A Travellerspoint blog

Back to life...

Back to reality...


View Madrid & Barca - 2019 on JackiesJourneys's travel map.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Coming to you from the queue for the Iberia desk at Madrid airport. Good thing we took the 8:15 shuttle as we may be in this line a while. As Cindy said, it’s like Walmart with all the lanes and only one open. I don’t quite understand as every other time they have nailed this check in process. Guess that’s all for now.

Mystery solved: they had all the other desks working on last minute check ins for a different flight. Once that ended, we were through in no time. Security was a breeze. Then we found out we need to do a train out to the satellite terminal...22 minutes from security. That is approaching, so here we go. How do you like this play by play?! Ha ha! My attempt to be proactive ;)

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We arrived at terminal 4S with plenty of time to scope out the food situation. Lots of options, but most of them containing jamon. Sorry, but I just can’t even. Finally I located a beautiful looking chicken and roasted red pepper baguette, and it was delicious!! Finally I have broken my streak of the last thing eaten in a country being practically the worst thing. First last night’s dinner and now breakfast!!! Woo hoo...insert dancing.

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And now I’m sitting on a very uncomfortable bar at gate S47/48 just waiting to board in no time at all. It’s still hard to believe that this trip has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I am definitely glad to have had the opportunity to go, the means by which to pull it off, and someone to join in the adventure. Hasta que nos vemos otra vez España, gracias por todo!! (Until we meet again Spain, thanks for everything!!)

But speaking of adventures, once I land back in the States, mine aren’t over. I land in Green Bay at 5:40 Friday night...get to sleep in my own bed...then drive to Milwaukee Saturday with a different suitcase...and head...sorry, but I can’t disclose that information. Three years post graduation from MSOE, my nephew is finally getting his gradbirthuation trip. Once he knows what we’re doing, then I can let the rest of you in on it. Stay tuned!!! And wish me and my exhaustion good luck.

Flight update: instead of the overcrowded plane with yucky food that brought us to Madrid, we are now rewarded with an under booked flight with yummy food on the way home. Cindy took off to grab her own chunk of seats and I’ve got my double window seat that I am loving. I just had a fabulous plate of albondigas (meatballs) and now I hope to finish typing before perhaps grabbing a little nap. I’ve only got about 8 hours to kill before O’Hare.

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An hour and a half till landing and this has been one of the best international flights ever. Only the briefest of outbursts from a child and with my own row, I can move about the cabin as I like. I got all my typing done and had time to take in a movie. No naps for me, but that’s no real surprise. But seriously, how am I hungry yet again?!? I think I must have a tape worm :)

Sitting at the gate in O’Hare waiting for our delayed flight to board. Our Madrid flight thankfully arrived early, giving us extra time to jump through the customs and security hoops. And then the delays started. Just 15 minutes here and there, plus there have been 2 fire trucks sitting on the tarmac for a while. Makes you a bit uneasy to think what’s going on?! Well they were setting up for a water salute, thus the reason for the delay. That was pretty interesting to see, although I wish I knew specifically what it was for (google says it could be any of a number of reasons). Anyhoo, our gate is now clear for our plane to drive up to, so it shouldn’t be long now.

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And now they are moving us to a completely different concourse. And I think it may be just about the furthest away they could get. Oh O’Hare, how you love to torture us travelers.

One hour later (make that an hour and a half) than scheduled, but we are now onboard with departure imminent. Let’s just get this over with already shall we?! My toothbrush, shower and bed are calling my name.

LANDED!!! 7:00pm Green Bay time and 2:00am Madrid time ????????

And naturally by the time I made it home I was hungry and a little more awake. Finally got to bed a little after 10:00 (stupid delays!!!). Not the bestest 9ish hours of sleep with waking up at 1:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30, but hopefully it’s enough to get me through!!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

And lest you think my life is all perfect trips and fun adventures, I had a not so welcome home. I am currently sitting at the Tires Plus across the street from my apartment needing a shiny new battery and a tire patch. All I was trying to do was get my laundry done and repack. Not so fast...

