Tuesday morning of our trip, we met our tour guide from Runner Bean Tours at Plaça Reial and he took us on a walking tour of the Old City. At first, we kind of rolled our eyes because he totally had the 'annoying tour guide' look, but he was really great. The microphone speaker box that he wore was humorous, but really came in handy in some of the crowded squares. It was better than not being able to hear him!
We visited several squares, walked through the old Jewish Quarter (El Call), the Roman City and the Medieval city.
This was in the cloister of the Barcelona Cathedral, also known as La Seu.
The tour lasted about 2.5 hours, and our guide Gorka was great. The Runner Bean Tours are free, you pay what you think the tour is worth.
One afternoon we took the cable car up to the top of Montjuic. It's a small car that you ride all the way up to the old military fort, Castell de Montjuic.
The views of the city from the cable car were really fantastic. You could see from the water to the mountains.
We didn't go into the Castell but walked around the grounds, admiring the views of the city and the port.
Tapas 24 was one of our other favorite restaurants. It's is the least formal restaurant of popular Barcelona chef Carles Abellan. The line was to the end of the block when we walked up. Inside is tiny and was packed - we were lucky to get a table outside on the sidewalk - lots of space, beautiful evening and great people watching.
Please excuse the blurry photo below, but I had to include this one. So, with the tapas style, we ordered several different things - the bikini is wonderful. It's a ham and cheese sandwich with black truffle oil. Yes please. Also their tomato bread was delicious - everything was! These were the best. We saw 'ribs' on the menu, and all 3 of us jumped to them...mom was very hesitant. A plate with a huge mound of these came out...they were delicious! Mom wouldn't try them, and claimed they were rabbit. Not believing her, we asked the waitress....
And yes, they were rabbit ribs. She almost lost it while M, dad and I finished them off - yum!
If you visit the Gas-tron-o-my and Gourmet Traveller blogs, there are some great photos of the food.
We took a day trip on Thursday out to the Montserrat Benedictine Abbey. It's about an hour northwest of Barcelona by train. There are 2 ways to get to the top - the cable car, below, or the little train. Mom and dad took the train while M and I took the cable car. Straight up.
It's a beautiful place. We tried to get there in time to see the boys choir, but it was like sardines crammed into the sanctuary - we could kinda hear and see them, but from very far away. It was really beautiful, from where we were. The sing every day at 1pm for about 10 minutes.
We also saw the black Virgin, which is one of the main sights at Montserrat. There's a long line that runs along the side of the sanctuary from back to the front where the Virgin sits over the alter. Legend has it that the abbey was built around the statue because the monks weren't able to move it.
We had a fantastic time in Barcelona. It was a beautiful city with so much fantastic food and lovely people.
Friday morning we got up and packed our things, hugged my parents goodbye and took a train to Montpellier, France for a week together in Provence!