|Wall fountain in the Bari Gotic|
Philadelphia - New York - Barcelona
This was the least prepared I've ever been for a vacation. I bought a guidebook only a few days before, leafed through it, decided to read it on the plane.
The flights went well. Philly to NY left a few minutes late; we got into JFK with just enough time to trot to our gate. We were the last two people to board.
|Graffiti behind bars|
A change of route and strong tail winds got us into Barcelona almost an hour early. We had time for coffee at the airport, then found the Aerobus and got off 30 minutes later at Placa Catalunya -- where apparently every city bus, tour bus, regional and metro train lets off. It was busy, even early in the morning, and as we soon found out, Barcelona doesn't really "do" mornings very well.
We made our way down La Rambla, a wide pedestrian avenue with outdoor restaurants, souvenir and flower vendors on both sides. Made a note to come back and look at the bulbs and seeds before we went home; I always like to return with something for the garden.
This was our first time staying in an apartment, which we located through Airbnb. The host met us in front of the building and led us up three twisty flights of stairs. He didn't have much English, but between Mario's high school Spanish and a lot of good will all around, we managed to sort things out okay.
After a brief nap, we went in search of lunch. We were staying in the Bari Gotic (the Gothic Quarter), the oldest section of the city, and there are tons of winding, alley-like streets, all seemingly crammed with interesting places to eat and drink. We found an interesting paella place but lost it and finally ended at a tapas restaurant. Afterward, we easily found the paella restaurant.
Post lunch and much refreshed, we wandered around our neighborhood, saw the Cathedral (from the outside; it was too nice to go indoors so soon), found our way back to La Rambla and walked down to the port. On the way down, we saw a couple of living statues -- the copper cowboy was my favorite -- and ran into a small antique/flea market near the Columbus monument. We walked the area, admiring all the boats and the gorgeous blue sky (stunning after this endless gray winter) and determined how to get over to the beach. Decided to save it for later, but at least the geography was straight in our heads.
|It really is that blue!|
I took photos of my favorites, some of which will appear here.
|Living statue on La Rambla|
It's a wonderful thing having a stove and a fridge when there are markets like this around. It's one thing I've always missed when we've gone to Paris, and the food market in Florence was absolute torture without a kitchen.
Now armed with cheese, ham and a kilo of heavenly strawberries, we headed back to base. On the way, we picked up a couple of bottles of local wine, just so that it really felt like home. (Our thoughtful host had included a corkscrew with the kitchen equipment).
Another short nap, and we were ready for another meal. We ventured out at 8, realizing it was a bit early for locals to be eating, but our stomachs weren't yet on Barcelona time. The lovely arcaded Placa Reial was only a few blocks away, so we walked there and toured the selection at all the outdoor restaurants before choosnig another tapas menu.
|Restaurants - Placa Reial|
It wasn't a bad way to feel.