The Real Madrid

In Madrid, I drank gin and tonics. Who knew Madrid was famous for their gin and tonics? I didn’t. But I wasn’t upset about it! With full page menus consisting of only gin and tonic drinks, the options were endless. Even if you aren’t a fan of the gin and tonic, there was bound to be one out of the hundreds of combinations you would have liked! The drinks were fabulous, the food was great and the city was full of life. Being the capital of Spain, we knew we were going to have a great time.

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Coming from Seville, it was like night and day. Madrid had that mysterious Spanish vibe combined with that big New York City feel. The contrast was interesting. The old architecture was drowning in cell phone ads and publicity posters. Cabs lined the streets ready to chauffeur people to their next destination. And businesses big and small snugged every wide street and corner. The plazas weren’t so charming, but the people who filled them were. And if you searched deep enough, you would stumble upon old tiny streets that haven’t been touched in decades. Madrid was a maze that my husband and I were so badly trying to figure out. One minute we loved it and the next we’d be questioning ourselves. I think it’s the kind of city you need more than three days to explore.

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We arrived by fast train from Seville late Monday morning heading straight to our hotel. The city is large, so it’s not entirely walkable the way some cities have been, but we did manage to walk all the way to our hotel due to the fact that we needed to kill some time as our hotel room may not have been ready yet (it was rather early). Also, I’m quite keen on doing as much walking as I possibly can now-a-days, given all the tapas I’ve been eating. We stayed at a Preferred Boutique Hotel (which are my favorites! If ever you are traveling to a destination where they have one, I highly recommend staying there!) called Only You. In fact, we loved the hotel (and our room) so much that we ended up staying there the entire first half of the day. Eating lunch over a bottle of wine in the restaurant and relaxing in the tea room over a game of cards until we were ready to go out. Our hotel was located within perfect walking distance to all the sights we wanted to see and all the neighborhoods we wanted to explore. If you turned left out of the main entrance, you’d step into the trendy, local boutique-y neighborhood. And if you turned right, you would wind up by all of the main plaza’s, squares, museums and parks. It was really the perfect mix of everything right below our feet.

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Walking around the neighborhood we were staying in has been one of my favorite thing to do once we arrive anywhere. It helps me get a grasp of what’s around us and also helps me understand the city a bit more. Madrid de los Austrias, the puzzle of 15th and 16th century streets surround Plaza Mayor, the city’s most infamous plaza, and are the oldest streets of Madrid. So we did a substantial amount of walking in that area followed by a quiet dinner at a restaurant our hotel had recommended. It was located within a small door to what seemed to have been an old wine cellar made out of rock and brick. Dark and cold and really cool. Not tapas style, which we were ok with… as all we had been eating lately was tapas! But great food.

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My husband gets in serious tour guide mode whenever we have “tourist days” scheduled. He seriously reads up on where we are going and gets extremely excited about showing me all the cool sites and museums, as if he has been to each one a hundred times before. It’s really funny to me because sometimes we don’t talk like we’re husband and wife until the end of the day when our “tourism” is over. I’m super appreciative of his efforts, I just had no idea I married a secret tour guide! Lucky me…! Wednesday was a “tourist day”. We woke up, got coffee, and went straight to the Prado Museum. This museum is known to have one of the worlds best art galleries, so we were excited. Home to not only Spanish art, but that of other countries and eras as well. Masterpieces from Goya, Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck fill the walls while sculptures, prints and drawings were scattered throughout. I’m not sure if it’s just because we are at the end of a three month escapade through Europe and we have been inundating ourselves with museums and art galleries galore, but we found this museum to be rather boring.

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Our boring museum experience lead us to the magical Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid. Magical might be a stretch, the whole experience was rather elusive as the overall experience was a bit unimpressive. But we happily strolled through the gardens and after walking through some major shopping lanes and eventually made our way to Buen Retiro Park. Buen Retiro Park was filled with picturesque meadows, tranquil walkways and multi-colored gardens that were simply amazing. We loved this park. And seeing as it is huge, we spent a lot of time there. Back in the late 1600’s when the piece of land was transformed into gardens, it included a lion’s cage and an octagon shaped pond, both of which are still in tact today. The whimsical shapes of the trees and surrounding greens are captivating. I dream of going back! We ended our day with tapas followed by gin and tonics, of course!

