On the second day of 2016, we headed to the airport in Paris to continue our European holiday – and to check off the next bucket list destination – in Barcelona. We knew Paris was going to be hard to top, but this crew is always up for a challenge!
There was excitement from the start in Paris. We flew out of Orly; Grayson, Max, and I got the special treatment (thank you, Max) and made it through check-in and security just fine. As they were making the last call for boarding, Grayson and I were discussing if we dare fly to Spain without my Mom, Dad, and Kara (who were still in line somewhere…). We made a decision, but we’ll never tell because they got there just in time! The flight was smooth, and Max showed off his frequent flier status. We sat between Kara and Grayson, and interesting enough no one offered to hold him when he was fussing at the start or when he had a “situation” mid-way. Cue the laughs, flirting, and general good nature and everyone suddenly wanted to “help.”
“Cue the laughs, flirting, and general good nature and everyone suddenly wanted to “help.”
We landed in Barcelona late afternoon. I was in charge of accommodations here, and needless to say, there was no Park Hyatt like Paris. I went the Airbnb route (highly recommend if you have the time to research!), and while we waited for our host to arrive Kara and Dad went next door to have a drink for all of us. The apartment was in the Eixample District of Barcelona, with lots of nice shopping, restaurants, and walking distance to most anything. The apartment was quite large; we all had our own bedrooms (including Max), and Penny could have had her own as well. We were on the sixth floor with a great view, including Casa Batlló (one of Gaudi’s more famous buildings) across the street. We made dinner at home and enjoyed an evening in.
I love Barcelona. I’m not sure why exactly, but Spain was my favorite place when I traveled Europe in high school, and it proved to be a favorite this time as well. We saw lots of great sights, but there’s just something about the people, culture, food, and general feel of the city that is comforting and exciting at the same time. I think knowing a little Spanish adds to the atmosphere, too. And let’s be honest – the Spanish are all about their tapas and afternoon siestas; who wouldn’t love it here?!
We walked all over the city. Down the famous la Rambla street with street vendor after street vendor, where Ms. J made us bargain for something in Spanish in high school, and through the very cool Gothic Quarter, where we found the underdog sight of the trip. We came across La Basílica dels Sants Màrtirs Just i Pastor haphazardly as we strolled through the city. We went in the understated and undercrowded church, and on the way out noticed a winding staircase. It was well worth the €2 to go up because it was the most stunning view of the entire city. We also visited the Cathedral of Barcelona, where Max got a rosary in honor of his baptism. And of course, you can’t go to Barcelona without a stop to la Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous unfinished cathedral. It is unlike anything, especially unlike any cathedral, I have ever seen, and pictures will never do it justice. We also toured Camp Nou, home of the Nike-sponsored Barcelona soccer team. Grayson was in seventh heaven, and the rest of us thought it was worth seeing as well.
We ate some delicious food, and tapas style dining is my official favorite. Who doesn’t like to try a little of everything? And the sangria; how do they do it? The fancy W hotel on the sea hosted us for a happy hour on the 26th floor, where we had another “situation” occur – nothing like a diaper change/wardrobe change with a view, right Max? He’s lucky he’s cute. Our favorite restaurants are El Cachitos and Milk if you are ever in the area.
We didn’t realize it until we saw the giant parades and street festivals filled with families, but the biggest celebration of Christmas in Spain is the Epiphany on January 6th when the three wise men arrived with their gifts for baby Jesus. This is when all the kids in Spain get their gifts for Christmas (which makes a lot of sense!). And you guessed it – Max lucked out yet again. He got his first Barca soccer ball and a pretty awesome Barca soccer uniform from the wise men.
And that, folks, is all she wrote for this trip. Kara flew out of Barcelona to San Fran early in the morning (after waking up Max), and the rest of us headed back to Amsterdam. Barcelona bucket list – check! Adios, España, hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo.