The day finally arrived. I’m not sure whether it snuck up on me or took forever to get here. Probably a little of both. Cindy and I have been looking forward to this trip to Spain for a very long time. Our first time in Spain and our second time riding a Backroads trip. This time we convinced eight other friends to join us for the ride. While fun to experience Spain with our friends, I think we are a bit nervous on what we signed them up for.
Cindy, me, the Smiths and the Shias flew over the pond on Thursday night. As is normal, I slept pretty well getting 4 hours of sleep, albeit in a upright position in cattle-class. Cindy slept for maybe 30 minutes, also her norm. The fun part of the plane ride for me is the movie watching. I loved “Lion” a movie with Dev Patel. Incredible story (based on a true story) and soundtrack/music. My second movie “Fences,” not so much. The play didn’t translate to the big screen very well and the subject matter was tough.
Upon arriving, and after watching what looked like a 14 yo fail at pulling up the stairs to the plane, we made it through Customs relatively quickly learning that the Spanish aren’t big on queue management and found all luggage intact. From there we squeezed it all into a taxi made to fit four comfortably, six, also not so much, and took the quick 24 Euro ride into the city. Side note, the taxi drivers held a one day strike the day before our arrival, forcing the Seiberts to commute via Metro. The Metro drivers were on strike when we arrived. Spain apparently likes a good one day labor dispute.
Once in town we joined up with The Seiberts on the H10 Cubiks rooftop for a beverage or two and then agreed to power on in the city to explore the old Gothic District and find lunch food. At some point Cindy tapped out for a 90 minute nap and then we cleaned up for a 15 minute walk back through the Gothic District and ate a terrific meal at Viana (Valli found it – yea Tripadvisor). We ate every starter on the menu, drank a few bottles of wine and Sangria and spent roughly 20 Euros per person. Much cheaper than Italy. Then back to the hotel rooftop where we lasted 15-20 minutes before tapping out for the day, 30 hours since Cindy’s last sleep. We slept the sleep of royalty. So good.
Day 2 was filled with more exploring. Cindy and me went for a run to the marina and beach, then followed it with our typical struggle to find a suitable breakfast spot on our first day in Europe only to eat at a place with menu pictures and an all English menu, then a slight rush back to the hotel to shower and rush back to our 11am Free Walking Tour of the Gothic District. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical of the free walking tour. It over-delivered. We had a super guide who moved to Spain 14 years ago from Austrailia and he spent 2.5 hours with us giving us agree at historical tour of the area. The deal with the walking tour is you pay him what you value the trip at. He was very fun, funny and showed us stuff dating back to the first century. He also went deep on the Catalan Christmas rituals. I won’t go deep here but it involves a log with a face on it, pooping and hitting the log to get presents from it. Www.caganer.com might help or Google Catalan Christmas Traditions. He also covered a ton of ground and helped us see a side to the area we were staying in that would have been difficult to get on our own between great food and great beverages. After the tour we ate at a restaurant he recommended where they served all food on toothpicks. It was like eating at a wedding except at the end someone charges you 2,10 Euros per toothpick and drink. A fun concept but not our best meal in quality or volume.
After lunch we pushed on to the Sagrada Familia, the crazy ornate church that Gaudi designed and started to build over 100 years ago that is still being built today. Ornate is an understatement. We now realize where the term ‘gaudy’ may have come from. Words do not do it justice so I won’t try. Here’s a picture instead.
After the fruit decorated church stop, half went to siesta while the other half of us continued on the Guadi tour to Parc Guell. Worth it alone for the view over Barcelona, this park was filled with more things Gaudi. His home, minimalistic, his sculptures/buildings, not so much. After much sweat, a quick cab ride back to the hotel, more gummy candies and Runts in the lobby, we made our way back to the rooftop for a drink by the pool. Valli did it again for dinner. This time at Agust restaurant on “the other side of the tracks,” per Jeff’s description, where we ate way too much excellent food. We again opened the restaurant at 7pm, locals poured in around 8:30. It was fun to see Jeff tense up walking through a diverse neighborhood. Really fun. Not so much fun was learning that the final couple to arrive, the Goads, would be arriving late and apparently without luggage. Bum deal considering they were flying direct from Paris. More rooftop bar after dinner and then bed on the eve of the Backroads trip.
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