View from our hotel rooftop!
Today started early, as we woke up at 4am to watch the last game of the Thunder-Warriors series. Results were disappointing, so we grumbled up to the breakfast buffet, grabbed coffee and pastries, and then left the ship by 7:30 am. We were glad to be back on terra firma, even though we would still feel as if we were on a moving ship for a few days. We had serious sea legs and kept bumping into each other (more than usual).
H10 Montcada lobby
We took a cab to our hotel (there was no taxi line at all at the port, so don’t let the ship scare you into buying a transfer), and had them store our bags. I fell in love with the hotel at first sight. If you are in Barcelona, please stay at the H10 Montcada. The location is perfect, the décor is freaking gorgeous, and the rooftop bar is the ultimate topper.
We saw a Starbucks one block away, so headed there for my first chai latte in 14 days. We always try to patronize local places, but I also do like to buy those Starbucks city-specific mugs from places I visit, so we went to check them out.
Then we met Adam’s friend Julio, who came all the way from Geneva to see us. Do we have great friends, or what?! He is originally from Spain, so he would spend the morning with us walking around Barcelona.
I had been to Barcelona once before, and was super excited to show Adam the Sagrada Familia. I was explaining that it is so different from traditional gothic cathedrals, and he mentioned he had never been in one of those either. Neither of us is religious at all, but I told him churches are my absolute FAVORITE thing in Europe, if only for the grandiosity and the artwork. So we immediately had to visit a gothic cathedral so he would have a point of reference. We went to both the Santa Maria Del Mar and the Cathedral of Barcelona. I hadn’t been in either and gasped when I walked into both. Adam had the same reaction. It’s not often I see him walk around agape while taking it all in. Mission accomplished.
We walked through the Gothic Quarter over to the Ramblas and into the Escriba Patisserie. It is the Laduree of Barcelona, a “luxury bakery” full of artisan pastries.
Then it was off to La Boqueria Market. I am obsessed with the color and order of markets in Europe. We sat at a counter and had a cup of coffee while Adam and Julio caught up.
At the bottom of Ramblas, we found the Christopher Columbus monument and kept asking him silly USA questions like, "where is McDonald's?" "Where is the White House?" He was always correct....
We wound our way back though the Gothic Quarter to our hotel, stopping every 20 minutes or so at a different patisserie so that Julio could buy us something to taste. “Try these fresh churros!” “Try this ham and cheese croissant!” “Try this glazed flat dough pine nut encrusted thing!” He told us that is how the Spanish do it – dipping into different places as they walk, grabbing a drink and a small snack.
With enough sustenance to make it back, we checked into the hotel, put our bags in the room and went up to the roof. WOW. Who needs to climb the towers of the Sagrada Familia when your hotel offers a rooftop overlook of the entire city?!
Speaking of the Sagrada Familia, it was time to head there for our 2pm pre-purchased tickets. We walked all the way there, stopping to snack along the route. Good thing we bought them online in advance because the wait was four hours! We said goodbye to Julio, and went inside. This place never gets old. It is a true architectural masterpiece. Adam was silent the whole time. I thought something was wrong with him. But he was just in complete and total awe. He said it was THE most amazing interior of any building he had ever seen.
And the exterior isn't too shabby either!
We were exhausted, so we took a cab back to the hotel and rested for a bit. We got a recommendation for dinner in the Santa Caterina market --the city’s other big market. We sat at a table and tried to order some food, but we were told the kitchen doesn’t open until 8pm. It was 7:30. We said we would just have sangria. The owner told us we couldn’t occupy a table if we were just having drinks, so he picked up our stuff and moved us to the bar. I still don’t understand why we couldn’t sit at a table in an empty restaurant whose kitchen wasn’t yet open. But whatever.
We left to eat somewhere else and stumbled upon Lonja de Tapas, which was EXCELLENT. We had sangria, manchego with quince, salad with walnuts and parmesan, potato meatballs with garlic sauce, bread rubbed with tomato and olive oil and a few other amazing tapas.
We went back to the hotel to see the city at night from the rooftop. And then I could no longer resist – I took a bath. I am a bath person and after being on a cruise ship for 12 days, I nearly cried tears of joy when I saw a bathtub. According to my iphone heart app, we had walked 9.89 miles today. My legs needed that bath! It was heaven, just like the rest of Barcelona.
Tomorrow: all Gaudi, all the time.