My car wouldn’t start when I went to go to the laundromat. I immediately hoofed it to Tires Plus in a panic, as I need to be in Milwaukee today. Nice guy #1 walked over with me and a battery starter. Got it going, so #1 left and I was gonna drive over for a new battery. The low tire pressure symbol was on, but not a surprise since it’s been sitting a while. I pulled out to drive over and heard bad noises. So I got out and the passenger front tire is flat flat. Ugh!!! Luckily nice neighbor guy #2 is at his garage (not knowing about my battery incident) and offered to go get an air pump from Tires Plus. While #2 is gone, another nice guy #3 pulls in to pick something up from someone else and he jumps out with an air pump in his hand. #3 starts airing it up, when #2 & #1 arrive and finish the job. It’s a tire that was previously plugged and patched, so hopefully they can just fix that and I don’t need a new tire. Definitely not my idea of a welcome home/safe travels sendoff.

They can't fix the patch, so a new tire it is too. Way too many dollars later, I will hopefully be ready to safely roll on out of here.

But on the major plus side, this all happened at the security of my garage, not on the side of a road or highway somewhere. Is this the kind of daily adventures you were looking for Linda?! Let’s hope these are my only ones!!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

One final recap to put this adventure to rest. I thought it only fitting to post it on the eve of my next adventure: as I will start my new job bright and early tomorrow morning. That’s more than a tad nerve racking and exciting; making me even more thankful that I had all these other adventures to keep my mind occupied and away from all the worry and wonder leading up to it.

So yes, last Saturday I did finally make it down to Milwaukee with my new battery and tire. I did dinner with my sister and brother-in-law before heading to bed early. The next morning we were up at 4:30, headed to pick up my nephew and dash off for our flight to Vegas!! Talk about completely confusing and already wonky system by traveling through a few more time zones. Thankfully it may have actually helped me get over the jet lag faster (or maybe my body is just good with sleep deprivation). In any case, we kept our Vegas secret from Nathan right up until the airport shuttle driver blew it (gaaaa). But I suppose, we couldn’t have gotten him through security without knowing his destination, so it was ok (just a little anticlimactic that he found out by overhearing “good luck...I hope you win if you gamble.”).

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Anyhoo, the trip itself was loads of fun with lots more miles walked on my already tired feet and bunches more tasty food consumed. Aside from the weather being unseasonably cool and just not having enough time to do everything we wanted, it was a grand time had by all. The trip to Hoover Dam, the ride in the High Roller Ferris wheel, and the Bellagio fountains and conservatory were definitely some of the highlights. And it’s safe to say that if I never return to Vegas, I’m totally ok with that.

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After flight delays coming home from there as well, we landed back in MKE and I opted to use my time zone rattled brain to my advantage. That meant telling myself 9:45pm Wednesday was actually only 7:45pm so I had plenty of time to drive home. It worked and I was back to my own little apartment with four free days to recoup and get ready to dive back into the real world tomorrow. I hope this mushy, unused brain is up to the challenge and I don’t make too much of a fool out of myself. Time to start saving for my next adventures ;)
Have passport, will travel...

Posted by JackiesJourneys 17:35 Archived in USA Tagged travel airport adventure spain journeys o’hare welcome_home Comments (1)

El último día...

Wrapping up our stay in Barcelona.


View Madrid & Barca - 2019 on JackiesJourneys's travel map.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Here we are, already at our last day in Barcelona...and basically the final day of the trip. Tomorrow, our flight rockets out of Madrid at 11:30am, which doesn’t really give us time for anything. But luckily today’s flight from Barcelona to Madrid wasn’t scheduled to take off until 5pm. That means a few more hours of touring madness.

Back to that crazy Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, he didn’t just design buildings. Oh no...he tackled an entire park and made it oh so spectacular. I was super excited for my first trip to Park Guell, and it more than lived up to all the hype.

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The outskirts of the park are free and open to everyone. But in order to preserve Gaudi’s work and generate money for renovations, the central Monument Zone is a timed ticket that is best bought in advance. Only a max of 400 ticket holders are allowed entry in any half hour period. Once you’re in, you’re in and can stay as long as you like. But miss your half hour entry window and too bad for you.

