Monday, February 29, 2016

Walking Tours through Barcelona

We only had one full day and then a half day before we left for Morocco in Barcelona, so we knew we needed to maximize time.   

Gaudi designed all of these funky lamp posts that are scattered around the town and definitely add some personality to Barcelona

This restaurant was a few blocks from our hotel! 

funky Gaudi architecture

 We started out the morning wandering around and made our way to La Sagrada Familia, which is a huge cathedral designed by Gaudi. It has a completely different feel and style than the churches in Italy, which was refreshing. We were hoping to go inside, but there was an hour line for tickets and the tickets weren't for another two hours, so we quickly nixed that idea.

It was never finished, so there are two big cranes outside...

As much as we try to avoid guided tours, they are a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time, so  we checked for a Sandeman's walking tour and found one starting at 11:00.  We did a Sandeman's tour when we were in Berlin and were extremely happy with our experience.  It was three hours long with a fifteen minute break in between.  Our tour guide was great and we really felt like we got to see a lot of the big sights, while learning a lot of information about each one.  We heard/read mixed reviews about the one in Barcelona, but decided to give it a go.  Our tour guide, Andy, was an Englishman who lives in Barcelona and was really into the art history scene in Barcelona, which is great because there is a lot of historical and modern day art.  The tour took us through the Gothic quarter and was the same set-up as the tour in Berlin (3 hours/15 minute break).  In the end, we weren't quite as pleased with this tour because we felt it missed a lot of the major sights (La Sagrada Familia being one), but we did really enjoy our tour guide Andy.

Our tour guide Andy. He was great!

Local artists place their artwork, like that little piece under the lamp post, around the city in hopes of becoming famous. 

When we were finished with the tour, we asked for lunch recommendations and were told to go to a seafood restaurant on the water.  This was perfect since we had not made our way down to that part of town. We decided to split a seafood paella and get our own respective drinks (sangria for me, beer for Mike).   We were told that the paella takes about fifteen minutes, so we spent the next 15 minutes eyeing people's seafood platters as they walked them by.  The popular dish on the menu was 100 euros and meant for two people, but it was a platter of any and all seafood you could think of.  It had a huge lobster in the middle, with clams, oysters, shrimp and all sorts of other seafood surrounding it.  It looked delicious!  Our paella arrived and we were not disappointed either.  It was so big that we couldn't finish it, but were extremely happy with our decision.

give me all the seafood!

After we finished lunch, we made our way to a brewery nearby.  Mike always looks up recommended breweries wherever we go and this time he had found six highly recommended.  The one we stopped at,  Black Lab Brewing, was near our restaurant and had a great atmosphere.  Mike thought the beer was okay, nothing too good, nothing too bad.  We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city, taking in the atmosphere.  We both really enjoyed Barcelona and were pleasantly surprised at how happy we were to just wander.

When we left the Sandeman's tour, we spontaneously decided to do one of their paid tours, the tapas tour.  The tour takes you to three different tapas restaurants and provides you with beverages and tapas for 14 euros.  We thought it sounded like a great deal, so we decided to do that for our Friday night.  We were pretty disappointed by the end of the night because we had been promised 9 tapas and only got six.  Also, the portions were tiny, so we both left pretty hungry.  The beverages had been described as unlimited, but definitely were not, which was another disappointment.  For fourteen euros, it definitely wasn't a bad deal, but it wasn't what we pictured.  We did have a great time on the tour because most people were our age and were ready to socialize.  We even met a guy from DC!

Since we were still hungry and thirsty, we decided to end the night at one of the other breweries on Mike's list. It was good beer and a great way to end the night.

Step Count: 28,855

A good Spanish beer

On our tapas tour, they showed us how the Catalans used to drink wine.  They put the triangle end near their mouth and pour it in without letting the glass touch their mouth.  We all tried with water first and then some of the more daring people (Mike being one) tried with wine.