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Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

San Francisco...
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Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Hi all,

Just returned from an unforgettable trip to Spain, but before I start downloading our full trip report, I wanted to thank everyone on TA for their advice and help in planning our trip, especially Gigis_Mum, Pandachris, Belsaita and so many others. We were definitely able to make the most of our time there, while definitely leaving enough to want to go back again someday.

Day 1 coming up!

USA
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1. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Oh yay--a trip report! I love reading seeing them posted.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Any food? :-)

Looking forward to a good read and welcome back, Ssaintmims!

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

A full food report, Gigis Mum, especially from Alkimia!

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Day 1: Sunday, September 18th

We arrived at BCN (after our original flights being canceled in the Bay Area, and lots of angry words on Mr. S's part to the airline before new flights were issued) roughly forty-five minutes later than our original flight was supposed to arrive. It was perfect, actually, since we got to our apartment on Carrer de Valencia right at 9 when the manager was supposed to open up for us.

The apartment was perfect. Great views out our little enclosed balcony, where you could see the spires and working cranes of the Sagrada Familia. Marcela, who welcomed us, spoke great English and gave us all our transportation options nearby (Two metro trains a block away, and two buses practically at the corner!). We had a small kitchen with washer/dryer, which was great because we could bring clothes enough for a week and just wash them before moving on to Andalusia. You can see pics and more info of the apartment here: http://negre.us/apartments/V366_33/. I would highly recommend renting from them.

After a brief rest we went down towards the Picasso Museum, happening on Sagardi. I had planned to go to Euskal Extea but Mr. S was too hungry to walk any further. We had our first taste of tapas/pinxtos, and what a revelation they were! Even to me, the acknowledged foodie in the family, everything tasted so fresh and so...simple! My favorites were the fish (i think mackarel) with onion on top and the anchovy with green olives and peppers. Mr. S loved the soft cheese with fruit preserve and, of course, the jamon. He especially loved being able to have a couple beers with lunch, while I stuck to water.

The line for the Picasso Museum was about fifty people deep when we arrived but, thanks to TA and some research, we went to the other door to buy an ARTicket and bypassed the entire line! Totally worth it. It was great to see not just the more well-known pieces of Picasso, but also studies and sketches he'd done. Mr. D was fascinated that they had converted an old palace and melded it seamlessly with the blank, modern spaces needed to present the art.

Afterwards, we needed a little break so stopped for some hot chocolate (mmm...) and croissants nearby to people watch for a while. It was threatening to rain so rather than tire ourselves out that day, Mr. S decided we should take a little siesta before dinner. As it turned out, it was a great idea since rain poured until about 8 when we got ready for Mr. S's birthday dinner at Paco Meralgo.

To the owner of Paco Meralgo, I do have to give many thanks. We arrived on time, except we realized that BCNrestaurantes.com had booked me not on the date specified, but a day later! The owner was nice enough to point out our mistake but say that if we were willing to wait twenty minutes, he would seat us at the bar. Hooray! We ordered the croquetas pollo amb jamon (piping hot and so tasty!), sea snails, deep fried baby squid (yum!), gambas al ajillo, and the pan amb tomate at our server's insistence. We thought we'd have to order more, but were so engrossed in the freshness of the ingredients and the simplicity of their preparation (we could see into the kitchen where they were making everything) that we soon realized we were full. We had the hazelnut ice cream for dessert and were beyond satisfied. Mr. D has some more beer and I more water.

We got a little lost again coming out of the Metro, but I enjoyed our stroll down Avenue Diagonal where we could see the Casa de les Punxes and other beautiful buildings lit up.

If y'all are wondering why on earth I, of all people, did not partake of the beautiful wines of Espana, it's because Mr. S and I found out shortly before our trip that we are expecting! It became a family trip, after all!

Day 2 next!

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Oh yes! Full food, alright! I'm loving it! A Chowhound foodie Erica traveled to many Spanish cities and ordered croquetas everywhere she went. She claims that, East and West, Paco Meralgo's are the best! (she would never write such a cheesy jingle -- that was me)

Congratulations on your new addition! I hope your little one will have a middle name that reminds you of this trip. Maybe TA friends can start suggesting a few nice names for a sweet girl or boy. I'll start with "Joan".

Great trip report, so far!

6. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

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Shrewsbury
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for Barcelona
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7. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Congratulations and I'm already looking forward to the next instalment. Interesting to hear that you got the rain, too. We had a visit to Pedraforca in our plans for the Sunday morning but the rain in the Pyrenees overnight was incredible (I counted 15 lightning flashes in one 60 second period) and the morning was frey and very misty so we headed south sooner than expected. We hit much better weather somewhere near Montserrat and by the time we got to Tarragona, where the castellers were just finishing, it was abolutely delightful. It's surprising what a difference 100kms can make.

florida
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8. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Ssaintmims,

love hearing trip report-very interested in apartment-nice area-near market?

which one did you have?

Thanks,

Casa

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Day 2: Monday, September 19th

Up and at 'em early to get to Sagrada Familia by our 9am appointed time, even though it was only about 6 blocks from the apartment. We got there in plenty of time, so stopped at a Panaderia for some cafe con leche and croissants (I love me my croissants). We debated going to the Starbucks next door, but refrained, and we were glad we did. The cafe con leche was just enough to get us going.

So glad we bought advanced tickets as there were already a few bus-fuls of people waiting in line. We got our audioguides and tickets for the elevators and started the tour.

On our flight to Barcelona, a couple seated next to us asked the flight attendant what they should go see when they arrived. Okay, first...you're flying to Barcelona and you're not sure what to see? Maybe I'm an over-planned traveler, but I don't know if I could wing it that far. Anyway, the FA told them about her favorite restaurants and sights to see, but said that for the Sagrada Familia, they could just take photos from the outside as construction was still going on and there was nothing worth seeing inside. Boy was she wrong! I hope that couple didn't miss it because as soon as Mr. S and I stepped inside, we both just stood with our jaws on the floor. Mr. S especially stood there for a few minutes in awe of the architecture and just deciding how on earth he was going to photograph it all. We went up the elevator on the Passion facade side, which was great because we got to see little vignettes of details on the stairs down.

Lunch was a quick sandwich (chorizo de Malaga for me, a frankfurter for him) while we let our camera batteries recharge, then a cab up to Parc Guell. Again, the genius of Gaudi just can't be put into words. We spent a few hours at the park, just enjoying the sunshine and all the little nooks and crannies.

It was mid-to-late afternoon by the time we arrived at Passeig de Gracia. We had a little snack (okay a big snack, we were starving from all that walking) at Txapela Euskal Taberna, recommended by Mr. S's uncle. Some of the pinxtos we had were: fried squid, croquetas (I'm addicted), chorizo, and my anchovy with peppers and olives. While they were all good and yummy in our tummies, I have to say Paco Meralgo did spoil us for a lot of other tapas we ate during our trip.

Our tours through Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Casa Battlo were definitely worth the trip. Both of us studied these buildings in architecture/design school and Mr. S has drawn Casa Battlo twice for the annual street painting festival in San Rafael, so we pored over every ceiling, stair, door, window, floor detail like the design nerds we are. Of course, copious night photos of Casa Battlo taken from the median.

We had planned to go back out and look for dinner after a brief rest at the apartment, but the truth was we were still full from our tapas and a little too tired to leave the couch.

Day 3 coming up!

BARCELONA.SPAIN
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10. Re: Trip Report: September 18th - October 1st

Thank you for your report back. You had a great Gaudi´s day hadn´t you?

Waiting for the following day....