Knowing it’s a bit of a hike (figuratively and literally) to get out there, we opted for a 9:30 entry time. Our friendly little Raquel steered us away from taking the park suggested route, and we did our own metro/hill climb combo. Luckily Cindy did some googling and found the route with a good amount of escalators on it. But it was still a climb. And all the while thinking we can’t get lost...we gotta get there in time!!!

Where we entered was more on the back side of the park. We ended up climbing even more to scope out the three crosses. Then with no map and minimal signs, we had to gauge how long we needed to find one of the entry points. No need to worry though as we got to that area with more than enough time to spare.

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Before you even enter, you can look up and start seeing the terrace with the dragon benches surrounding it, as well as the little gingerbread looking buildings. Gaudí, Mr. Nature himself, knowing that nothing in nature is straight basically never used a straight line for anything. And he never liked to solve a problem the same way twice. Infuriating for his workers, but pure genius for us to admire.

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Anyhoo, 9:30 we sauntered up to the gate and got right in. We hit the timing great as by the time we left, lines were forming of people with upcoming entry times. The terrace is pretty big and didn’t feel too crowded. The gardens below weren’t too bad either. But we soon discovered where so many of the people were: in the 45 minute wait line to enter the gingerbread house (which we decided not to do), or else on the staircase with the tile lizard guy (who we luckily were able to get some photos of anyway).

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I always like to buy little watercolor or pictures from places. Back in 2011, I bought three 4x6 mass produced paintings from Madrid and have them framed up really nice. Well wouldn’t ya know they have the exact same type of pics here in Barcelona. So I had bought three to do the same thing. I actually bought them yesterday, before having seen everything. But to get the best combination, I bought one with Park Guell and the lizard in it. Risky...but it paid off as I absolutely loved it here!!! All the colors and tiles are some of the things I love most about Spain. I am definitely a park girl at heart and can’t get enough of a good patch of flowers, trees, and good sky. And this place had all of those things and then some!! There was quite a bit of construction going on as well. So I can’t wait to come back someday and see how it’s all been improved even more.

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After about 2-hours, we had covered as much as we were going to. Thankfully I had a thought: that included shuttle was right outside the door and would take us directly to a metro stop, no walking required!! The added bonus occurred when we got off the bus and right in front of us was a place with stuffed churros. Yay...I get to try the dulce de leche and ya can’t go wrong with another Nutella one. It was different anyway as these had a sugar coating.

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From there we hopped the metro back toward Plaça Catalunya so we could eat, shop, and be close to the hotel. I found a Barcelona Christmas ornament to match the Madrid one I had bought. Then it was juice time at the Mercado. Not wanting to waste time searching for food, we grabbed spicy chicken empanadas there as well. Ugh! Disappointing, and I am sensing that my streak of worst meals coming right at the end of my trips is about to continue (insert sad face). I’ll just grab another juice to try and make me forget. Even worse was on the walk back, we passed this great looking cafe with giant salads...just what I’ve been wanting for days now. That would’ve been perfect! Oh well, I’ll survive...and there’s still a bit more time to find something else tasty.

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We decided with time to spare and such nice weather, why not just sit in the square a little while. That’s when I looked up and realized there was one final thing for me to do: go into Corte Ingles, the giant Spanish department store. I can’t believe I didn’t go into the Madrid one at all, so Barcelona’s will suffice. Good choice as I found this little notebook with a design on it that I just love. I’d seen the design before, but only on coffee mugs. I was hoping for a magnet, but notebook works too. The thought is to recreate it myself for other cities I’ve been to.

Instead of taking the metro as we’d planned, Cindy suggested a leisurely walk back to enjoy one final look around. Great idea as there was plenty of time. Raquel greeted us warmly from behind her desk, we chatted a bit, and said our goodbyes as her next guests were arriving. And who knows...I may take you up on that idea to email when I return and get the bigger room for sure next time ;)

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No problems catching the Aerobus. We even timed it perfectly as it rolled up just minutes after we arrived to the bus stop. The hang ups were at the airport when there was some disruption or issue which delayed our flight. It was so weird though that they were providing zero info in the airport, but kept posting updates online.

