Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good food, good wine, good time {Spain Day 1 & 2}

South we go! It's time to recount some highlights of our trip to Spain, which is going to make me really want to go back. I felt like I'd be much more likely to live in London, but if that ever happened we'd be sure to visit Spain as often as we could! It was so different from London-- More colorful, easygoing, and cheap. A great combination, and a fun contrast between the two cities. A few friends have asked us which city we enjoyed more, and it's almost impossible for me to choose. They were both amazing, in such different ways. 

We got to Barcelona on Monday afternoon, and found our apartment without too much trouble. After unloading our bags, we ran to the market around the corner for some snacks and breakfast food. I loved having the apartment to ourselves, so we could lounge on the couch, cook some of our meals, and feel at home. Once refueled with cheese, sausage, and kick ass frozen croquettes, we ventured out into the city. We wandered blindly for a while, just soaking up the culture and architecture. We ended up at a restaurant our host had recommended, and feasted on paella and sangria. A delicious way to kick off this part of the vacation!

These jamon (fancy ham) flavored chips were waaaaay too tasty!

Our first full day involved a lot of wandering around. I had done a better job planning our time in London, and didn't have many specific things on our agenda for Barcelona. Overall, Joe and I love wandering around a new city, just soaking it up. We both felt like we might have missed a little, without enough planning, but that just means we'll have to plan better for our next trip. We both agreed on that-- Barcelona was lovely, and this won't be our last time visiting! 

April 23 was the Feast of St Jordi, a sweetheart's holiday similar to Valentine's Day.
It's only celebrated in Catalonia, and a lot of people play hookey and spend
the day with their loved ones. The tradition is that the men buy the women
a rose, and then women buy the men a book. 

There were a lot of book stands set up, and authors doing readings and book signings.
And there were about 1 bazillion people, which we did not really love. Also, Joe and I love
books and reading, and it's a bummer when all the books are in a language you can't read.
It was fun to see the crowds, but this was the kind of chaotic event that we would
have avoided in Chicago. 

We did the typical tourist trek down La Rambla, and spent some time exploring the Boqueria, a fascinating food market. Then we strolled down to the water, and relaxed in the sunshine. We could see the fortress on top of Montjuic, and decided to wander that way for the afternoon. Due to our lack of planning, we couldn't figure out where to get on the cable cars that go up the hill, but we took the bus and enjoyed seeing the beautiful parks and Olympic stadium on the ride up. 

(Note: getting an international data plan for my phone was an excellent use of $30. We used it for maps, sightseeing tips, and restaurant reviews. It was nice to have in London, and essential in Barcelona. I set my phone to have calls forwarded, to avoid any accidentally very expensive phone calls. The data plan saved our butts more than once. How did we survive without technology?!)

Former bullfighting ring... turned shopping mall!
We didn't go in, but it looks really nice.
By the time we got back down from Montjuic it was getting to be tapas time. YES!! Eating was a highlight of each day in Spain. We took the train to the Gracia neighborhood, and enjoyed beers and tapas in Plaza del Sol.  Then we wandered back down to the Eixample neighborhood, and ended up at Piscolabis Diagonal for some tapas. It was potentially a bit touristy, but the food and drinks tasted great, which was all I really cared about. We feasted for a bit, and then headed back to the apartment for a (by Spanish standards) early bedtime. The next day was our bike tour of cava houses in the Penedes wine region, so we wanted to be well rested before our early wake up call. 

(I have a pattern going here. I keep intending to have more than one day in a post... but i just have too much to share. Therefore, expect at least two more Spanish-themed posts!)


  1. international data plan is a must - SO HELPFUL. i fell head over heels for spain when i visited a few summers ago (madrid, granada and barcelona) - i'm looking forward to more posts :)

  2. So fun! When we go back to Europe, I know we'll do the apartment thing again because it definitely adds a different, fun element to travel. The food you had is making me drool!