Since we couldn’t easily go home for Thanksgiving break, we decided to go to Barcelona instead. We heard the food there was fabulous plus we would have a 4-day weekend to explore the city. We left Wednesday night and instead of driving (which would have taken us 6-7 hours), we took the high speed train (at 180 mph) and we were there in 2.5 hours. The train station is also conveniently located in the center of the city, so we were even checked into our apartment by 10pm.
We booked a place on the main shopping street in Barcelona….Passeig de Gracia. The hotel surprised us with an upgrade to a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment (it was really nice but way more room than we needed). They also gave us a box of chocolates and free internet service – all for the same price as a little hotel room. 🙂 The location was perfect, the view was great and the weather was perfect. The second night we were there the city turned on the Christmas lights so the streets were all beautifully lit up.
Thanksgiving morning we out to have our coffee & pastry and decided to spend the day seeing Antoni Gaudi’s work. Gaudi’s architectural work is so different and wild….seven of his properties are recognized by UNESCO as outstanding examples of early 20th century architecture. Each of his works is more like a piece of art than it is a practical building. He designed everything from lamposts, to buildings, to churches, to parks. We actually spent all day looking at his creations. It was like walking in fantasy land. We first saw Casa Mila and Casa Botilo, then we went to see his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. The church was amazing and we spent three hours there. You can see and read all about it in our next post.
After our church visit, we headed to Park Guell….which is a park designed by Gaudi. It’s not easy to get to, but it is on top of hill so it has a great view of the city. It was an incredibly beautiful day and it was great to be spending it outside. Visiting the park was so much fun and also very relaxing. We sat on the park benches soaking up the sun, looking out to the sea and listened to several musicians and bands playing.
The design of the park is so whimsical and colorful! I felt like I was in the Hansel & Gretel fairy tale. The entrance even has what looks like two gingerbread houses. The walls surrounding it undulate, the park benches are either circular or wrap around like serpents, there are cute little mosaic creatures and beautiful tiles throughout. Curvy trails are all over the hill, going thru little tunnels and leading to all sorts of different places – including the house Gaudi lived in (which is now a museum). I could have easily spent the rest of the day here but it was getting late and we still hadn’t had lunch. We headed out and immediately found a great little cafe near the park and ended up having a majorly delicious little Mediterranean pizza and a mouth watering Iberian ham sandwich.
It was already early evening when we took the subway all the way down to the waterfront and walked up the infamous mile long street (La Rambla). We stopped there to buy some evilly good chocolates at Le Boqueria (a huge farmer’s market) and then picked up some wine, cheese & bread to snack on before going to our Spanish dinner at 9:30pm.
Our restaurant was only a few blocks away from our apartment so we walked there. It was a small restaurant with only 10 tables but it is very popular. I had to make reservations several weeks in advance. The dinner (which consisted of multiple courses) was fantastic. Every dish they served was simply amazing and so different…so many colors and flavors. Some of the things we had included bread, stuffed olives, spicy nuts, a tricolored caramel shot, foie gras on pastry crust with caramelized leeks, scallops, roasted suckling pig, a celery-lime sorbet, a cheese plate, banana mouse with ice cream and caramel sauce and finally several chocolate samples. Robert ordered the local wine pairings. It was great to be able to taste so many different local Spanish wines with each dish. This was by far the best place we ate in Barcelona and so far the best in Spain. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back. We sure hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving – there is so much to be thankful for!