Anyhoo, the wait gave Cindy time to do a bit of souvenir replacement shopping. She must’ve set her bag down when we were at the hotel getting our luggage. Cause when we were going through security she realized she didn’t have them. Total bummer! We also had time to grab something to eat. They had this nifty little area where people were cooking up all sorts of different things. All jamon, bread and cheesed out, I opted for a fresh veggie stir fry. It could’ve used some more seasoning, but was pretty good.

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Our plane finally arrived!! Following a quick turn around, an hour after our scheduled departure, we were on our way. Good thing we were staying out by the airport. But really, could you guys just hold my luggage for the next 12 hours and then just toss it on the right plane in the morning?!

That not being possible, the hotel shuttle was the next best thing. Not being able to call them, Cindy found a chat option to get that ordered. But I think we actually landed up finding one of their regularly scheduled runs and hopped on board. Fifteen or twenty minutes of very twisty roads later and we were at NH Madrid Barajas hotel. It looked to be a pretty nice place. We ordered up the return shuttle for in the morning and the lady said we’d have plenty of time doing the 9am one. I was leery, but went with it. We got to the room, lounged a bit and then realized yet again it was after 9pm and we hadn’t eaten yet. We also discussed that shuttle time and decided it seemed to be cutting it too close. We’d rather spend extra time in the airport just to be safe.

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So off we went to talk to the front desk and locate some food. Another shuttle must’ve just pulled up as the lobby was packed. Food first it is! The hotel restaurant looked a little pricey, so we decided to wander the block and see if we could find anything else. After aborting the initial place we sat down at, we ended up at this cute little local looking place with an outdoor seating area. When it’s 70-some degrees and still not dark at 9:30 at night, one simply must dine al fresco.

Dos tintos de verano to start things off. And I gotta say, this was the best one I’ve had outside the south of Spain!! Plus we finally got a tapa...as in a free bite just for ordering a drink!! Better late than never ;) We decided to just get a couple things to share. Might as well have one final round of croquetas while on Spanish soil. Then Cindy spotted this photo of a combo plate with sausage, fries and dipping sauces. I ended up ordering the wrong thing, and we got the meat version instead of the sausage...but it was still delicious all the same. The little waiter guy was hauling butt from inside to outside and doing who knows what else. By the time we finally could get his attention and our bill, it was after 11. Oh my...and so it continues.

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The good thing was the lobby was now empty and we could get to the front desk. We got our shuttle time changed to the earlier 8:15 departure, and headed up to room 124 to grab a few hours of sleep. And well by the time I showered and posted and scrolled, that’s about all I got. Might be a good thing we are leaving tomorrow as I am one exhausted chica!!

Posted by JackiesJourneys 13:26 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona gaudi park_guell Comments (0)

From Montjuic To Barceloneta

A gold medal winning day.


View Madrid & Barca - 2019 on JackiesJourneys's travel map.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I am currently standing in Montjuic, in the square right next to the Olympic Stadium. It’s just after 3:00 and we have been up and down and all around this area since about 11:00 this morning. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, and I’m gonna bet it’s way warmer than the 69 degrees that was predicted. So how’d we get here you might be wondering?!

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We opted to sleep in until 8:30 today. By that point we could partake in the free “breakfast” (basically a few pastries and fruit and cereal, but hey, that was our consolation prize for our room reservation being messed up). We had a few questions for Raquel at the front desk, so by the time we got out the door, it was around 10:00.

She had mentioned a neighborhood market that was recently renovated, so we headed there. It was actually on the way to the funicular anyway so it worked out perfect. This market, Sant Antoni, was definitely for the locals doing their daily shopping. It also had a bunch of clothing stalls and surprisingly quite a few sewing places. Who would’ve guessed they’d need so much fabric and supplies?! The stylish Spaniards really don’t strike me as whipping up their own sewing projects, but I could be wrong. Anyhoo since we aren’t in need of any thread or eggs or chickens with the heads still on, I guess we’ll just move right along.

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(Park standing has finished...time to go round up Cindy and get this train moving along already...)

