Thursday, August 13, 2015

Barcelona Day 2

We had so much fun doing the bike tour of Berlin, that Tuesday we decided to do the same thing in Barcelona. We booked a tour with the same company, Fat Tire Tours, and they even gave us a discount for taking another tour with them. 

We started out the morning by arriving in Las Ramblas and walking through the Gothic Quarter in order to meet up with the tour group. Las Ramblas is a pretty, tree-lined street that is popular with tourist (and pick pockets....) and very unpopular with Rick Steves. 



The Gothic Quarter was amazingly beautiful. It's basically the old city of Barcelona dating all the way back to when the Romans occupied the area. Most of the buildings today, however, date to medieval times. Walking through the Gothic Quarter was one of my favorite things about the whole trip! 


The streets were super narrow and buildings close together. 



Poor Miguel's cold was in high gear at this point in our trip and he finally decided it might be a good idea to take some medicine. So we found a pharmacy and purchased some medicine. We found it fascinating that the liquid medicine came in little single serve, paper "packs".  

Also, Miguel bought some pretty awesome sunglasses because his nice pair was stolen our first day in Spain. 

The bike tour shop and meeting point is on a little street off the Plaça Sant Jaume, where the City Hall is. 

Plaça Sant Jaume


Each of our bikes were labeled, mine was "Patti Labelle"

Our tour guide, Paula, grew up in Patagonia, but spent a lot of her life visiting her grandmother in Barcelona. She was very informative and put a humorous spin on everything. 


In total we biked 8.72 miles and saw a lot of monuments and parts of the city.... including...

Thanks to Miguel's Garmin, this was our route. 

The Palau de la Música Catalana





Catedral de Barcelona




Arc de Triomf Barcelona
Built for the 1888 World Fair



Parc de la Ciutadella 
Used to be the city's only green space




Next, we headed up to the Sagrada Familia... this was the toughest part of the bike and the toughest part out of each tour. It was slightly uphill and the longest stretch without a break. 





Sagrada Familia




"El Peix"
Frank Gehry's Golden Fish Sculpture
Built for the 1992 Olympics


We biked to the beach and grabbed a bite to eat as a group at a Wrap place. 



Miguel was pretty happy because they had a beer called "San Miguel" =)


We grabbed our wraps and walked down to eat them on the beach.





After we finished our wraps we walked down to the water to put our hands and feet in the Mediterranean for the very first time! While walking to the sea we discovered that tops were optional... so that was interesting. (also, it was pretty interesting to see who decided to go topless... they were not the people you would think would be particularly confident showing off their 'goodies')


We had one more stop we biked to before returning to the original meeting point. The tour took about 4 hours so when we finished we still had a bit of the afternoon to explore on our own. We decided to head back to some of the sights we saw earlier in the day. 

Standing on the steps where Ferdinand and Isabella met Christopher Columbus on his return from the New World.


The streets of Barcelona reminded me a bit of Italy... mopeds everywhere. 




The Catalans actually have a very bad taste for the Spanish people and government  (they've been taxed 10% more than the rest of the Spain since the time of Ferdinand) and consider themselves separate from the rest of the country. All throughout Barcelona people hung the Catalan flag to show their support in separation from the Spanish state.


I call Miguel "BB"... he was thrilled to pose for this photo ;) 

After exploring for a bit, we decided to grab a bit to eat. We found this restaurant that we knew nothing about and sat down for some tapas.


The food is all out on a counter and you pick up whatever you like, buffet style. In the end, you pay for the number of skewers you have on your plate. 




After our snack we walked back towards the Gothic Quarter and made a few stops along the way. We stopped in the Basílica Santa Maria del Mar. The basílica was basically built by the Catalan people, so while very impressive, it's pretty bare. They all pitched in to raise money for the building and actually provided the physical labor too. 




After, we headed back to the Cathedral de Barcelona. We had to wait in line for a bit for it to turn 5 o'clock when admission is free. Luckiy, however, we were serenaded by some local talent while we waited (see video below)

video

They were really strict about women having to be covered to enter. We saw many girls get turned away at the door for bare shoulders and short skirts/shorts. Luckily, I had read ahead about this and wore a long enough dress and had a jacket covering my shoulders. Some smart locals/gypsy types were smartly selling wraps in the courtyard. 








Oh you know, just caskets hanging on the wall...



The Cathedral was beautiful, but the best part was definitely the street performers at the exit. Must have had pretty good acoustics, because both times we passed by that spot they were occupied with talented performers.

video


video

We had been pretty "go, go, go" all day and were pretty beat between that and my 1st trimester sleepiness and Miguel's cold. Our Fat Tire tour guide, Paula, had recommended a spot for dinner and even though it was only around 6 PM (early for dinner there) we decided to make our way there to eat. On our way we accidentally stumbled upon the Plaça Reia, a touristy square near Las Ramblas. Rick Steves placed it low on his priority list so we hadn't planned on stopping there, but it was a nice little treat. We sat down on the fountain for a bit and just people watched. 



Eventually we made it to dinner at Bar Canete. We sat at the "bar" which stretched almost the entire length of the restaurant. I loved it because we were able to watch the food preparation and loved watched the dynamic between the chef, the sous, and the rest of the staff. They were busy busy and took their jobs seriously. 




We ordered a variety items and everything was super, super tasty! 

My Catalan Sparkling Water

Miguel ordered some oysters





We had such a fun day in Barcelona, but were excited to get some rest with the hopes that Miguel would wake up the next day feeling a bit better!

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