I woke up, looked at my watch, it said 1PM, I said “holy crap,” and went to see if Jenny was up. She was half asleep but immediately popped up when I opened up her makeshift bedroom door. We chatted for a few minutes to discuss the game plan for the day which immediately included me taking a shower and the three of us getting food. So I got in the shower, and it was an excellent shower. Solid water pressure and hot water, can’t ask for anything more. After we all got dressed the three of us made our way day the 110 stairs and Jenny decided to take us to a place near her apartment called Buenos Migas. It was like a café that sold flat bread pizza, quiches, coffee and other assorted things. I decided on a slice of spinach and feta cheese quiche and a slice of the flat bread pizza and a fanta. While the quiche was amazing the pizza was extremely disappointing. I felt like it wasn’t cooked long enough, and was not heated in an oven but instead in a crappy microwave.
After brunch, Mallory went back to the apartment to take care of some things and Jenny and I were off for the day. Our first stop was to head to La Rambla and the wonderful food market to get some freshly squeezed fruit juice. This juice wasn’t your garden variety fruit juice but the vendors produced extraordinary combinations of fruits together that produced excellent juice. I ended up having mango/coconut and Jenny had strawberry/coconut. Both were fantastic and all for 1 Euro each! What a bargain.
Once we were finished strolling around the market we left La Rambla and headed to the Gothic Quarter. Even though we had briefly been there last night I wanted to walk around and see what it had to offer. I am already drawn to Barcelona and its incredible architecture. It is unlike anything I have seen before. I mean sure most European cities have “old towns” but it seems like all of Barcelona is made up of old buildings. In the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona are famous churches and cathedrals as well as the Jewish quarter. The narrow side streets remind me of Venice except they are a little wider. Also in the Gothic Quarter are a ton of art museums including the world famous Museu Picasso. A museum dedicated to one of Spain’s most decorated artists, Pablo Picasso.
Our first stop was the Jewish Quarter where we attempted to find this very old, underground temple found about twenty years ago when the landlord next door was trying to build a bar and discovered this temple. Unfortunately the temple was closed as it was Saturday afternoon, but we snagged photos in front of the tiny wooden door. It was one of those places that if you didn’t know it was there you would never find it as it has no signs.
After walking around the Jewish Quarter for a little while went to a square with two massive governmental buildings. On one side is the building for Catalunya and the other was the building for Espana. The guards were dressed differently and you can tell there is ongoing tension still between the Catalonians and the Spanish.
Our next stop was simply called Cathedral. It was very disappointing since the front was being refurbished which meant it was draped in a fabric that had a picture of what the Cathedral would look like once it was finished. There was so much construction around it, on it and in front of it I didn’t even bother to take a photo and was very disappointed. However while walking around it before we got to the front we stopped in a small square and noticed the back of it. It was really cool as it was not covered in any type of construction and you see the detail and amazing architecture that was Cathedral.
Now one of the only places that sounded really interesting to me was the church of Santa Maria built in the 14th century. I had mentioned it to Jenny and that the book said it was located in the Gothic Quarter. Amazingly she had never heard of it but we were destined to find it. After walking from the Gothic Quarter to El Born another neighborhood of Barcelona after turning down random streets we finally come to this old looking building and low and behold it was the Church of Santa Maria. Even more amazing was that when we first arrived the doors were closed and I was upset as I knew inside would be really cool. So unintentionally we hung out for a little while and then a few minutes later we noticed people walking in and started to run towards the entrance. Not only was it open but entrance was free!
Inside the Church was as amazing as I had imagined it would be. Incredibly high ceilings, stained glass windows, it was breathtaking. I really enjoy old churches and cathedrals. If you just spend a minute to think how old it is, the history that it has been apart of, it really hits you. From the Church of Santa Maria Jenny took me to this candy shop called Happy Pills. It was a really cool shop where you got to make your own pill bottle of candy. I grabbed the smallest one and crammed as much as I could in to it. Since you did not pay based on weight, but rather a flat rate based on the size of the bottle I was free to jam as much as I could.
