And Then There is Barcelona....
As hard is it was to leave Nice, France the excitement to see part of Spain was hard to deny.
After a long flight I arrived at the Barcelona aeroport, gathered our luggage, took a deep breathe then headed for the train which would take Robert and I to our next Airbnb home away from home.
Side note: It has been more than interesting trying to find my way in countries where the customs are not only different but the languages as well. This adventure is certainly teaching me how to take the challenges as they come and not stress over the things I can't contro
Thankfully so far everywhere we go people are more than happy to help however they can.
We arrive at our destination station Clot-Arago and try to find out way out of the underground station. Once above ground and checking GPS and head to our Airbnb.
Anna & Pedro are our hosts. They are teachers. They are parents. They are charming.
They welcomed us with open arms and helped carry the luggage up nine floors to their apartment was a test of endurance. (they had contacted me prior to arriving that the elevator would be under repair). Amazingly by the end of the stay it was no big deal.'
Here is the link to their Airbnb.
Cozy single/tween room Private bath.+breakfast'
Believe me, it is a great value for Barcelona.
If you decide to stay with Anna and Pedro please let them know you heard about them from us.
They are in a perfect location for getting around all the central locations of the city. And, the views from their rooftop deck is out of this world.
You can actually see the Familia Sagrada from the main deck and it is a short 10 minute walk to see it up close and personal.
Familia Sagrada has a fascinating history and the hope is for it to be finished in 10 years.
Learn more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia
It is difficult to grasp the magnitude of this building through photos. It is unbelievable!!
The room I stayed in was shared with Robert, husband and traveling companion. It was perfect for us. If you are traveling as friends the two twin beds would be easy to accommodate you. Having the desk to work from, as well as the private bath with shower made it efficient and well planned for guest needs. Evenings, before tucking in for the night were spent on the private deck (through the French doors in the picture below). Very comfy beds for perfect sleeping. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/17556850
There are so many places to shop and eat around this Airbnb that you will have no problem finding what you need. Everything from groceries, to pharmacy, bike shops and cafe's. It is close to bus routes and the metro stations and a pretty easy walk to the main center of town.
And, if you are into shopping, the Rambla de Catalunya is by far the place to wander. This café lined pedestrian area in the middle of the street is a popular boulevard where you can combine shopping and a meal. It runs parallel with Passeig de Gracia and the streets connecting the two also have many shops and art galleries.
Another popular shopping street is Passeig de Gracia. Here you can pick up your choice of designer goods from the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Rolex along with other less expensive options. I didn't venture into any of the designer shops but did do some window shopping. If you can tell, I was looking at many shoe stores for shoes in my budget. Most stores did not have my size in what I wanted to try on so I found no shoes in Barcelona. They have many brands of shoes. Many are made in Spain, Italy or France. These are the shoes I wanted to try to find in my size. They also have many brands that I could find in the US like Nike, Converse, and the other sneaker brands which I was not interested in looking at since I could find them at home easily. My favorite 'fun' shoe store was the one with the sneakers and handbags. They are from a company called DOGO and can be found on FB at dogobarcelona. I loved the whimsical designs, especially the yellow submarine shoes & handbag. I may have to send away for the handbag when I return to Arizona.
The Barcelona Experience:
On this adventure through Europe my goal is to partake in a least 1 Special Experience in each of the cities I visit. For the experience in Barcelona I chose to learn how to make Paella through an offer from Viator.com.
For the $40 price, it was a bargain! https://www.viator.com/tours/Barcelona/Interactive-Spanish-Cooking-Experience-in-Barcelona/d562-16637P1
I met Chef Fernando and his assistant Jorge Fernandez at a central location that’s just off of Las Ramblas in the old part of Barcelona for a glass of Sangria. **Jorge is a young man in his late twenties ? that escaped from Cuba and came to Spain...this is another story altogether and we had a long conversation about this subject. After hanging out and meeting some of the local people that come to the bar, we gathered the group of 'touristas' and headed out for the walk to St. Josep La Boqueria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Boqueria) Barcelona’s most famous markets and the largest I have seen so far on my trip.
