22 July 2014

Mediterranean Travels, Part 1: Barcelona

Those of you who follow me on Instagram couldn't have missed that I was off having some European adventures last month! Since I've neglected posting about my personal life lately and this trip was the most exciting thing I've done in a long time,  I thought I'd share some of my travel photos on the blog. Brandon's parents took our immediate family on this very special trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Our first stop was Barcelona, where we would be boarding our cruise to Venice.

Barcelona: We ended up having very little time to explore Barcelona. We arrived there in the afternoon, feeling exhausted from our travels and greasy from going on day 3 wearing the same clothes. Our plan was to check into the hotel, take a shower and a nap, and go out exploring that night. But upon check-in, we learned that we had to board our cruise ship the next morning at 10AM, when it had been our understanding that we had the full following day to explore the city. Upon realizing that we had only hours to see this city we'd heard so many people claim was their favorite in all of Europe, I definitely panicked a little bit. We quickly discussed our options and picked Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia and strolling Las Ramblas as our top priorities. And off we went into a taxi, with only excitement as our fuel!

I'm a serious fan of Antonio Gaudi's work, yet somehow seeing La Sagrada Familia in person still managed to exceed my expectations! I could spend hours mesmerized by the unique details of the exterior alone. Seeing a modern cathedral that has been under construction for over a century is beyond inspirational and reminiscent of Europe's great Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals. So rarely in our time does an artist begin a work knowing that it will not be complete in his or her lifetime. The idea of creating something that is bigger than ourselves-- something to think about! 

Anyways, wishing we could linger for longer but aware of our time constraint, we hopped into another taxi bound for Plaça de Catalunya. From there we began our stroll down Las Ramblas-- a beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian mall connecting Plaça de Catalunya to Christopher Columbus Monument near the harbor.

One highlight along Las Ramblas was La Boqueria Market. Barcelona is known for its lively and colorful food markets, and this large one is the perfect place to stop and wander the aisles, sampling fruit juices and tapas. I could not even handle all of the giant ham hocks hanging everywhere! One thing we observed during our short stay in Barcelona is that these people love their jamón

Another highlight was stumbling across Plaça Reial after getting ice cream on a random side street. Next time I'm in Barcelona, I'm for sure stopping in this beautiful square for a glass of sangria with a side of people watching!

At about this point, exhaustion began to wear on us, so we ate dinner and headed back to our hotel at around the time most people seemed to be just going out for the evening. As much as I'd like to go back in time and stay out past midnight, I must say that I slept gloriously that night. The next morning, we packed up our bags once again and ate a delicious Spanish breakfast at our hotel. Why aren't there more excuses in life to eat churros with chocolate sauce for breakfast?? (This is a real question.) 

This last photo is me sitting on my hotel windowsill in Barcelona, longing to come back soon and tour the Picasso Museum where we had to cancel our reservations. And see more Gaudi designs, and explore the harbor area that I've heard is so beautiful. And eat more churros. *Sigh* One day!

Barcelona is a city I'd looked forward to seeing but always heard such mixed reviews about. Some say it's a beautiful city to get lost in, and some say you're lucky to get out of there without being pick pocketed. In the little time we spent there, I honestly didn't experience anything that felt sketchy. The taxi drivers were extremely friendly and pretended to be impressed with my limited knowledge of Spanish. My best attempt to sum up the overall vibe I got from Barcelona-- Paris meets Mexico City. (Does that make sense?) It honestly doesn't rank in my favorite European cities, but it was unlike anywhere else I've ever been, and I'd love to go back someday! But for now, we were on our way to France...

Have any of you spent time in Barcelona? What were your highlights?

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