June 28, 2014
Not long after we arrived in Germany my middle son Brendan called to discuss coming to visit during the summertime with his two brothers, my oldest Arron, and my youngest son Devin. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion at the thought of all three of them actually being here with us at the same time as well as that they were all so committed to trying to make this happen. I was feeling pretty homesick for friends and family by then, but even more than the fact that I missed them and it would be great to have them here was that it would be the first time in many years that we would all spend more than a day or a few hours together, usually related to a holiday or special occasion of some kind.
I listened enthusiastically as he laid out their travel plans but really got excited when I heard him say Barcelona was on the itinerary. When I first knew that we would be moving across the pond I made a list of the places I most wanted to travel to in Europe and Barcelona was very high on that list, so I quickly let him know that there was no way they would be heading that way without me. I hadn’t been in Germany long, but already the thought of sunshine, flip flops, and sangria sounded like heaven to me. Okay, I don’t actually drink so no sangria for me, but I liked the sound of it anyway!
Barcelona baby! Am I a lucky girl or what?
So after three whirlwind days in London, my boys and I said goodbye to Lulu and Richard and off we went (Richard was “volunteered” to stay home and babysit the girl).
I remember sitting on the plane that morning and looking over at my three handsome guys and having to pinch myself that this was really happening. A trip like this was something I had envisioned and talked about for many years and now here it was. It was really happening.
Our Airbnb apartment was in a crazy busy (and loud!) part of town but conveniently located right across the street from the Familia Sagrada, one of the most famous and beautiful sites in Barcelona. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi in 1882 and although never completed, it was proclaimed a minor basilica in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. It is so huge that photographing it in its entirety in a meaningful way was beyond me but here is a glimpse of just how amazing it is.
For more photos and information on the Familia Sagrada click here:
My favorite areas of Barcelona by far were the El Born and the Barri Gotic, or gothic quarter. Both are full of charm and character with winding narrow streets where you can get lost for hours at a time and lead to quaint café covered squares, but the El Born is just far enough off the beaten track to maintain a bit more calm and quiet and allows you to feel a bit more like your walking amongst the locals rather than just other tourists.
The gothic quarter is the oldest part of the city and many of the buildings date back to medieval times and the Roman settlement of Barcelona at the end of the 1 st century BC. While wandering through this quarter on our 2 nd day we stumbled into the remains of an old castle built around 1400, and discovered that is now home to a small Flamenco performing group. We returned later that night and enjoyed an intimate performance of Flamenco dance and music that was so moving that it brought me to tears. My son Brendan made the comment that if he had the amount of passion that he witnessed that night for anything in his life he felt there would be nothing he couldn’t do or accomplish. So true!
And so what do you do in Barcelona after walking all day and then having an amazing experience like the one above? You go have the Garra Rufa, or “doctor fish” eat the dead skin off your feet. Or at least that’s what we did …. much to my oldest Arron’s chagrin.
I think both of these photos pretty much say it all!
In Barcelona the shops and restaurants close down between 2 and 5 pm pretty much across the board and dinner isn’t served in many restaurants until at least 9 pm. It also stays light until 10 pm or so and is very warm so the outdoor cafes are all filled with busy talkative folks where the tapas and wine flow late into the evening. It seems to me that unlike in America, in Barcelona they have truly mastered the art of taking the time to enjoy a good meal. I loved walking through the old quarter at night with my boys and drinking in the sights, smells, sounds and the exquisite experience of just being in such a magnificent city.
On our third day we decided to brave taking the city bus which really wasn’t a problem other than being a tad hot and bit over crowded (and pure luxury compared to a city bus in say, Bangkok) and headed up to the top of the city to see Park Guell (pronounced gway), a masterpiece also designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. Park Guell was under construction from 1900 to 1914 and was originally intended to be a residential housing project of 60 homes, but only 2 were built and the project was never completed. Apparently both of the world wars caused construction to be stopped and it was never resumed after the end WW II. Gaudi’s vision for the project was very much like a co-housing project of today but was also to include its own marketplace and public gathering area for dances, music and so forth.
The architecture at Park Guell is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and Gaudi truly let his imagination run wild here. Mosaics made from broken ceramic tiles, a Catalan practice called trencadis, was used throughout the park and is breathtakingly beautiful. The dragon fountain at the entrance was my favorite.
For more information about Gaudi and Park Guell click here: Antoni Gaudi and Park Guell
My last little tidbit to share is that I find it really interesting what a small world it is that we live in … you can travel half way around the world and then run into someone from your own community which you may not have even seen in years and that is just what happened to me on this trip. My friend Claire Victor from the CSL in Santa Rosa had been traveling in Europe with her partner Will and I had been following their whereabouts on Facebook. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered we would be in Barcelona at the same time for one day and we actually managed to meet up and share a few tapas and drinks. Here’s a photo of “the motorcycle mama’s” having a good time in Barcelona ….
Our trip was amazing in every way and over entirely too fast. We parted after 4 perfect days and the guys headed off to Rome and me home to Richard and the Lu.
We met up again a few days later in London so until then ….
XOXO, from me and lu