10/24/2018 - 10/24/2018
This is my first time traveling with a child. I had no clue what to expect.
The parents came with a stroller whose top is basically a car seat, so it was actually easy to get a taxi to their hotel. We got settled there- they popped up a portable bassinet, changed a diaper, and then packed the stroller with whatever they needed for the day.
On our way to food, we walked along the beach a bit. People were out playing, strolling, and just generally enjoying themselves.
Not a whole lot seemed to be open, and I couldn't tell if that was because it's off season or because it was too early/late. We did find a cafeteria with some sandwiches though. And right away I had one of the foods I had read about ahead of time- tomato-rubbed bread. That plus cheese makes a simple sandwich, and it's tasty, but I think I still prefer slices of tomato. The fresh juice was amazing though. I don't know what magic they did to make it so great since I saw them throw the fruit in their blender, but it was maybe the best juice I've ever had. Maybe their pineapples, grapes, or Mandarin oranges are from somewhere special? I don't know. I just know that it was next level fabulous.
I was full from lunch, but then we saw some kid on the street eating fries from a cone, and suddenly I had room for some cheese-smothered fries in a cone. The guy who made them seemed almost professional in the way he tossed the fries in their bowl and artistically poured the melty cheese over them
We were headed towards the cathedral, but got a bit turned around in Barceloneta, a small neighborhood right by the water. It was cute and quiet, and I hope to have more to say about it another day.
This temporary phone I'm using because my last died in Kenya sucks. It didn't adjust to the local time. But, that meant that we arrived at Jaume 1 early for the 2pm free tour instead of missing it. Early enough to grab some churros and chocolate at the cafe that faces the tour meeting point.
Then, we met our guide for the Sandeman's free walking tour- Macarena. She took us around town to see the various sights, gabbing a bit about herself, life in Barcelona, and the sights along the way. It was certainly a lively and funny presentation, but I could have done with a touch more history and "this happened here because...".
We did learn some of the history. The tour started in a courtyard where some lady was singing high-pitched church style music. The acoustics transformed her performance from just another singer in the street to something heavenly. The guide shared with us some of the ancient history of the city, and told us about the buildings in the square- the palaces and executioner's home, but didn't tell us about any interesting executions.
We moved around the Gothic quarter and into the hipster Born area a bit.
At the cathedral, we saw what it looked like before the facade was redone for the world's fair, and the contrast to after. Here, the street performer was playing Despacito and Vente Pa Ca. Maybe he and the church music lady need to change places.
We learned about the Saints venerated by the city- two women (one of whom the Romans tortured and martyred) and St. George- as well as a very hairy king who founded the bloodline succession of kings in the area by fighting off the Muslims so well. Apparently the flag of Catalunya also comes from him. His shield was golden colored. As he lay dying from a battle wound, he reached into it, got his fingers bloody, and dragged them across the shield, leaving 4 red streaks on it. Hence the Catalonian flag. The Barcelona flag combines this plus a cross of St. George (because he slayed the dragon haunting the area.) And the Catalonian independence flag contains the normal Catalonian flag, plus a blue triangle with a white star, like Puerto Rico and Cuba- others who got independence from modern Spain.
We also saw San Felipe Neri square, where a lot of movies I've never seen were filmed, but if you're in to that kind of stuff, it might be interesting.
The only stop where we saw some modernism was a lawyer's association building where Gaudi had redone the inside and a mailbox. (As it was a historical building, he couldn't do too much more.) Touching the mailbox is supposed to bring you luck or something, so of course I touched the rubbed down spot. But really, it was just a cool chance to touch Gaudi's work.
During one stop, one of the other tourists got pooped on by some pigeons. Here is where traveling with a whole stroller full of stuff comes in handy- we had baby wipes to help him out. Overall, the baby slept most of the tour, and was really well-behaved.
We walked back to the hotel to get rested up, but also because nothing was open for dinner yet. Restaurants shut down in the afternoon and don't reopen until around 7. Here is where I learned what baby schedule is like.
Apparently, the baby needed to sleep, but he couldn't be put in the stroller for that. So my friends tried putting him in the crib and holding him and a bunch of other strategies, but nothing really worked. So they put him in the stroller and we went to dinner anyway. I think he fell asleep on the short walk. He was quiet at least.
We picked Xiringuoto Escribida because it was on the tour guide's list of places recommended for paella. It is right by the beach though, so the view is amazing. We got to watch the moon rise over the water- incredible!
The prices reflect this view though, and aren't worth it. The prices also might be higher because the restaurant can't turn over tables quickly. When you order paella, they bring you a sand timer so that you don't have to constantly bug them about when your food will finally be ready. It takes a while. While we waited, we munched on olives. These were worth the excessive paella price. These were the best olives I've had in my life. Ever. I live in the Mediterranean, adore Wegmans' olive bar, and travel a lot. These were perfectly textured- not fibrous or too soft. These were sweet and salty and olive-y without being strong or bitter. These were so amazing that I asked where to buy them. The waiter said they were "Grandma's recipe" and that he didn't think you could get them in a store, only online. I will check because WOW.
The paella finally arrived. Of course, this is when the baby woke and started crying. So two of us ate while the third held the baby and then my friends switched places. They cook the paella in a huge pan and while it's big and presented nicely, flavor-wise, the paella was not impressive. It lacked salt and flavor and there wasn't even a salt shaker on the table.
When we finished, we said goodbye for the evening, still without a clear plan for the morning. I walked a few blocks to a taxi stand because I didn't have my public transportation card yet, didn't know exactly where the hostel was, had luggage, and was tired. It was a relatively short ride, but was almost 10 euro by the meter. On the one hand, it wasn't as bad as I feared, on the other, this is an expensive city. At least I got some interesting conversation from the cab driver.
The hostel, Barcelona & You is 2 blocks from Sagrada Familia. It's quite nice. Everything is clean, fresh, and simple. The beds are set up like little cubby rooms, each with a curtain for privacy/light blocking, a light, socket, and shelf. The main room has some couches and the kitchen. It's small and simple, but pretty ideal. I got checked in, settled, and slept well.