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Our final day in Madrid was one to remember. After hours of strolling through Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Colon, we witnessed a once in a lifetime moment. The King of Spain was being sworn in and we got to be in the heat of it all. Reporters, cameramen, flocks of people crowded the palace and on Thursday, June 19, King Felipe VI was named the new King of Spain. That’s some pretty serious stuff! And we were there! It was the coolest. Also, I almost forgot to mention, his wife, Queen Letizia, is gorgeous.

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That night it rained. It poured, actually. And just as any 20-something-year-old couple on a budget, we decided to trek through the downfall of the puddles and make our way under a broken umbrella to dinner. I guess you could say it was pretty romantic. We did walk through my favorite park, Buen Retiro, and did share a kiss under a tree as we waited for the hurricane-like winds to die down. I think the kiss came out of fear from my husband… Fear that I might kill him for making me go to dinner soaking wet. He’s still alive, so it worked. We had a lovely dinner at an upscale restaurant and after my hair had finally dried, took a cab back to the hotel.

The next morning we were set to take a flight from Madrid to Dublin, where our Ireland adventure would begin! We were sad to be leaving Spain, but very excited to drink gallons of beer with happy Irish people.

Until drunken tales from Dublin, adios amigos!

Sevilla State of Mind

In Seville, I ate jamon iberico. My brother-in-law, Danny, who studied abroad in Seville, was very adamant about us eating as much jamon iberico as we possibly could during our stay. And now I know why. It was amazing! The food situation in Seville was far better than Barcelona’s and the overall atmosphere of the city was so incredibly old school Spain, it made for one of the most charming and authentic stops we have made thus far. Squeezing Seville into our jam packed travel schedule to salsify my brother-in-law and sister was probably the best decision we made. (Thank you Becky and Danny!!)

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Side note: Seville vs. Sevilla – to us it is known as Seville, but to the locals it is known as Sevilla. I’m never really sure which one to use… So I may refer to it as both. It’s the same thing. And he L’s in Sevilla are silent 🙂

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Seville was all sorts of sexy, which is a word I had yet to use on my blog up until now. The city was so rich in history and so uniquely gorgeous it was love at first sight. Home to Spain’s most colorful architecture and festivals, it’s no wonder the population’s way of life is so relaxed. The Seville natives live life to the fullest. As my sister often reminds me, they work to live, while us Americans live to work. A European concept I have grown to love. Much different than Barcelona and Madrid, Seville locals still take a siesta – a couple hours in the middle of the day where businesses shut down and the people head home to enjoy some relaxing time with their families before heading back to work. Much like it was in Spain back in the day, siestas are still important, however, the city is becoming more Americanized as time goes on. My husband and I were worried we would have absolutely nothing to do for two or three hours in the middle of the day, but we didn’t have a hard time finding fun restaurants to enjoy tapas and the local beer (Cruzcampo) during that time.

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Important note: during the hours of 2pm and about 6-ish, people don’t typically spend time outside. We learned this the hard way. We arrived by fast train early Sunday afternoon. It was a long ride from Barcelona to Seville, almost 6 hours of traveling. We headed straight to our hotel – Hotel Palacio de Villapanès – which was located on a hidden narrow road. The city was so quiet, I could hear myself breathe. We thought maybe it was because it was Sunday, but that wasn’t the reason. It was because we arrived during the hottest part of the day, between 2pm and 6pm…The time of the day where people think you are crazy if you step into the sun. We didn’t know this, so we dropped our bags off in our room (highly recommend this hotel.. we loved it!) and set out to explore the streets of Seville. After approximately four minutes of walking, we were dying from the heat. Seville gets uncomfortably hot in the months of July and August, but the travel books warn you that mid to late June can be just as bad… And that’s when we were there.

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Lunch is the most important meal of the day in Seville, which sounds strange as us Americans like to make dinner the most valued time to dine. It does in fact make a lot of sense though. Families gather every day for a few hours in the afternoon during siesta and then go back to work until early evening. So why wouldn’t lunch be the biggest meal there? I love breakfast and I do enjoy a big dinner, but lunchtime has never completely sparked my interest. But when in Seville, we dined over excessive tapas, bottles of wine and Cruzcampos at lunch followed by a relaxing couple hours back in the air conditioned hotel. Our first tapas experience was at a place called Bodega dos de Mayo… Which was about a four minute walk from our hotel and where we stopped once we got too hot to be in the sun any longer. We shared tapas ranging from jamon iberico (the best ham in the world and so much better than your typical prosciutto), flamenquin (a tapa my sister, Becky, recommended as it is her favorite! It’s hard to explain what it is, but if you are ever in Seville, order it. Trust me.), potatoes bravas (typical Spanish potatoes) and many, many more.