Just me again, from the room at 12:40am. I’m trying to stay on top of these posts, but it just isn’t happening. We have become quite Spanish in the sense of not eating dinner until 9pm and then not making it back to the room until 11:00ish. And tonight add onto that a bottle of cava for two with dinner, and I think you can figure out why my posts are sporadic. Speaking of, gotta sleep. We have a date with a park bright and early tomorrow, so sleep wins out.

Now where did I leave off?! Oh yes, just after the market bright and early this morning. From the market we headed to catch the funicular which would take us part way up Montjuic (a scenic wooded hill in the South West of Barcelona; the name is Catalan for “Jewish Mountain”). Once disembarking, we headed left toward some miradores (lookout points) and signs for the 1992 Olympic Park area. We weren’t really sure where we were headed when we opted to climb a couple different sets of steps along the way.

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Eventually we landed up by the castle, which Raquel had gone so far as to put an X through on my map when she said don’t bother. Point taken. But we did follow the path around it to where there were sweeping views out over the city and out to sea. Wow...just wow!!! With the water so perfectly blue and calm, some of the cargo ships looked like they were actually floating in the sky.

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Many many photos later, we moved along trying to figure out our plan of attack. We knew there were two cable cars around: one older, longer one that took you down to the beach area and the newer, shorter one that goes back down by the funicular stop where we’d come from. Since we could only find the newer one, that’s what we chose. And just as we get in and are debating where to situate ourselves for the best views, these three loud Russian girls jumped in our cable car too. Grrr!! Seriously, the next one is 10 feet behind us, you couldn’t have waited 5 seconds for that one?! What a way to ruin a pleasant journey. Thankfully there was this little switchback half way down and they got out there. But we were already too low by that point to see all the things.

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After the cable car ride, we decided to take a bit more time to look around before deciding to walk or ride or what the rest of the way down. In the midst of that wandering was when we found ourselves right in front of Estadi Olímpic de Montjuic back up where I started this post. Whew, feels like days ago...wait, that’s cause it was days ago (ha ha).

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I am an absolute Olympics junkie and will one day be at a Games live and in person. But today my feet are sore, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I really need to pee...so sadly my excitement is waning. Not to mention it’s 3pm and we still have more things we were supposed to get to today. Thus my rounding Cindy up to get moving.

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Now realizing where we are, I’ve formulated a plan: let’s just walk down the hill the rest of the way into Plaza de España, then walk up the street to the hotel cause I know where that bathroom is. Pretty solid and fairly quick plan...but plans just never quite come together that easily.

We got as far as the tip top of the stairs right in front of the national museum, happily snapping photos. As we started to descend, all of a sudden we looked at each other like “are you hearing water?!” Little did we know that at 4pm they would be turning on the water and you can literally stand there and watch it slowly flow down the mountain, filling each fountain along the way. Soooo cool!! Neither of us thought to video it until after the fact (oops), but the photos and memories are pretty great anyway. There’s actually more fountains (the Magic ones) that do some kind of choreographed show...but only Thursday to Sunday. So close!! I’ll plan better next visit ;)

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We did finally make our way to the hotel and took a bit of a break there (Snacks!! Get me some snacks!!). But the sea was calling and with only so many hours of daylight left, we had to get moving. Back to the metro and out toward Barceloneta we headed. We sauntered along the boardwalk, trying to avoid all the people hocking their kitschy crap from blankets or hanging off umbrellas. Seriously...do people really buy that stuff?!

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We finally hit the beach portion and did a little strolling with sand between our toes. The poopy part was in order to get to the water, you had to walk over some painful stones to get there. I did endure it in order to get my feet, in all their striped suntan glory, in the chilly water for at least a brief, passing moment.

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But hunger finally won out and I had to find some food. We had barely eaten anything in the 10 plus hours since that little free breakfast back at the hotel. Why oh why am I starving myself in Europe of all places?!? Ugh!!! Maybe that’s why I liked Africa so much: they made sure we ate at regular intervals and it never had to turn into a starvation march food finding mission :P

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We didn’t find dinner, but we did find thee most glorious of appetizers. It was like a mirage right there near the sea: a stand practically overflowing with potatoes just waiting to be fried and slathered in the most delicious of sauces. I went with the Spanish standard alioli (garlic sauce) and Cindy gave two (or was it three) cheeses a try. Sitting on a bench, staring at palm trees, soaking up the slowly setting sun was the perfect way to enjoy those beauties.

