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A Catalan State of Mind

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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

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