Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Barcelona, Spain {Day 2}

Day 1 was a great introduction, but on Day 2 we really jumped in to our exploration of Barcelona! We started the morning with a yummy breakfast on the Club Level of the Hotel Arts. Next up, we caught a quick subway to Casa Batllo (pronounced Bayo). I think this ended up being my favorite thing we did in all of Barcelona!

Casa Batllo was built by Antonio Gaudi for the Batllo family. What to do you see when you look at the facade below? Jason sees sea creatures and I see Venetian masks! Everything had natural curves and just flowed together so beautifully. Even the door knobs were created by Gaudi using a piece of clay that he squeezed in his hands. The chairs were perfectly made to fit the human form and the hand rails were the same.

The VR experience was one of the best I'd seen as well. Everyone got a headset and a phone, which showed you pictures of what the rooms would have looked like with furniture and even highlighted some of the more unique features of the room. I won't ruin anything, but it was so fun (and included in the admission price).

Next, we walked down the Passaig de Gracia a few blocks to Casa Mila, built for the Mila family. This was also fun to walk around, but for a different reason. They had decorations and furnishings from the era inside of this one! There are still many people that live inside this complex as well. The rooftop was pretty spectacular and we probably spent the most time here, looking at the arches and ventilation hoods that looked like soldiers.

After this, we walked over to La Boqueria for a delicious strawberry coconut drink and explored the stalls. We found one we liked and grabbed a seat at El Quim. All of the food (and cava) was delcious, but my favorite was the baby squid on top of over-easy eggs. Honestly, SO delicious!

We went back to the hotel for a bit to hang out at the lounge and relax a bit. We had big plans that evening - a food tour with Devour Barcelona! 

We started at Bodega La Puntual, where we had patatas bravas, croquettes, and a glass of vermouth. Next up, we went to a fun little wine bar and had a few tostadas. My favorite was the eggplant one! Lastly, we went Gran Bodega del Maestrazgo to have a few glasses of wine and jamon, olives and cheese. 

We picked the wine and tapas tour and we were able to learn so much about Spanish wine. We really enjoyed our tour!

After this, we went back to the lounge for a while and called it a night. What an amazing second day in Barcelona!!

Up Next: Our final day - with more Gaudi, of course!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Barcelona, Spain {Day 1}

Over Thanksgiving, we traveled to Barcelona for 3 days and over the next week or so I'll be recapping our trip. We caught a flight through Amsterdam to Barcelona and arrived a little after noon. We were staying at the Hotel Arts, which was our first Ritz Carlton experience. From the champagne at check in, to the Club Lounge access, it's safe to say we were pretty spoiled. We grabbed a quick snack and a drink before freshening up and heading out to explore.

We started with the Gothic Quarter and the Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas market in front of the Barcelona Cathedral. One of the weirdest traditions is definitely the caganer and Caga Tio stands. The caganer figurines are meant to be added to your nativity scene and you can pick from all of the key players - such as Queen Elizabeth, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel? We did pick up a miniature caga tio to put next to our fire to poop out presents on Christmas. It really is just as it sounds...they sure do have a fascination with pooping things!

We tried some churros con chocolate, explored the Christmas decorated pathways and made our way from the Gothic Quarter to El Born, which is known for it's bar scene! We had a cocktail before heading to the Barcelona institution - El Xampanyet.

We obviously looked the confused foreigners, but a friendly soul helped us pick out a delicious variety of tapas - the anchovies, stuffed peppers, fried squid, pan con tomate, leek and tuna, patatas bravas and PLENTY of house cava. What an AMAZING meal!

We ended our evening with a trip to the Club Lounge for a few glasses of champagne and then called it a night. It was a long first day, but we're glad we powered through. 

Up Next: A few Gaudi houses and a food tour - Barcelona, Day 2!