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More walking along the seaside, admiring all the boats and yachts, followed. We finally made it to the Colon statue, the monument to Christopher Columbus which marks the beginning or end of Las Ramblas. We decided to veer off, in search of non-touristy places to grab dinner. We ended up a tad on the lost side, even wandering by a tent city area of homeless people. That’s when I was thinking we really just need to figure out where we are. About two streets further on and we had our answer: back near Sant Antoni market where we began the day just about 12 hours ago...completely overshooting our hotel and the Gothic Area cafes.

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We finally spotted a little place with outdoor seating and salads just minutes from our hotel. Although after splitting a bottle of cava and only eating small salads, by 10pm, we walked right by the hotel and didn’t even realize it for a few blocks. I’m convinced the sign got hidden somehow, but that seems unlikely. Good thing my feet aren’t tired or sore or blistered or anything, she says dripping with sarcasm at the end of another exhausting day.

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Posted by JackiesJourneys 19:33 Archived in Spain Tagged sea barcelona spain mar montjuic fries olympic_stadium barceloneta cava Comments (0)

Pure madness or pure genius?!

Gaudi’s Barcelona


View Madrid & Barca - 2019 on JackiesJourneys's travel map.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

We left the room 14+ hours ago and are just now getting back after 10pm.

Once we returned, Cindy spotted an airfare deal from Chicago to Barcelona. Is it too early to book your next trip while still on your current one?! I didn’t, but man I’d love to come back to Barcelona (and not wait 24 years before that next return). I was actually pondering my need to return while wandering the streets today, completely enchanted with everything. I may leave here with a permanent krink in my neck from always having something catching my eye, causing my head to fly back or swivel up to get a better look. Even our one guide said after 10 or more years of living here, she still find herself discovering little things she’s probably walked by hundreds of times before. But I suppose, let’s dive into those 14+ hours worth of fun and excitement.

The one definite for this trip was getting a tour of Sagrada Família. That was all researched and booked before we ever left home. I was keeping my expectations low as you never know with those tours what you’ll get. I wanted a small group, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen (but it did this time!!). I am so unbelievably happy to say that the tour ended up far exceeding expectations. The building itself is awe inspiring and our guide, Georgina, did an amazing job of explaining what we were seeing and really bringing it all together. She had facts, figures and stories, all of which were delivered brilliantly.

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So the tour was scheduled with a 9:30 start time where we needed to arrive and check in at least 15 minutes early. Not knowing exactly where to go, we left early and ate our bocadillos on the street on the way there. As you come up out of the metro it’s like BAM...there’s Sagrada Família just across the street. It’s just this mammoth unfinished building rising straight out of the middle of a few city blocks. Still covered in cranes and netting and construction wires in some spots, but so grand that you don’t even really notice all that stuff. The talk is that it will be finished by 2026 for the centenary of Gaudi’s death, but given the pace and how much is left to complete, it’s gonna be tough. Not to mention the neighbor situation whereby at least one, possibly two city blocks worth of buildings (businesses, homes, people’s lives and livelihoods) needs to come down in order to accommodate the final stages. It’s not like it’s a surprise to anyone, but maybe after 135-some odd years of construction, people were lulled into thinking it was never going to happen. It will definitely be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

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We had some time before the tour to walk around and gawk and snap some photos of the outside. The Nativity and Passion facades are done, with what will be the main entrance, Glory, not even started yet. Everything was planned out and has some sort of meaning. From the 12 towers for the 12 apostles to the land and sea turtles holding up the columns to Gaudí himself being represented admiring his work, it’s crazy to even comprehend. Once the final spire goes up, the building will top out at an incredible 172.5 meters high. Of course that is no random number but just slightly shorter than the top of Montjuic (sitting at 173 meters) as in Gaudi’s mind, no man made structure should surpass God’s creation.

