We arrived in Barcelona in the afternoon and checked into our Airbnb apartment in a great location. We were a ten minute walk to the beach, la barceloneta, and in the middle of a ton of small restaurants and cafes.
We found a small restaurant nearby with a patio for lunch. A lot of restaurants in Europe of "a menu" as your order. So basically you get some sort of first course, a second course, and some places offer either dessert or a drink as your third menu item. The place we went for lunch had a menu with some amazing options for only €10. I ordered a Mediterranean salad, beef carpaccio, and vanilla ice cream. I was shocked at how much food I got for €10! The beef carpaccio had Parmesan sprinkles, arugula, and a balsamic reduction on it and was the most amazing meal I've had on the trip so far!!
After lunch, we walked to the beach and bought a mojito and beer to sip as we walked around in the heat.
We made our way back to the apartment and took a little siesta before heading out for dinner.
For dinner we tried a small tapas restaurant on the beach. They messed up our order a few times and the food and service were awful. While we were sitting there, a huge crowd of rollerbladers passed us, many of them dressed up or with light up wheels and many playing music.
We ended the night looking for seashells on the beach and watching the moon come up on the horizon. The pictures don't do it justice, but the moon was bright red and huge.
We started day two by visiting Sagrada Familia. I've been so impressed by all the architecture everywhere.
Next we went to the FCB football (soccer) stadium. We got student pricing with our International Student ID Cards, which have really come in handy! We've gotten discounts of almost 50% at many museums and attractions! The stadium was much cooler than I expected. I don't know much about soccer and I didn't know much about FCB but learned a lot of the history of the club and all the miscellaneous trophies and awards! I was glad Luke convinced me to go this!
Afterwards, we went to a market called La Boqueria in an area called Las Ramblas. The street was full of vendors while the market was indoors and full of food - similar to Mercado San Miguel in Madrid. We got a few little snacks there including fresh squeezed kiwi and orange juice and fresh strawberries drizzled in chocolate. It was late in the afternoon and the market was beginning to shut down. Because of this, many vendors were trying to sell their pre-made food and fruit for a discount so we got two sticks of strawberries for €1!
We continued around through the city and everyone was dressed in their FCB gear for their game that night. They played an Italian team, Juventus, for the Champion's League Final. Luke really wanted a Messi jersey, but not enough to pay the €100+ for it at the FCB Store. I really liked the game day scarves and know I wouldn't wear a jersey again. Luke ended up finding a jersey from a vendor for €35, not a real licensed jersey but good enough. I found myself a scarf and got the price down to €10 and we were off to watch the game. My roommate Nina had studied abroad in Barcelona last year and recommended several restaurants and bars. She told us a bar to go to to watch the game but ended up at a restaurant near our apartment instead. All the bars and restaurants were filling up fast so we figured we should grab a table wherever we could as soon as possible.
We went to a little place called La Hacienda where they had pulled down a screen and turned a projector on so that everyone could watch the game. People even lined up outside the restaurant trying to look in to watch. I got beef fajitas that were delicious! We also went through two pitchers of sangria during the game. Barcelona won the game and you could hear everyone in all the bars and restaurants on the street go crazy.
We had originally planned to go to the Fountain of Montjuic this night to watch the water and light show that happened every night from 9-11pm. We got side tracked with the game so didn't make it to the fountain.
We decided we wanted to check out the Barcelona night life so went to a place Nina recommended called Opium on the beach. Nina told us about a promoter for study abroad students and told us to say we were on his list at the club. We did and were able to get in free and didn't wait in line at all! Everyone else in the general line had to wait and pay a cover charge. Not having to pay a cover charge was helpful because once we got inside, drinks were €13 each! The drinks were VERY strong so I guess it was worth the €13!
After a walk home that felt 10x longer than the walk to the club, we made it back to the apartment and went to sleep - happy to be able to sleep in the next morning.
We slept in this day which was really nice. We had bought tickets for Park Güell the day before and had a reserved time of 12:30 to get into the paid part of the park. Park Güell is a large public park with a smaller paid portion of the park that is one of Gaudi's major works of art in Barcelona.
We underestimated the amount of time to get to the park and also didn't realize it was at the top of a huge hill. We missed our time slot to enter and they only allow a certain amount of people in at a time. Luckily, we were able to exchange our tickets for a later time so we didn't have to buy all new tickets. Since we had some time to spare, we walked around the whole public area of the park.
We walked to the top of the hill and took some scary steps up a big rock with a cross and the greatest views of the city. We could see the entire city and the beach.
We also found some really cool bridges and underpasses as well. Under one of the bridges a quartet was playing amazing covers of popular songs. They picked a great location to play because of the way the music echoed off the tunnel they were in. We sat and watched them play for at least 30-45 minutes. They had CDs out for sale and people were buying them as fast as the guys could put them out! I considered buying one because I was so impressed by them. They were a group called Los Sobrino and the album they were selling was called Looping. I still have to look them up and see if they have anything on iTunes! I have a few videos that I wanted to embed here, but I'm not able to on the phone app. I'll have to embed them when I get home and have computer access.
Finally, it was our time to go into the park.
After we made our way home from the park we decided to get a little beach time in. The sun wasn't directly overhead anymore so the beach had cleared out a little and it wasn't so uncomfortably hot. The water was freezing cold! We laid on the beach for an hour or two and got a mojito before packing up for dinner.
Prior to the trip, we printed every ticket and boarding pass that we needed. Or so we thought. We figured we could use our RyanAir app and mobile boarding passes for all our RyanAir flights, but that wasn't the case. The app has been useful for checking in, but every flight we've had has said we can't use the mobile boarding pass. We've had to find a place to print a day or two before our flights which, for the most part, hasn't been a problem. To check in at the airport instead of online is a €45 charge and to print out boarding passes at the airport is a €15 per ticket charge. So far, we made sure to avoid these fees. It was a Sunday night in Barcelona and hardly anything was open. Not even the "24 hour" convenience stores. After some frustration and searching, we accepted that we would just have to pay the fee to print out boarding passes at the airport in the morning.
For dinner, we decided to go back to the place we had lunch the first day. I got the "menu" again. This time a Caesar salad instead of Greek, and the beef carpaccio again. My salad came with this cheese that sounded nice in Spanish but translated to "cheese foam" in English. It was literally foam that was cheesy, like whipped cheese almost. Whatever it was, it was great. Of course the beef carpaccio was absolutely amazing again. Hands down, Spain wins best food of the trip so far.
We did our laundry this night, for only the second time of the trip. We had to go buy some detergent and we've realized that hardly anyone in Europe has a dryer. I air dry a lot of my clothes anyway so it hasn't been a problem but it is weird to use an air dried cotton towel that's all stiff and doesn't really feel fresh and clean. I do miss my bathtub and being able to stick my towel in the drier so it's warm when I'm done in the tub!
We got up and took our clothes of the clothes line to pack them. Except they weren't all dry... Luke had to go to the airport in wet jeans!
We jumped on the bus to the airport and we were off to Rome!