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Back from 13 days in Barcelona

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Back from 13 days in Barcelona

¡Hola amics!

I returned home yesterday after 23 wonderful days in Spain. I had 4 days in Begur and 6 days in Barcelona with my husband, then one week on my own in Barcelona, two days with a friend in Bilbao, and 4 days with same friend in Santiago. Quite a trip!

I'm not going to do a typical day by day trip report of my time in Barcelona, for two reasons. First, I'd never get it done and posted. Second, it would bore you. I ended up a bit ill and hence limited in activities a couple days in Barcelona and, worse, some work issues arose that had me working 3 to 4 hours a day during my week on my own. That limited my daytripping a bit, too.

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1. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

So, highlights to report:

Concert at Palau de la Musica Catalana: This was INCREDIBLE! We took the tour last year (and I still recommend that). Hearing a concert here, for music we love, was amazing. We went to the Michel Camillo and Tomotito concert. It was really quite superb. The audience was incredibly enthusiastic. The sound was wonderful. Just a fantastic experience.

Protests in Placa Catalunya: I found it very interesting to be here during this. We first went the afternoon of Friday 20 May and went again that night (after the Palau concert). We then checked it out briefly several days. I was shocked when I went by the next Friday to see the heavy police presence for what had been a peaceful protest. Shoulder to shoulder police in riot gear. Helicopter overhead. A very, very heavy handed response, I think. I was pleased to see some regrouping the next day. I have not been keeping up with news since leaving Barcelona and am interested in reading up on the current thinking on these camps (what is the long-term goal/plan etc).

Colonia Guell: Amazing. The church is my new favorite of Gaudi's works.

Other sites: The husband and I went to Sagrada Familia. What a different experience than last year, when most of the interior was still blocked off. It is truly beautiful and amazing. Light and open. Just stunning. I went to Palau Guell on my own. While it was impressive, I found it to be too ostentatious (not a surprise of course that it would be such a display of wealth). Hospital de Sant Pau was quite impressive but limited now due to restoration work. I will go back there some day. DE Linda and I met for coffee and then she took me on a bit of a walking tour, the highlight of which was Sant Pau del Camp. What a beautiful, beautiful church.

Wandering: I love to wander and, after a very hectic work year, was in prime wander form this trip. Large chunks of time were given to it in Montjuic, Gracia, El Raval, Barceloneta, and Poble Sec. Poble Sec had a really great feel to me. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it felt very very comfortable to me.

Day trips: I had so many plans in this area, but... :) I was very much looking forward to a hiking day in Vall de Nuria, but...taking the advice of a new friend I went to Figueres instead. Great idea. Vall de Nuria would have been beautiful and invigorating, but I needed the relaxation and contemplation I got from spending a chilly, overcast Saturday in Figueres. I wandered the streets, walked the promenade, checked out the little church, and then sat out on a point, quite isolated, watching and listening to the surroundings and thinking for about 3 hours. A perfect and lovely day. I also took a half day to go to Colonia Guell (which included wandering down a little country lane in addition to the typical sites) and a half day to Terrassa. I foolishly went to Terrassa on a Monday, so I'll need to go back to actually see the churches.

Food: The husband and I had two "foodie" meals: Tickets and Alkimia. Both fantastic. I won't do a full blown food report (I leave that to folks who speak more eloquently and take notes). I will say that we spent less at Tickets than I thought we would. I cooked in the apartment a bit more this year than last year, but I did have lots of meals on my own in the city. I just looked for a place that looked inviting at whatever point I was hungry. Nothing fancy. The highlights: wonderful, wonderful falafel as part of a menu del dia at a place in Poble Sec (the entire meal was lovely, and 9 euro). And somewhere in Eixample, a wonderful wonderful bowl of beans, sausage, and greens. Simple. Perfect. Finally, have to give a shout out to Bar Zim and Formatgeria La Seu. We did a tasting again at Formatgeria. Katherine remembered cheeses we had in the past (either at last year's tasting or at Zim) and made sure to give us new cheeses to taste. All good, of course. Zim remains an absolute delight. Be warned though...it seemed more consistently crowded this year than last. If you want to drop in and don't see any space, go through the square, have a drink at Ginger (or another spot, the name of which escapes me now), and then try again at Zim.

Wow Moment: Some new friends invited me to join them for the Barcelona-ManU match. They had reservations at one of their small neighborhood spots and squeezed me in. Tiny place absolutely packed with folks from the neighborhood, pretty much all rabid Barca fans, and me (so glad I'm a Barca fan and understand the game). It was fantastic. I was going to go to watch at the Arc de Triomf and am so glad I had this experience instead. The city was deafening that night. i sat out on the roof and took it all in til the wee morning hours. Very cool. I also went to the victory parade the next day. Quite fun.