It was time to get back on the metro and head to a new part of the city Montjuic or also known as the Mountain of the Jews. This where they buried Jews during the many hundreds of years of persecution the Jews dealt with while living in Barcelona and much of Europe for that matter. We took the metro to a furnicular (incline railway type thing). From the furnicular we took a cable car up and then back down without getting off (so we didn’t have to pay for a roundtrip). The views from the cable car were awe-inspiring to say the least. It was 60 degrees Fahrenheit out, not a cloud in the sky and we got a view of the entire city; from the sea to the mountains. From the cable car you could see the famous Sagrada Familia Church, the cruise ships in the marina and everything in between and around. Jenny and I snapped a few photos and when we got off the cable car back where we started we began our journey up the mountain towards the Olympic Stadium.
Barcelona hosted the 1992 summer Olympic games. The main Olympic stadium which was originally built in 1932 in hopes of attracting the Olympic games for the mid 20th century failed and so when they were awarded the bid for the 1992 games they spruced up the stadium they had once built and erected other structures like the Olympic pool, Olympic park and of course the Olympic torch. I really enjoy Olympic stadiums for some crazy reason, maybe it is just my affinity for the Olympics in and of itself so when I have a chance to see where games were played (especially ones I have watched), I get excited. Well lucky for us there was a part of the Olympic stadium opened for tourists and locals to snap a photo and take in the scene and that is just what we did. Unfortunately the space available was probably 20 feet long and didn’t provide much wiggle room. Jenny and I had to fight to get photos from the very rude Spanish travelers who have invaded Barcelona during the Easter break.
After snapping photos and walking around the Olympic stadium and Olympic park we decided it was time to head for the Magic Fountain. The magic fountain which is situated at the bottom of the mountain in front of the National Art Museum (a really cool building) put on an automatic fountain show with lights and music. However, the good part of the show occurs after sunset when the lights come on. Before sunset there is music and the fountain shoots water in different directions, from different angles providing an interesting array of water being thrown around but not that exciting.
Jenny and I got there around 630PM and had to wait about 30 minutes before the first show started at 7PM. We situated ourselves on the top of a long set of stairs where many others were sitting. We were also saving a seat for Mallory so for the next hour or so we had to stave off many tourists looking to sit in our prime seats, but we prevailed and Mallory had her seat waiting for her when she arrived.
At around 730PM after watching the fountain do its thing Jenny turns to me and goes “uh-oh.” I go “what?” She responds by saying that daylight savings time was last week so it won’t get dark for another hour. I was not happy. This meant we would have to wait at least another hour before it got dark enough for the really good lights to go on. So we ended up sitting there another hour or so until the deep red, purple, pink and orange lights came on like you see in the photos. We went down close to the fountain to snap a few photos and then made our way back onto the metro and over to La Rambla for dinner.
We decided to eat at a place called Attic. It was a fairly fancy place on top of Nike Barcelona. We ordered a few appetizers for the three of us, two bottles of water (we were very dehydrated and since water isn’t free and they were in small .5 litre bottles we had to get two), and a bottle of white wine that I picked out from the many listed in Spanish. I had a good feeling about this one. I ended up ordering duck again but this time as my main dish, with tarte tartin pear and a really tasty sauce.
After our main course we ordered a few desserts (hey I’m on vacation). I ordered a three chocolate mouse (white, milk, dark) while Jenny and Kwitter ordered something similar to the morton’s chocolate cake that oozes out chocolate from the middle except this one had chocolate ice cream not vanilla but was damn good. Once dinner was over Mallory bid us adieu and went back to the apartment. She had to wake up early since her mother and sister were coming from New York to spend the week in Barcelona and she had to pack up her stuff for the hotel the three of them would be staying in and take care of things.
Jenny and I made one more stop; La Oveja Negre (The Black Sheep). This was a very old styled bar with beer or sangria (both from the tap and delicious). We ordered a small pitcher of Sangria, sat down on one of the long wooden benches and reflected on our long, yet very eventful and exciting day. We ended up staying not too long as both of us were very full from dinner and tired from walking around all day. We hopped in a cab back to Hotel Casa Fuster (this time got dropped off a little further down the road), and up the 110 stairs and directly into bed. Tomorrow I was meeting up with my friend Stefan from Koln, Germany. He is Juliane and Stefan, the couple I met on my Africa trip from Koln who we also surprised at the train station in Amsterdam during our mini reunion in January. Anyway we arranged to meet at 11AM in front of Hotel Casa Fuster and go from there so I had to wake up early and was tired.