few fried potato items (the Spanish do fried food right), and also got a selection of chocolates from one of the candy stalls. Everything was really yummy, I'm thinking we need to open up a boqueria in Greenville, asap.

You better believe we got us some of these!
Ramon, our trusty kabob guy

After lunch we found the pottery shop, and it was so cool! Each table in the shop was filled with pottery from a different region in Spain, and it was all absolutely gorgeous. I love how colorful everything is in Spain. After the pottery shop, we started heading to the Gothic quarter, where we were supposed to meet the guide for our Barcelona Segway tour. We stopped at a little cafe along the way for some churros and hot chocolate-yum! Remember how I told you that Spanish hot chocolate is so thick you can eat it with a spoon? Well, another option is to take some fried dough, roll it in sugar and dip that in the hot chocolate. Spain for the win.

After wandering around the Gothic quarter for a while, we met Edgar, our Segway tour guide. After our amazing Paris Segway tour, we couldn't resist trying out the one in Barcelona. It is just such a great way to see so much of the city and learn a ton about the history too, especially when you don't have a lot of time. Edgar was a great guide, he is from a little town outside of Barcelona and so he really had a ton of interesting stories and insight into the city. He also was having some tooth pain and kept popping pain pills, so that was a little bit hilarious. We saw the old Roman walls that used to surround the original city, the steps where Christopher Columbus left to go back the the Americas on his second trip, and all kinds of other cool monuments and buildings. My favorite part of this tour though, were all the cool little back streets, as well as the great restaurant recommendations that Edgar gave out!

The oldest fountain in Barcelona! You can still drink out of it...but we didn't. We came back to this spot for dinner, that's the restaurant to the left of the fountain.

Edgar talking about his toothache, lol

Us with the Christopher Columbus steps in the background

Sculpture that looks like a conquistador hat from the front....

And fish from the side!

After the tour was over, we first walked back to a candy store that was pointed out on the tour- we just can't resist a homemade candy store! In this one you can actually watch them making it, so that was really cool. Then we made our way over to one of the recommended restaurants for dinner, but it was only 6:30 and the Spanish people don't eat dinner until 9:30-10, so the restaurant was closed. So we did the most Spanish thing we could think of- we went to have tapas and wine until it was dinner time, lol! We lucked into a place that was offering free sangria with your tapas- score! So, after first dinner we walked back to the restaurant at 8, where we found that it was still closed. Womp, womp. We decided to wait it out until they opened at 8:30.....such a good choice!

Mom sitting outside the ancient Roman walls with her bubble wrap

Tapas and sangria!

Getting a little bored waiting around for the restaurant to open

By the time the restaurant opened, there were lots of people waiting outside. We were the first ones in, thank goodness, because it turns out this was a reservations type place, and we got the only non reserved table in the place. When our food arrived, it was clear why it was so packed, it was delicious! And it was just a very charming, intimate little restaurant, it was absolutely perfect for our last night in Europe. The bottles of wine and cava (Spanish champagne) helped to make it the perfect meal! Those two probably contributed a little to the title of this blog post, but I'm pretty sure I can't even begin to explain the joke. So let's just say there was a lot of laughter happening.

Last but not least, I give you our favorite picture of the entire trip. This was outside a random clothing store in Barcelona, for no reason that we could figure out. See you in June honeybear!

It was a wonderful last day to an absolutely amazing trip. We are happy to be headed home- especially to see Maddie!!!- but are sad to have to say goodbye to Sarah again. At least this time it's not for very long! I don't think I could have enjoyed this trip anymore (although we all wished Kat could have been there too!). I'm still a French girl through and through, but I'm so glad I got to see Spain, and I have to admit they certainly do a few things pretty darn well (hot chocolate! fried meat!). I saw some of the most beautiful places in the world, and ate some of the best food I've ever eaten, all with some of my favorite people- I'd call that a win!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Costa Brava!

As we headed south to leave Spain, I was definitely sad that our time in France was at an end (in case you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm a pretty hardcore Francophile). But I was certainly ready to pass the translator hat to Sarah, and luckily for all of us, Sarah's Spanish is about eight million times better than my French.

On our way out of St. Rémy, we stopped at Glanum, an ancient ruined Roman village, but since we had a long day of driving ahead of us, we decided to skip it when we realized it was going to take while to get through it. But mom did get to take a picture with an olive tree, so it wasn't a wasted stop, lol.

On our drive out of France, we saw some of the most absolutely beautiful scenery that I will probably ever see in my life. The snow capped Pyrenees were to our right, and the beautiful Mediterranean ocean was on our left. It was just unbelievable to see those two extremes all in one car. The vineyards were also cool to see in this area, as they were all growing on incredibly streep hillsides. Glad I'm not the one that has to pick those suckers!

On our right side....

And on our left side....pretty amazing!

The vineyards on hills

Finally, we crossed into Espagna and after that it was a quick drive to Roses, where our hotel was located. We were right on the sea, which was pretty cool! As soon as we got checked in, we hopped back into the car and took the 20 minute windy (in both pronunciations of that word!) road to Cadaques, a small, beautiful town that we wanted to check out. We actually intended to visit the Dali museum there, but arrived to late, so instead we did a little bar hopping to try out some Spanish tapas! Muy delicioso! We did a little bit of wandering around Cadaques, but they had a mistral-like wind going on that was VERY cold, so mostly we just drank wine and ate food and admired the picture perfect scenery. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, let me tell you.

The view from the hotel in Roses
The beautiful Town of Cadaques

Our first pinchos (tapas), yum!

Little restaurant on the sea

I was probably hiding in an alleyway, it was too coooold for me on the water!

Dad's dinner

Tuesday morning, we got up and hopped back in the car(woohoo!), but only after dipping our feet in the Mediterranean right outside the hotel. Brrrrrr! It was time to drive to Tossa de Mar, my new favorite place in Spain. And since we took the highway instead of back roads, it actually took an acceptable amount of time to get there.

I am so cold! Shoes back on please!

Dad's feet in the Mediterranean

Tossa de Mar was absolutely incredible. There aren't enough adjectives in the world to describe the beauty of this place, I'm so glad we went! We spent most of our time there walking around and dropping our jaws. Every time you turned a corner the view was more amazing. When we reached the veeeerry top, there was a restaurant, and we couldn't turn down food with that kind of view! We had some more yummy tapas and sangria. And Sarah and I had hot chocolate, and let me tell you, the hot chocolate in Spain is like nothing I have ever tasted. It's basically like a melted candy bar, it's so thick you can eat it with a spoon. That sounds a little gross, but it is seriously one of the best things I've ever tasted!

It's so beautiful!

Little restaurant at the very top...

With this for a view! Woot woot!

Post sangria shot

After our absolutely lovely afternoon in Tossa de Mar, we made the 1.5 drive to Barcelona, which was relatively peaceful until we were actually IN Barcelona, at which point it was just crazy town. After getting lost a few times, we finally realized that we had to drive partway down what appeared to be a sidewalk, and then down a couple of roads that were much narrower than most driveways. Once we FINALLY made it to our apartment, Sarah and Dad took the car back to the rental place (God bless them), experiencing even more "fun" driving in Barcelona.

Goodbye, Picasso! You were a blessing at times, but we will not miss you!

We were pretty exhausted from the day, so we decided to walk around close to our apartment and just around the corner was an adorable Italian place. Kind of silly to eat Italian on our first night in Barcelona, but it was really good and we had an adorable waiter who was from Rome. Tomorrow and Thursday we will get acquainted with Barcelona on foot, which I'm anticipating will be much better than Barcelona in the car!