Bon Nadal, Barcelona: What a fun city! I am writing this post and the next two updates while travelling via a lovely TGV train heading back toward Strasbourg after a busy two weeks running around southern Europe with my boyfriend, Greg. As you may or may not know, I am much more used to travelling solo (hence my blog name). But this trip let me experience the joys of travelling with a partner.
Bonus of travelling with a buddy # 1: Someone to watch your pile of stuff while you go to the bathroom instead of trying to balance all your crap in a tiny toilet stall while attempting to not drop anything important in the toilet.
Just kidding! That really is a bonus, but it’s not the most fun or important travel buddy bonus. Especially if the travel buddy is a nice boyfriend.
OK Barcelona. Yes, this is a cool place on earth. Go visit! They speak Catalan 1st, Spanish 2nd. Our Spanish wasn’t stellar and our Catalan was non-existent, but we managed just fine. We spent 6 full days there and were able to do and see a whole lot, so I will just post the highlights.
- MUHBA – This is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. It’s the Barcelona history museum (Museu d’Historia de Barcelona) and it is layed out geologically/spatially/historically. It starts several meters underground at the excavation of the Roman city of Barcino, and slowly moves higher into the detritus of the middle ages, renaissance, etc up to modern Barcelona. Very worth it!
- Palau de la Musica Catalan – This is a stunning concert hall in the middle of the city. We were lucky and caught a pre-Christmas American Gospel Choir performance. Rollicking.
- Tapas – Delicious and everywhere.
- La Boqueria – A permanent, covered market area. Full of delicious things.
- The beach! It was lovely but not tempting enough to take a dip (too cold around Christmas).
- Montserrat – This is about an hour train ride north of the city. A group of monks decided to build a mountain-top monastery here about ~1000 years ago. This was perhaps my favorite thing we did. It was nice to get out to a calm, beautiful spot. We listened to the boys choir performance in the basilica (free every day at 1 pm, has existed for 700 years), and then went exploring up some small canyon for a ways.
- Wine! As in other parts of Europe, wine was amazing and cheap. I have a newfound affinity for Verdejo, a delicious Catalan white wine.
- Gaudi! A trip to Barcelona without seeing any Gaudi works would be a terrible, horrible mistake. We wandered by the two popular buildings near the Passeig de Gracia (Casa Batllo, Casa Mila), we spent an afternoon walking around Park Guell, and of course, we visited the Sagrada Familia. That was absolutely beautiful, easily the most inspiring church I’ve ever been to, maybe even most inspiring building I’ve ever seen at all. The most surprising part for me was the light inside.
- Xocolata amb xurros (chocolate with churros) is an outrageously tasty specialty. Thick and hot.
So, good birthday/Christmas/Chanukah spent in Barcelona.
The other portions of our travels will be posted later.