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And if the outside doesn’t suit your fancy, perhaps the inside will. It’s actually fairly plain and subdued inside considering how busy the outside is. But what it lacks in ornamentation it more than makes up for with stunning stain glass and all the light and color that creates. Always looking to unite his favorite topics, nature and religion, Gaudí worked to create a forest-like feel to the place. The giant “tree” columns shoot toward the sky with the warm and cool colored stain glass surrounding them.

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I audibly gasped when we turned the corner and caught the first glimpse. This being a crystal clear, sun shiny morning all the colors were on full display. The range of colors represented and the use of lighter color on smaller windows is just magical. As is the way he has flat surfaces to project that light onto and create a whole nother beautiful work of art prism. But really, how do you even conceive of this and go about beginning construction way back in 1883?!

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Our tour finished up out by the little school Gaudí constructed for all the workers’ sons to be able to attend. From there we were free to go back inside and get a closer look on our own...which is exactly what we did. I would love to see it at different times of day as the angle of the sunlight is supposed to affect the look of the stain glass and colors. As Georgina said, it’s not a bad place to have to come to work every day.

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Next stop was Anne’s stuffed churros recommendation. Oh man, they look even better than I imagined...and taste even better than that!! We went with a plain Nutella filled one and a chocolate coated, almond covered, cream filled number for the other. Absolutely heavenly!!!

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From there I was actually able to read the map and take us on a tour of the other important squares and monuments that were highlighted. I don’t know if I’m happier about seeing all the things or actually being able to read the map (we’ll call it a draw). Parks, gardens, squares, monuments, statues, dogs chasing balls and dogs climbing in the fountains...we saw it all.

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Finally we grabbed a quick lunch to fuel up before our next big endeavor. We split an arrancini (fried risotto ball) and calzone before coming across this great square...which just so happens to be where our free walking tour leaves from shortly.

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That is the Gaudí tour with Runnerbean and guided by Lisa, the Irish lass and yet another amazing tour guide. This tour takes you on two separate metro rides as you traverse the city admiring Gaudi’s most famous buildings from the outside. A few you can actually pay to go into, but sadly there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit that in (my list for my return trip seems to be growing!).

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Yet again we heard about the madness versus genius of this architect. The most famous of his buildings were generally private commissions for homes by people that just had far too much money and just wanted to show off. Years ago when one of the families finally decided to sell the one of the buildings, some American tried buying it to have it dismantled and rebuilt somewhere in the States. That’s when the Barcelona Counsel stepped in, declaring them all protected and ensuring that could never happen. The final stop of our tour was actually back to Sagrada Família for a full circle day. It was actually great cause Lisa covered some new things and also gave us the scoop on where to get the best photo of it. Plus with the lighting different, you could definitely see and notice different things.

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It was an easy enough shot from there back to Catalunya on the metro. I needed a Barcelona Hard Rock pin and we needed to find a proper meal for the day. I was so hungry at that point I was ready to grab the burger off the plate as a server walked by me. I did not do that, but I was minutes away from dashing back to Hard Rock after our aimless wandering was coming up empty. But then at thee very last moment Cindy pointed out one more place to look at. That’s when I spotted albondigas on the menu and said get me a seat!! They are Spanish meatballs in this perfectly seasoned sauce, and these ones had veggies in the sauce too. Yummy!!! I also saw a giant plate of goodness on the table next to us, so potatoes with cheese sauce it is! Definitely one of the highlight meals for me. We even used some of Cindy’s margarita pizza to dunk in that sauce (no need to waste it!!).

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Now fully dark, we got to see the Plaza Catalunya and it’s fountains illuminated before we started the journey back to the hotel. So yeah, that’s what you can do with 14 hours worth of time in Barcelona ;)

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Posted by JackiesJourneys 19:17 Archived in Spain Tagged sagrada_familia barcelona gaudi catalunya free_walking_tours Comments (0)

A Catalan State of Mind

Welcome to Barcelona!!


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Monday, May 20, 2019

Good Monday morning from Barajas airport!! Current time: 7:26 am. Current temp: chilly. Current state: tired, with a side of motivation to type like a crazy person and finally get caught up!!