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Seville isn’t a city where every single restaurant and bar provides English speaking menus, so we found ourselves winging it in a lot of situations…. Not always working in our favor as we would get dishes we weren’t super enthused with. Like fried fish tapas and creamy mushrooms… Not my favorite. Also, as I mentioned in my Barcelona post, my two years of high school Spanish got me nowhere. It was kind of fun just pointing to things on the menu and then being surprised though! It forced us to try all kinds of new foods and we found ourselves loving more than less.

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After a filling lunch, we decided to stroll through the scorching heat of the city for the rest of the afternoon. I have never sweat the way I sweat that day, no bueno. Despite the heat, it was really nice having the streets to ourselves. There was literally no one on the roads and all of the beautiful side alleys were ours. We didn’t have to share with anyone and I liked that. All the sweat and SPF usage was worth it. Seville is not that big, you can walk the entire city in just a few hours passing over the bridge to Triana, where really neat old buildings topple over one another and fabulous ceramics are made. We wanted so badly to get some ceramics for our home (our future home), but given our current suitcase situation, we just couldn’t swing it.

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As I have mentioned before, dining in Europe on Sunday nights is never easy. The world shuts down and you are left fighting for a table at one of the touristy restaurants that’s actually open. Here in Seville, the night life was a bit more robust. There was a row of restaurants lining a beautiful street, all with outdoor seating and live entertainment. Entertainment in the form of old men strumming their guitars and singing Spanish melodies while serenading couples at their tables. We dined over tapas and local wine and witnessed a rather drunk man at the scene of a crime. Exciting stories like these are far from my daily tales, so I’ve been eager to tell it!

Here it goes – while we were sitting there, clinking our glasses over, “cheers to our first night in Sevilla”, a very drunk man sprinted past our table… beer in one hand, humongous hookah in the other. Water spilling atop the hookah and beer spraying in all directions. Behind him sprints a woman hostess and a male server screaming things in Spanish that neither Mike nor I understood. All of a sudden, our waiter dropped his tray and started sprinting after the drunk man as well, as did other waiters from different restaurants all along that street. It wasn’t before long that the glorifying moment happened – the female hostess was spotted walking back up the street… carrying the hookah over her head as if she had just won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in a movie. Behind her were two male waiters (Both from different restaurants) escorting the drunk man up to the original hookah bar where this all began, probably to hold him in place until they called the police. The other waiters walked behind high-fiving each other in happiness. All of the restaurants on the row were packed with hungry customers eating dinner, and we all stood up and cheered as the “hookah stealer” shamefully walked past with his head down. Mike and I obviously participated in the standing ovation, claps and whistles. Hugs were going around and the entire restaurant community, servers and diners, for that night only, became one big supportive family. It was amazing! And it goes to show that in the city of Seville, they all really do have each other’s backs.

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Breakfast in Seville = tiny ham and cheese sandwiches on toast… which are so good because they are made with jamon iberico! How I know this – my brother-in-law’s best friend and wife, who my sister has become quite fond of, live there. So naturally, Monday morning we met them for breakfast! It is so nice to socially interact with people who speak your language and that you have even the slightest connection with. Jesus and Sarah have two beautiful young daughters and have been living in Seville together for years. Sarah being from Nebraska caused her to have that Midwestern charm that I know and love so much, and Jesus being from Triana, just over the bridge from Seville. They were so incredibly sweet and we had such a good time eating breakfast with them that we decided to meet for dinner that night too! Two meals in one day… That’s love. They gave us some great suggestions for sights to visit and things to do. They also gave us the low down on all things Seville – from siestas, to schooling, to the crazy hot weather, to the architecture, and the list goes on. It was an entire handful of information we continue to find interesting. It was great.

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Aside from eating and drinking extremely well, there is much to do in Seville! Being fully aware of the heat situation that was going to come over us at some point that afternoon, we started our Monday early. After breakfast we headed straight to the famous Cathedral & La Giralda. It was massive and so impressive. We had to stand in the heat of a line for about 20 minutes, but once we got inside we were so amazed by the iconic gothic architecture of the interiors that the wait was worth it. With 90m high ceilings and intricately decorated walls, the cathedral is really exceptional. If you happen to visit Seville and visit this church, be sure to go as early as you can. For heat purposes, obviously, but also because it closes early and you don’t want to miss out!

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The Alcazar Castle, Seville’s royal residence for many centuries, was next on our list of things to do. Mike and I both love palaces and old living quarters, which I have mentioned before, but this one I was particularly excited about because of its lovely gardens. The Alcazar has been rebuilt and redecorated many times in its decades of existence, first founded for the Muslim fortress and then slowly taken over by the Catholic Monarchs. Aside from the colorful tile that lined every room wall and entrance, the outdoor gardens and patios were exquisite. With a maze (an Alice in Wonderland type maze!) built in the middle and fountains leading to rose families, it was heavenly.

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In the middle of the city is this crazy bizarre piece of architecture that was built for… I’m actually not really sure of the reason. Some German architect visited Seville years ago and decided that one of the plazas would lend itself perfectly to a random curvaceous design of his. They then proceeded to build it and surround it with bars and restaurants. It looks really cool, but doesn’t quite fit in with the city’s old charm. Jesus was telling us that it was built spontaneously out of wood… Which is really silly because the extreme heat in the summers of Seville will cause it to slowly deteriorate. Wood probably wasn’t the best option, but I’m not an architect, so who am I to judge! It’s just really bizarre to me. We ate a big lunch in the plaza and then took a siesta. In blasting air conditioning.

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My sister has been to Seville with her husband a few times and is always raving about her favorite restaurant, Bar Santa Marta. She kept telling me it was the restaurant in the plaza. Well, Seville has at least ten plazas, maybe more, so that wasn’t very helpful. However, we did manage to find it and eat a late dinner there with Jesus and Sarah (Seville locals eat dinner around 10pm, with their kids and all. The reason being that no one wants to go outside until the sun sets as it is just too hot! They also work a little later than us Americans due to siestas, so it all makes sense. They’re theory is… If the kids are that tired, they will fall asleep. And so they did! Both of their kids passed out right at the dinner table over flamequin and tortilla. It was great!). The restaurant was far from fancy and nothing special, but the food was so good!! Probably the best tapas we had in all of Seville. Before we ate dinner, Mike and I got some drinks and tapas at one of Spain’s oldest bars, El Rinconcillo. This was another place my sister and brother-in-law told us about and it was awesome. Super old and really cool. If you are ever in Seville, you have to go here. It’s a must!

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Late Monday night was an exciting night for my husband. USA played Ghana (at midnight Spain time) in their first World Cup game and we were determined to find an “American” bar to watch it with fellow Americans. It was a hike, but we found an Irish pub near the bridge to Triana and got to sing in glory with a bunch of American college kids as the US kicked butt. My husband’s favorite night ever. Drinking at the bar with drunk college kids as they shouted chats at the television screen. We even met a boy from Wisconsin who was studying abroad in Seville! It’s a small world after all. (Please notice my husband’s happiness in the photo below with the fellow Wisconsin boy that we met…).

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Tuesday morning was rough as we were out rather late drinking tinto de naranja’s at dinner (tinto de naranja = the famous drink in Seville… a mixture of red wine and fanta (yes, fanta, the soda) on ice. Rather a strange drink, but my sister would have killed me if I went all the way to Sevilla and didn’t order one!!) and beers with college kids until 2am. Luckily, the train from Sevilla to Madrid was only a few hours long. Stay tuned to read more on Madrid! Until then, ciao!

The Hidden Streets of Barcelona

In Barcelona, I ate paella! I have long been wanting to make paella at home, but the challenge seems too difficult to overcome just yet. And I’m sure eating it in Spain is so much better. My husband and I became huge fans of Spanish food and tapas were a great way to try everything. We sipped sangria and fell in love with the croquettes. We never had a hard time finding good food in Barcelona and the atmosphere made eating it even better.

Barcelona is confidently one of Europe’s coolest city’s. It’s always on the cutting edge of art, design, architecture and food. The big city vibe combined with old Spanish charm make it easy to fall in love with. No wonder people decide to study abroad here! The dark, tiny streets are hidden like secrets which make them so magical and romantic. The people are so full of life and the air must have something in it that makes everybody happy. Barcelona air has endorphins. It must.

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I felt useless with the two years of High School Spanish under my belt. Not only because I forgot almost everything other than, “hola” and “gracias”, but also because Barcelona natives speak Catalan. Sure, they speak Spanish as well, and many of them speak English too, but Catalan is their dominant language. I never quite understood the story behind Catalonia and Spain, but I got a taste while I was there. Catalonia (Barcelona) is actually struggling to become their own government. They have no Spanish pride and would like to eventually become their own country. In fact, in just a few months they will be meeting with the new King of Spain (residing in Madrid) to discuss the possibilities of this happening sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to see what happens. It’s funny to me because I never removed Barcelona from Spain, I always thought it to be proudly part of the beautiful country, but I was wrong. We learned much of this while watching the Spain vs. Netherlands World Cup game at a crowded outdoor bar. Mike and I were excited to be there to watch the Spain fans go wild at the television screen, however, the crowd went wild in happiness when The Netherlands scored a goal. They were actually rooting against their own country! All in all, Catalonia (Barcelona) does not want to be a part Spain, they would ideally like to be their own country.

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We arrived by plane early Wednesday afternoon. It was our first flight of the trip and all went smoothly! We did not take advantage of the super cheap flights on Ryanair as they were unavailable, but we did find good rates on another airline. The reason we flew was because the travel time from the South of France to Spain would have taken an entire day. And we didn’t want to waste any time. Like France, Spain’s main means of transportation were on strike. Meaning no trains and no taxi-cabs were running. So we had to take the city bus from the airport to the hotel, not the most comfortable option, but I am quickly becoming less snobby about public transportation, so it didn’t bother me. We stayed at a really gorgeous boutique hotel called Hotel 1898  that sat right along the La Rambla, which is Barcelona’s most famous boulevard. Our room was rather noisy as the windows looked right out onto the vibrant streets (Barcelona is one big non stop party, so it never quieted down), but the overall location, beautiful rooms and atmosphere made it perfect for us. Another perk being the rooftop pool and bar which offered stunning views of the city and made our stay even more enjoyable!

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We had so much fun strolling through the La Rambla boulevard, stopping at flower vendors and unique shops that lined the car-less row all the way down to the water where it ended. On either side of the boulevard were the small, dark, tiny streets  that I found so magically romantic. These were the most fun to explore. We must have walked a hundred streets while we were there and it never got old. We’d look for tiny restaurants, cafés and bars to grab food and drinks in, and we happened to stumble upon some really cute places!

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Our first day consisted of exploring the tiny streets followed by a rather unimpressive dinner. Our hotel concierge recommended a restaurant close to the hotel called Restaurant En Ville, and since we were both so tired from traveling, we decided to trust him. Important note: Whenever the hotel concierge pulls out a business card of the restaurant he/she is recommending, never go. This is not a good sign. It’s unfortunate because we knew better, but again, we were so tired that we decided to trust him. Terrible decision. Anyways, we ate really bad seafood, a mediocre bottle of wine and then bolted to a colorful bar down the road where we enjoyed tapas accompanied by a pitcher of sangria! It wasn’t the worst way to end a bad dinner and tiring day!

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Thursday morning we set out to explore even more of the city, making a pit stop at Gaudi’s famous designed building, Casa Batllo. I fell in love with all things Gaudi while I was in Barcelona. Sure, I’ve learned about him, read about him and knew how significant his innovative designs and architecture was, but I never truly appreciated the genius that he was. Blown away by the building’s movement and curvature, I was so excited to see the La Segrada Familia, which we had purchased tickets in advance for (very smart thing to do) on Friday.

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After hours of walking, we decided to eat lunch at the big local market right along the La Rambla. I love local markets more than anything, so I was really excited to spend some time there! The extremely colorful Mercat de la Boqueria had an extremely inviting entrance and an even more intriguing inside. With tons of fresh stands and a number of bars and cafés to choose from in and around the establishment, our options were endless. We ate some really good seafood and delicious tapas, had some local wine, and then ended our afternoon with fresh fruit juices!

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That night we dined at a well known restaurant called Ciudad Condal. Famous for fresh tapas and delicious sangria, the place is always packed. With a strict no reservation policy, the wait can usually be very long, but we got lucky with a table by the bar. We shared way too many plates and sipped some really good sangria. The fun atmosphere was absolutely better than the food, the portions were very large and the dishes were just okay. We had so much fun dining there though that it was worth it! After dinner we stopped at a sports bar to watch one of the World Cup games. It was the first night of the World Cup, so if you can imagine, the bar was packed with people in great spirits! Which made it really fun!

