Day 5: This morning I walked to La Sagrada Familia from the hotel. It took about half an hour. There I met some friends from Italy who came to spend the day with me, Barbara and Paola. We toured La Sagrada Familia, which is the most impressive and truly beautiful church I have ever seen. The architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi is truly seen in this building. And it is still not finished! The construction will span almost 150 years from 1882 to 2028, the estimated finish date. I was very impressed. Don’t miss the museum below the entrance. It explains so much! http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/
After touring the Sagrada Familia, we walked back almost to the hotel where we met Barbara’s Spanish friend Maria for lunch….at Mussol….AGAIN! Wow!! I had no idea when I ate my little desayunos there in the mornings that Mussol was an entire restaurant and so beautiful inside! Mussol has many locations. This one is the Mussol Arago. http://www.mussolrestaurant.com/ Here I got to have my first la comida! I have to say, the little chorizos were delightful and the steak was one of the best I’ve ever eaten! I also tried vermouth for the first, second, and third times! Yep, it was so good that I had two more glasses. (And the whole experience with friends and fine food was so distracting to this blogger that I completely forgot to take food photos! Oops!) I later discovered on my way back to Italy that there was one of these Mussol restaurants in the Barcelona Airport Terminal 1.
After a divine feast, the four of us took the bus to Park Guell. https://www.parkguell.cat/en/ The entry cost is 7 euros. I thought the park was beautiful and would have spent a little more time there but all of sudden my 3 companions wanted to go to the Picasso Museum at the other end of the city! This trip would require either a bus or a metro trip. I requested the bus but we missed it by 30 seconds. Rather than wait for the next one, Maria compelled us to walk to the nearest metro station which she said was very close. 20 minutes of high speed walking and we were still not at the metro. My stress level was climbing both from the prospect of riding the metro and from the pain in my lower back and legs from too much fast walking. All of a sudden I was too tired to do any more. We hailed a taxi and I took my leave of my friends to go back to the hotel. I was so exhausted from the miles I walked the last 5 days that all I could do was take a hot shower, have a good therapeutic cry, pack, and go to bed early because I had a stupid early flight in the morning. But often that is the extra price we pay for a good price on a plane ticket. I look forward to a day of rest and sleep when I get back to Lucca.
I want to make a note of the contrast I noticed once I got back to Italy. The Spanish people are very, very kind; more so even than the Italians, which I never would have expected as Italians are a very friendly people. The bathrooms in Spain were as clean as the ones in Germany! The Italian bathrooms are often filthy. The bread in Spain is very edible and the bread in Italy has too much volume with not enough flavor. The Spanish appear to be very healthy, I saw maybe 2 people with a cold the whole 5 days I was there. Sitting in the Italian airport now, I notice that many of the Italians around me are sick. I think the cleanliness, friendliness, and healthy diet of the Spanish is to credit for the difference. Also they don’t kiss each other every time they meet. That being said, I still LOVE Italy!! I’m just tempted to spend more time in Spain.
Day 4: This day was on foot. I was exhausted by the end but had a terrific time! After having another flauta de fuet at Mussol, I managed to locate the Museu Xocolata with some help from locals who I asked for directions. http://www.museuxocolata.cat/?lang=en The Star Wars in Chocolate exhibit was in the house and quite creative. I found the tour was worth the 6 euros. Even though everything I read there could be found online, as a chocolate lover I found it entertaining. I didn’t buy anything there because the prices were outrageous!
On the way to my next destination I stumbled upon a festival to Santa Eulalia. She’s the patron saint of Barcelona. I’ve included several photos of the costumes and the mojiganga, large puppets worn on the shoulders. Here’s a link to a short video of the festival and further explanation: http://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn-events-articles/190-santa-eulalia-festival-barcelona I was wondering what all of that drumming was about!! I always love local festivals and was jazzed to have just stumbled upon one!