Off the Beaten Path: Based on a recommendation from a Zim regular, I went to the CaixaForum exhibit on Teotihuacan. Fantastic. Really, an impressive collection. A limited description of the exhibit is available in English. The individual items are described in Catalan and Spanish, but I was able to pull enough out of those to learn more about the culture of Teotihuacan. Runs through June 19 and is free. At Hospital de San Pau, we checked out the exhibit "Change of Course: Nine Conditions for A World Without Poverty". Well done, I thought. It did create some cognitive dissonance for us, as we viewed it right before heading to Alkimia for lunch. I have no idea how long it runs. Both of these exhibits reminded me to be thorough in checking out museum offerings when I'm visiting a place for a longer period of time. I also went to a classical guitar concert at Iglesia de Santa Ana. Really neat atmosphere, so-so music, at 20 euros, completely overpriced. I do not recommend.

Apartment: We rented the Valencia Balcony apartment from Negre BCN. It's a beautiful apartment. The bathroom is tiny, but otherwise it's has good space. It was noisy. It's at the front of the building. I'm an open windows kind of gal, but I was unable to sleep at night with the windows opened here because of the bus noise. When I closed the windows and turned on my brown noise loop, I was fine. The neighborhood is fine with easy metro access. I just wasn't particularly charmed by it. I found myself back in the older neighborhoods over and over and will probably look to them for my next trip. Negre was very, very good to deal with, for booking, check-in, etc. Absolutely no complaints about them. And I think this apartment, and even more so an apartment on a higher floor or the back of the building, is a great option.

Safety: We were mugged 17 times. :) (kidding) As I mentioned in an earlier reply post, the bird scam thing was attempted on me. I just walked away. Otherwise...fine. I walk with purpose, I hold my bag in front of me, there was a strong presence of security on the metro (which I took a LOT...loads and loads even though I also walked miles and miles and miles). I didn't feel threatened. I didn't feel all consumed by keeping an eye on my belongings. It was fine. In fact, that was the case my entire trip...until...

Somehow I managed to allow my iPhone to be lifted from me in the Madrid airport, sometime in the 45 minutes before I boarded. <sigh> Notes, all my photos... :(

This was a different trip than last year. Slower, a little more lazy. But lovely. I am still enamored with Barcelona and will start planning for a November/December trip at the end of this month.

(And goodness, this was not supposed to be so long. Sorry!)

BARCELONA.SPAIN
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2. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Great to hear you had such a wonderful time.

Fins aviat.... (see you)

Jose

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3. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Hola Oopsy!

A lovely and thoughtful report. Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear about your iPhone but glad that you had a memorable trip.

San Diego
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4. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Thanks for writing!! It makes me want to go back even more than I do now!

WHEN will I fit it in?? Maybe next year??

Treasure Island...
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5. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

My first time in Barcelona was in 1981 with my girlfriend (now wife) and we spent 4 great days there. This was a one month trip, half over and on the 4th day got so sick l just wanted to die. The following morning we were off to Andalucia, which l could not make. We stopped in a 1 horse town half way down and l mean a 1 horse town. I had to stay for a couple of days to recoop, or try to. We did make it south, but never got to 100% untill the States. So yes SICK is no fun. Glad you made it home OK. Hubie

Fullerton...
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6. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Thank you so much for your thoughtful report. This is just the type of personal information I was hoping to find. I, too, like to wander (not a real "tour" person) so enjoyed your meandering through the City.

I'm just back from Paris and trying to decide on my next trip. Barcelona has always facinated me, don't know why exactly, as I admit I don't know too much about it. There just seems to be a city with a special quality from what I hear and your report confirms that. So thank you, your report was very helpful.

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7. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

What a great report. I will be leaving Sunday headed to Barcelona and very excited to just walk the streets without having a true real cause of being there. You know like the leaves that are blown from the tree.

Anyhow, thanks again for a wonderful report.

Shrewsbury
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8. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Great report oopsy. Feels like we were right there with you for some of your experiences. About 100 days to go for me and we just heard today that our first batch of friends are definitely joining us too.

USA
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9. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

Glad y'all are finding the report useful!

Jose Antonio, thank you for the Catalan phrase. I'm trying to collect more of those. And I WILL get to Vall de Nuria for that hike some day.

Dekage, do consider Barcelona. It will fascinate you more as you learn more about its history and what it has to offer now.

Disney, have a GREAT trip!

Panda Chris, 100 days...sounds like La Merce! :)

Shrewsbury
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10. Re: Back from 13 days in Barcelona

'tis indeed oopsy - and Vall de Nuria too.