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We had purchased tickets in advance to go see Gaudi’s La Segrada Familia for Friday at noon. I was so excited. I’ve heard such amazing things about the masterpiece, but seeing it in person blew me away. The line to get inside the temple wrapped around for blocks, but with our passes we had purchased online we didn’t have to wait at all! As soon as we stepped up to the entrance, our jaws went limp. We were speechless and awestruck with many different feelings. It was a moment of wow. Hands down the coolest architecture and design I have ever seen, words can’t even begin describe its beauty. Barcelona’s most famous attraction and for good reason began its construction in 1882. Still not complete, they are hoping for it to be finished by year 2026. At which time I would love to go back and see it completely finished! Cranes and scaffolding obscured many of our views, but so much of it was visible and what I could see I loved. We took an elevator up to the top of one of the towers which lead to the most stunning views of the city. We also walked through the small museum explaining much of Gaudi’s progress in the works of the temple and his life. It was just the coolest church ever.

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We were in such good spirits after having such an eventful morning at the church, we had a really fun lunch filled with tapas and beers at a cute spot called Set de Gotic followed by a relaxing afternoon at our hotel’s rooftop pool. We drank sangria over a competitive card game and soaked up some vitamin D. For dinner that night we ate at a fun restaurant in a tiny plaza right below our hotel called Bar Lobo. The tapas were amazing and the atmosphere was great! We loved it there! Just outside the plaza was an outdoor bar with a huge flat screen TV. We grabbed seats and beers and watched Spain play The Netherlands in the World Cup game. This was the night my husband and I got a true taste of the Barcelona sports fan. The crowd screamed negativity toward Spain and cheered on The Netherlands. It was so bizarre. Still really fun though!

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Saturday was our final night in Barcelona. We started the day by taking a walk by the water, exploring the coast and gazing at the hundreds of sail boats.

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We then proceeded to walk to the coolest restaurant ever, Cal Pep. The restaurant seats roughly 20 people and is open weekdays and on Saturdays from 1:15pm-3:45pm and there are no reservations. A line of prospective customers stands outside the door typically an hour before opening… that’s how desirable this place is. It’s a spot where locals go to gossip and eat spectacular food. How did we hear about it you might ask? My mother-in-law and sister-in-law dined here during their trip to Barcelona a few years back and still swear it is one of the best meals they have ever had. So Mike and I got to the restaurant around 12:45 and waited in line. As soon as the doors opened, a nice man sat each diner along the bar where you get to watch the chefs cook. Mike and I were the last two people who made it in the restaurant, being seated at the very end of the bar. We were all smiles and high-fives as we had just made the cut to eat at the coolest place ever!! The people behind us who didn’t make the cut just stood outside and waited. Brutal. No menus were provided, the chef just started bringing us food, it was amazing. We ate the best fried octopus I’ve ever had, delicious mussels, potato omelets (also known as a tortilla here in Spain) and so much more. We shared a bottle of wine and had a rather expensive, but perfect lunch. Cal Pep was one of my favorite experiences of Barcelona and one of the best meals I have ever had. I am so excited because each customer receives a recipe card for the potato omelet! I am going to attempt to make it for my husband as soon as we get back from our trip 🙂

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That afternoon we visited the Picasso Museum, home to over 3,000 Picasso pieces. We love museums and we love art, but we were actually rather disappointed by this museum. Sure, it was cool seeing doodles Picasso drew when he was just 14 years old, these doodles were amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the museum did not house any of his well known masterpieces. It was kind of just a hodgepodge of works that they stumbled upon from his childhood one day. My favorite series of work in the museum were that of his Pigeon paintings. I despise pigeons more than anyone in the world, they are useless creatures who are literally good for nothing, but he portrayed the pieces really beautifully, actually!

Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral was next on our list of things to see. It was built in the 11th century and was so dark and bold. The chandeliers were my favorite. This church was a lot more dramatically gothic than any other church I have seen and I really loved it. I was happy we made the trip to see it.

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Before dinner that night, my husband and I took a walk down to the Plaza Espanya metro stop to see the fountain show, which happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night starting at 5pm until 10pm. My friend Abbé studied abroad in Barcelona and is in love with the city! She had some great suggestions of things to do and this was one of them! After our romantic water escapade, we dined over paella at a very authentic Catalan restaurant. I’m not the biggest fan of cutting open and de-shelling my own prawns, but it was worth it.

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I learned so much during my time in Barcelona and I have a list of tapas to add to my cooking to-do list! I’m so excited to take what I have captured here back home with me and infuse it into my everyday life. No, my paella will never taste as good as that from a traditional Catalan restaurant, but I sure as heck can try! And my prawns will be de-shelled, so there. 🙂 Sunday morning we board the fast train to Sevilla! Stay tuned for authentic tales on old Spanish charm. Until then, adios!