Next on my list was the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum. http://hashmuseum.com/en/barcelona When I got there and went into the free downstairs part I realized that as an American hemp activist living in Colorado, there was probably not going to be anything in there that I didn’t know already. So I decided not to pay the entry fee for the upstairs. They have an awesome atrium window up there though! I took a photo for you from the outside. I wanted to save my euros in case I found an artisan market at which to buy gifts for my friends back home……and sure enough! Right around the corner from the hemp museum was a tiny 4 tent artisan market! The first I have seen since arriving in the city. I dropped 50 euro picking up bracelets and such. I had a lovely discussion in Spanish with the sweet woman from whom I bought said stuff, about how the young are not interested in the artisanal items and would rather buy plastic Chinese-made crap. Sadly the artisan markets are dying there.
I was so hungry after the day of walking and wanted something other than another plate of tapas. So I wished for some soup. Right around the corner from the hemp museum was a Ramen bar!!! I got a big bowl of ramen and a plate of gyoza dumplings. Koku Kitchen is such a cool little joint! And I discovered from the woman I was sitting next to that it is literally the very best ramen bar in Barcelona. https://www.facebook.com/kokukitchenbarcelona/ HA! The Witchy Wanderer is 3 for 3 today! Festival, artisan market, and ramen!
Also on my list was the erotic museum, but I was just too tired. I only wanted to be back in the room and put my feet up. Later in the evening I popped out for a tuna belly and tomato sandwich from around the corner. Wow!! That is a great sandwich! I bought a bottle of the wine I really liked at the tasting last night from the reception desk. It was very nice to spend a relaxing evening in the room.
Day 3: Hop on/hop off buses are awesome! I’ve loved these in Paris, Rome, and now Barcelona! Are they a “your door to the destination’s door” experience? No. But they get you close, and over a big city that is an awesome thing!! The prices are reasonable for a one day or two day ticket. The stops are all over the city. You get on and off at the dozens of stops on their route. The headphones provided plug into the back of the seat in front of you and you can hear the tour, timed with the route, in your own language. Bus Turistic Barcelona was very good. https://www.barcelonabusturistic.cat/en/home They are the oldest “hop on/hop off” line in Barcelona. They have lots of brand new buses, regular frequency, are clean and very friendly. Highlights of the bus tour: the Gracia neighborhood where I walked around choking on air pollution, checked out a market, and had a cappuccino with churros….blech; the Gaudi dragon gate where I saw a video on art nouveau; the Olympic center; Montjuic; various beautiful fountains; and the Gothic neighborhood. I didn’t really get off of the bus much because what I was directly interested in was near the hotel and within walking distance. But taking the bus let me see the whole city in one day, much of which I would never have seen without it.
While walking back to the hotel from lunch I saw the…….Obama Bar!!! http://obamabcn.com/ Are you kidding me?? The interior is completely decorated with memorabilia from the British rule of Africa. How ironic that it is named after the first African American President. Hmmm. I asked the bartender why it was named the Obama Bar. She said the bar was ready to open when Obama got elected. The owner liked the name decided to name the place Obama even though the only part of the theme that applies is the “African” reference. Jeez. I met a Texan at the bar while having a whiskey and he said he likes to drink there because the conservative people in the tour he’s taking won’t enter the place!!! Hahahaha!
Now I am resting up so I can spend an hour with the hotel’s sommelier as she introduces me to the local wines. Yum! I’ll probably go out for some tapas afterward. Now….a nap.
The Wine Tasting: I discovered I like wines from the Rioja region, mostly of the Tempranillo grape. Sara, of Hotel Praktik Vinoteca, was brimming with information about the classifications of Spanish wines and how they are made. We tasted 5 – 4 reds and a cava. I was very happy with my 1 hour experience with her. And still, I love the Tempranillo the best. http://www.hotelpraktikvinoteca.com/
a pagan PTSD veteran woman's view of slow travel, culture, & food