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With a 7am flight and the metro not open until 6:00, we had decided to do the airport transfer from the hotel. Nice to not have to worry about shlepping our luggage around, but man oh man did they over estimate our pickup time of 4:30. I figured that would be the case. But hey, I am pleasantly surprised to see we aren’t the only ones here and we could actually check in right away. So that leaves me here at gate J46 to be a blogging fool. I’ll check back in later from Barcelona.

And here I am three days later, with this post still not completed and I find myself sitting in the Barcelona airport as we wait to fly back to Madrid for one final night. Hard to believe we are almost to the end of our whirlwind trip. It’s had highs and lows and sun and wind and wine and churros and a whole lot of laughs. But let’s get to Monday’s recap before I close out this journey.

We had no problems with our flight, and once we arrived in Barcelona it was super easy to catch the Aerobus into town. Bonus that the stop was a short walk from Hostal Live Barcelona where we were staying in room 23. Sadly though room 23 was not the larger, 2-twin beds room we had booked, but instead this tiny little double bed room. Ugh! Not a great start to this portion of the trip. But we actually didn’t discover this until about 5:00pm. Getting to the hotel around 9:30am was far too early to check in. So we dumped our luggage off and headed right out into the city, where we were going non-stop into the late afternoon.

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The first order of business was finding some food. A cute little corner coffee shop with sandwiches and pastries did the trick. Then we just had a bit of time to kill before an 11am walking tour of the Gothic Quarter was leaving from Plaça Catalunya. And that area had plenty of shiny things to keep us busy and distracted: statues, fountains, flowers, people and far too many disgusting pigeons for my liking.

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Patrick, our Welsh Be Local Tours guide, has been living in Barcelona with his Spanish wife for about 11 years. He was great fun and very animated with loads of stories to tell. The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of town with the smaller, twistier streets. This part of Spain, Catalunya, is very proud of their Catalan history and traditions and are fighting to hold on to those. Most locations display three flags: the Barcelona, the Spanish and the Catalan. They’ve tried gaining their independence from Spain, but that is a very divisive issue that may never end.

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We had a decent size group and made our way all around the area in about 3 hours. Patrick pointed out monuments and streets and markets while also doling out recommendations and his take as a non-Catalonian living here.

Toward the end I tried keeping my eyes peeled for any good looking restaurants or cafes we could end up at. But of course I got all turned around and couldn’t get us back to those spots. So instead we wandered and found ourselves back by the cathedral. And that’s when we spotted this lovely cafe with an outdoor table calling our name. Menu del dia with white wine for each of us. And let me add that the pimientos rellenos (stuffed pepper) I had is in contention for best food of the trip. The roasted red pepper sauce just made it!!

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We tried going into the smaller market that my friend Anne had recommended, but that one was closed. So instead we braved Las Ramblas and the giant market there. The big draw for us?! All the varieties of fresh juice you can get for a little over a dollar! After trying several the past 4 days, my favorite was the banana, coconut & vanilla combo. Yum!!

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By that point it was past the check in time, so back up Grand Via we walked to take care of that. Raquel, who was there earlier and who ended up being super sweet and helpful, was gone for the day already, so some guy got us all set up. After the shock and awe of the room, we finally decided to go out exploring some more.

About 10 minutes further up Gran Via was Plaça d’Espanya...yet another reason to throw some fountains and monuments in the middle of the boulevard. This area is just far enough away from the Gothic Quarter to be part of the grid plan to the city with wider avenues. None of the fountains were on, but that didn’t stop us from scoping it all out.

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Not sure if we should just head back or what we should do, Cindy spotted something. It was the elevator entrance that seemed to go to the roof of Las Arenas de Barcelona Shopping Complex. Turns out anyone can pay the 1 euro and go on up for 360 degree views. With the sun just having gone done (cause it was now after 9pm) there was some good light and great views to be had.

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Yet another jam packed day ended with us practically dragging ourselves back to the hotel. After all the days of over 22,000 steps (with our highest being 30,000-ish), my feet are ready to be chopped off in order to get a break. But alas, we get to do it all over again tomorrow.

Posted by JackiesJourneys 15:45 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona ramblas catalunya gothic_quarter Comments (0)

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