Once at the market Fernando talked about the basics of Spanish cuisine as we walked to his favorite vendor stalls, collecting fresh seafood from the sea as well as the other ingredients needed to create a seafood Paella.
Once all the ingredients had been purchased we headed back to the cooking school in the El Born district. There in a narrow & undistinguished alleyway we came to the private cooking facility created for this experience. If you were just passing by, you would never know it was inhabited. Here we found an open kitchen, bar, and restaurant-style seating. Our first glass of sangria for the evening was poured and a variety of tapas, or pintxos, classic Spanish small plates were delivered to the tables.
With chef advising, the group started preparing the ingredients for the traditional paella; cleaning the seafood chopping the vegetables for the dish.
They are then systematically sautéed in olive oil over a huge burner until tender, then broth is added to the mix.
Everything is stirred together and then rice is added to simmer for about 40 minutes. While the paella is cooking the group was shown the proper way to make Portugese Sangria. Once the paella had finished cooking everyone headed to the kitchen to pile on the goods and head back to our table to share our thoughts of the experience.
It was very interesting to meet the different people that came to this experience. At our table were two mothers and their teenage daughters that were visiting from Israel. Robert was in great form this evening and had wonderful conversations with them. He was a big hit! We also met 2 couples that were only in Barcelona for the day before heading out on a Mediterranean cruise that left from the Port. Amazingly, they were also from Arizona and live near our city of Tempe. A very small world, yes?
One of the best things about doing 'Experiences' is the opportunity to meet other travelers from around the world, share stories and make new friends. I find this to be the best way to see a city as if you lived there. I highly recommend trying out at least one in every city that you travel in if only to make connections and new friends from around the world.
Read more about Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona - Barcelona at: https://www.viator.com/tours/Barcelona/Interactive-Spanish-Cooking-Experience-in-Barcelona/d562-16637P1?pub=vcps
St. Jorge Day in Barcelona
It was exciting to be in Barcelona on a special day that is celebrated throughout the city. It is called St. Jorge Day. "In Catalonia, Balearic and parts of Valencia, it is customary on 23 April for men give away roses to women, like the knight who addressed the princess. The women give the men a book, remembering the death and burial respectively of two great European literary personalities, Miguel de Cervantes and Shakespeare, and the Spanish notable literary personality, Inca Garcilaso."
You can read further about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_George%27s_Day_(Spain)
The streets are filled with flowers...tables simply set with long stem roses anywhere they could find a 'good' spot to sell. Tables of books were everywhere as well. I could not believe the crowds surrounding all the tables and they were in every part of the city!.
These photos are of the flower stands everywhere, a cake for the celebration, the dragon and a special rose that the Airbnb hosts Anna & Pedro gave to me. I felt special.
Our last night in Barcelona was spent getting to know our Airbnb hosts. We walked to a nearby restaurant to enjoy an evening of good food and conversation. We talked about many things but mostly about how much we enjoyed their city. We look forward to returning to Barcelona and to visit again our new friends.
A few random pictures in and around Barcelona
We used our iPhones for photos and for finding our way around. I brought my quick charger but Robert wanted one as wel
So....we found the Apple store! Can I say it is the largest store of their kind I have ever seen!!!! It had three levels.
Thankfully, he found just the right item. The check-out guys were eager to be in the picture as well. You guys were great!
This is a beautiful tile piece.
The architecture can only be appreciated when seen in person. Amazing what could be built so many years ago. Amazing that it is still standing today.R
It was fun to see what the statues would do when we dropped a coin into their container. Can you guess who this man was impersonating? He handed Robert a telescope to view the sky.
We took the Hop on Hop off bus to see as much as we could of the city on our first day. The pictures below us are of the Olympic stadium and the Olympic torch from when it was held here in the summer of 1992.
Game of Thrones chair...
We went to a local 'flea market'....there were so many books just laying on the ground. I found pages of handwritten words in the French language that I thought so interesting. More for the penmanship than for the words. And my favorite piece was this ceramic cat. I'm not sure why I liked it so much but maybe because it reminded me of being a child.
My hope is that you get some enjoyment out of the postings of my adventures in Europe as I explore the cities and share the experiences and place I stay.