Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our first day in Spain

I've been going back and forth about how to recap the 2 weeks we spent in Barcelona and Provence...I don't want to do a day by day, step by step overview (for your sake and mine!), so I'm going to organize it a little differently.  But, with that said, I'm going to share all of our first day there, because it was really one of the best. 

IAD - JFK - Madrid - Barcelona - train - metro - walk. 

It was quite an ordeal to get to our lovely apartment, but we made it, backpacks and all!  I was most excited about this day for several reasons - one, we had finally made it to Spain after years of talking about it and 2 - my wonderful friend Emily and her husband were meeting us there from England!  Timing was perfect - as we arrived at the apartment, they came walking up from the other direction!

Once we dropped the luggage off and freshened up a bit, tour guide M took us off to get some delicious tapas for lunch at Pura Brasa

While Emily ate her hamburger, the rest of us had calamari, scrambled eggs, blood sausage, grilled fish and more.  A few pitchers of sangria and tons of food later, we wandered off to explore.

We happened upon this great market, right around the corner from where we were having lunch!

Olives, onions, and other antipaste type items in these enormous barrels.

Tons of different types of tea

A wood burning fire pit, just set up in the street!

Amazing paellas in enormous pans

After the market, we wandering around this square a bit, stopped for a quick espresso recharge, and then headed towards the beautiful museum.

The Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is beautiful and very grand.  It's housed in the former "Palau Nacional" at the foot of Montju├»c.  We didn't care to go in, but did walk up to the doors for the view back down the hill. 

After wandering around the grounds, we headed back to freshen up before dinner - after the long redeye flight and hot day, we were grateful for that!

Dinner at Vinateria del Call was fantastic.  Probably my favorite overall meal in Spain.  It wasn't the fanciest or the most expensive, but it was just the best of everything.  The restaurant was tiny...and slightly complicated to find in the old Jewish Quarter of Barcelona.  Walking through the old, tight, stone streets felt like we were on a movie set, it just didn't feel like it could be real!

The wine was delicious and very inexpensive.  We asked for suggestions on local Catalan wines, and had a great white and red. 

The food was tapas style, and we ordered at least half of the menu by the end of the night!  The gentleman who waited on us was great fun.  We started with meats and cheeses, which were amazing.  Then we had at least 2 rounds of dishes come out, maybe 3 - fried peppers, chorizo, croquettes, fish, tomato bread...and so much more.  We ordered desert, then had a glass of port, and then he brought us a special sip of a cordial, Ratifia Russet.  Mom got the name of it and a store to find it and bought a bottle to take home! 

The food and wine were wonderful, atmosphere cozy and inviting, and company perfect!

We said goodnight to the parents and powered on, determined to get some Barcelona night life in with our friends.  After a bit of a walk and (ridiculous) search for absinthe, we gave up and settled on an Irish pub with plenty of beer!  Emily and I chatted while the boys played darts, and enjoyed our time together!

After grand hugs and goodbyes, we got into separate cabs, heading home.  They were leaving the next day to head back to England, and we had some sightseeing to do!

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