I’ve been Basque-ing (ha!) in the awesomeness that was Barcelona. Thanks to all our friends there, Barcelona is easily one of the highlights of our trip and when I reflect on our week, I’m filled with warmth and a sense of community. It’s funny, we had not originally planned to visit Spain (it is pretty far off our travel plan by train) but we wanted to see our friend Doug and were able to book reasonable flights via Vueling Airlines so off we went- – #YOLO. A painfully long 10 hours after leaving Interlaken (warning: you get what you pay for with Vueling), we were greeted by a warm hug and a friendly smile in beautiful Barcelona.
Barcelona has everything on offer: traditional “city” life, the mountains, and its very own beach. Our first full day was spent exploring the city and one of our first stops was La Boqueria, a huge open air market. By now, you know those are my JAM so we snacked on a few tasty treats and mentally savored the others. By foot, we saw the unique and colorful architecture of the city including some amazingly talented Gaudi work (more on that later) plus checked out the beach, Barcelonetta. At night, we got together with local Tesla friends for an unforgettable dinner (starting at 10pm, obvi) at a super-local hole in the wall Basque tapas restaurant. Our friend Marco is known for his foodie prowess, and this meal did not disappoint. Barcelona is also infamous for its nightlife and we participated by staying out ’til a record breaking (for Ted and I- -OML) 3:30am!!
After our late night out, the three of us used Saturday to recoup in Sitges, a cute beachy town 30 minutes away by train. We ate fresh seafood and “took some sun” as the Europeans say. The next day, Sunday Funday, was one for the books! After Doug, Ted and I cooked an American style breakfast, we headed to Marco and Livia’s terrace for an Italian-Spanish BBQ (which surprisingly involves way more food than an American BBQ) where we hung out all day, ate fresh, homemade food, and chatted about all sorts of stuff. Ted and I also introduced our simple, signature drink to this international audience and it was a huge hit–score! The day was so fun and inspired several things I want to “bring back” to our life in California: simple stuff like building veggie boxes and using the juicer we acquired (but have never used) to hosting friends at our place more and enjoying a slower pace on the weekends. And if Ted learns to cook like Marco, I’ll have died and gone to heaven. 🙂 Anyway, a huge thank you to Marco and Livia for a wonderful, wonderful day.
In addition to taking the intentional planning time mentioned in the previous post, the rest of our week dove deeper into Barcelona’s history. My favorite parts of the city were those touched by Gaudi- – especially La Sagrada Familia . The construction started in 1883 and is technically unfinished due to Gaudi’s death (sadly, he was killed in 1926 after being struck by a tram during his daily walk). Gaudi took inspiration heavily from nature and it’s my favorite element of his work. For example, the ceiling of La Sagrada Familia is made to be a canopy of trees in a forest and the other details add up to create the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. The interior is made out of a bright white stone, and the embedded stained glass throws intense color on every nearby surface. You’re left standing, showered in color, and it’s overwhelmingly gorgeous. Sorry for the photo dump below… I couldn’t narrow it down any further.
We also visited another of Gaudi’s creations– Park Guell. Surprisingly, Park Guell is essentially a failed high-end housing development but lucky for us, it’s now enjoyed as a beautiful public park overlooking the city. There intended to be 60 single family homes on the hillside, but only 3 were built due to lack of demand. Even though potential buyers had the money, they were turned off by the uncommon HOA fees and permitting restrictions of the development–2 standard (but still sucky) concepts nowadays.
Again, Gaudi was inspired by nature and sustainability and his architecture in Park Guell is a shining example. The construction took place over 100 years ago and there is a water recapture system, viaducts using the existing rock/mountainside, upcycled materials like glass bottles and plates, and holes built into other structures for animals to take shelter in, etc. In addition to being incredibly forward thinking, it’s a colorful and bright sanctuary that should not be missed during a trip to Barcelona. I recommend the inexpensive guided tour where they explain the non-obvious and impressive elements of Gaudi’s design.
FUN FACT ALERT: Since we were surrounded by so many Italians in our Barcelona “crew”, we learned the true meaning of Ted’s last name. Our friend Marco told us, but we confirmed the validity with a 3rd party source, a friend of Doug’s. When we asked her what “Merendino” meant, she covered her mouth, giggled, and explained that a “Merendino” is a “tiny afternoon snack”. AWESOME! We then proceeded to have a table-wide discussion and decided that in America, a quintessential merendino would be a Bagel Bite. Trying to explain the concept of a Bagel Bite to Italians was hilariously chaotic and unsuccessful. To make things more confusing, the Bagel Bite’s jingle was sung and then Livia said “I could understand putting bagels on pizza, but pizza on bagels?!”Maybe you had to be there, but it was belly-achingly funny.
To round our trip out, we enjoyed making a home cooked meal of stuffed chicken breast, garlic mashed potatoes, and a banana’s foster dessert (‘MERICA!) for Doug, who so kindly hosted us during our time in Barcelona. Thank you DougieFresh!
For those keeping score (a.k.a my mother- – hi mom!) Barcelona Live-o-Meter: 8
We’ve been in Nice, France for about a week and a half and have another few days here before moving to our final country–Italy. We’re back in less than 1 month!!
Posted from: Our AirBnB on Rue Barla in Nice, France