The good news is that I did not have an ounce of jet lag!
Staying awake for 24 hours and then going to bed at 7:30 PM once arriving home from the airport was the key. I was still tired the next day, the day our company arrived, but I again went to bed early, by 9:00 and have slept well ever since. That is the first time I’ve ever returned from Europe and beaten it!
We had a wonderful time with Dave’s brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Beth.
We checked out Cubs Park in Mesa which replaced the old Hohokam Stadium and is now of the home of the Chicago Cubs for spring training.
We visited the Desert Botanical Gardens for the Chihuly in the Garden event.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a must.
It runs through May 18, 2014.
March 28, 2014 No Comments
Friday of last week was our last day in Barca. Peggy and I spent it shopping for gifts for friends and family and just relaxing as we walked the pretty cobblestone streets.
We stopped for wine or sangria each and every time either of us needed to use the WC, which was often since we were drinking so much wine and sangria!
For dinner we finally had the “tapa toothpick” experience we had heard so much about.
This is a tapas bar where you choose your tapas from a counter…
…and then are charged by the amount of toothpicks left on your plate at the end of your meal.
We returned to the apartment earlier than we had any night other night since the first day we arrived. That first night, we were in bed by 7:30 PM. This last night we packed and were in bed by 10:00 PM. A far cry from the 1:00 AM or later nights we’d been doing for the last 10 days.
Instead of the bus/metro/airport excursion of that first day, we took a cab. Even at $25 euro each, it was totally worth it to not heave heavy suitcases up and down the metro stairs over and over again!
March 27, 2014 1 Comment
Thursday of last week was Lorraine and Natalie’s last day with Peggy and me in Barcelona. Lorraine would be leaving on Friday morning to get back to Arizona so she could support her husband (Peggy’s brother) in a bike race he was participating in. And Natalie was leaving the next morning with her study-abroad group for a weekend trip to Madrid.
After a quick breakfast, we visited the Picasso Museum.
March 26, 2014 No Comments
Yesterday I told you about our Wednesday afternoon activities in Barcelona. I neglected to mention our nighttime fun.
When we returned from the abbey in the late afternoon we enjoyed Jamón ibérico, cheese, baguette, apples, grapes and wine in our apartment.
My husband, Dave, has a client, Cliff, who lived in Barcelona for several months earlier this year. Cliff, made many friends while living here and told one of his friends, Kevin, to be sure to entertain us and treat us well when we came to town.
We tried to contact Kevin a few times early in the week, but were unsuccessful, mostly due to our incompetence in using international calling codes, or so we thought. Turns out the real reason was due to the fact that Kevin’s iPhone was stolen and was being replaced during that same time frame. Anyhow, we finally connected, right at the same time that we were eating our “stay in for the night” impromptu dinner of ham, cheese and fruit. It was about 6:00 at the time and Kevin asked to meet us at 9:30 or 10:00 for drinks and dinner. Yes, that is the normal dinner hour in Spain!
We met up at IceBarcelona, a super awesome and cool (COLD!) ice bar on the beach. There’s a steep price to drink at the ice bar. Fifteen euro each allows you entrance into the ice bar plus a heavy jacket and gloves to use and one drink.
Everyone looks sexy in the same big coat!
March 25, 2014 2 Comments
On Wednesday we took a long train ride (90 minutes seems long anyhow) to Santa Maria de Montserrat Basilica and Abbey on the mountain of Montserrat.
Here is a shot of all our legs, tangled and spewed about on the train.
After the train ride, we boarded a cable car to the top of the mountain.
Honestly, I am too tired to write much, so please click on the link above to learn more about the Abbey and then please enjoy the photos I took.
After that, if you want to see what we did once we got back to Barca, read down further… it was super cool!
March 24, 2014 No Comments
Tuesday was our most laid back day of the trip this far. Natalie had classes all day, so we took the opportunity to go to the ocean-side town, Sitges.
Sitges is a town about 35 kilometres southwest of Barcelona, renowned worldwide for its Film Festival and Carnival. Located between the Garraf Massif and the sea, it is known for its beaches, nightspots, and historical sites.
But before we left, we HAD to go back to Brunch & Cake for breakfast! It was a need, more than just a want!
It was a 40 minute train ride from Barcelona. Before we saw our first beach, the first thing I noticed was all the beautiful signs made of tiles.
They were everywhere, both plastered directly into the walls or inserted in iron frames.
These are just a few of the many pictures I snapped of them all over town.
Basically what we did all day was walk the pretty shop-lined streets, gaze upon but not venture anywhere near the gorgeous water, eat tapas and drink wine.
At our first tapas and vino stop we had these amazing patatas bravas. I will most certainly be recreating them when I get home! With tummies satisfied, down to the ocean we went.
As we inhaled the fresh sea air and took in the beauty…
… we rounded the corner …
March 20, 2014 1 Comment
On Monday, we started the morning by meeting up with Natalie at one of her favorite restaurants, Brunch & Cake.
This may have been some of my favorite food thus far!
The four of began by splitting and order of Buffalo Ricotta and Blueberries on Toasted Brioche topped with Sweet Fruit & Nuts. It was SO Good!
Lorraine and I split Sweet Crunchy Waffles topped with Eggs Benedict. The hollandaise was somehow light and fluffy – whipped maybe?
Lorraine is allergic to nuts, so I asked for the topping of dried fruits and nuts on the side, and sprinkled them on my half. This is one recipe I am determined to recreate when I get home!
Oh, and the corner the restaurant sits on… very charming!
Next, we ventured to Casa Batlló which is a Guadí designed home topped with a fanciful dragon-like roof.
March 19, 2014 1 Comment
After a lovely weekend in Paris, we took the metro and then the RER back to Charles de Gaulle airport. On our initial RER trip into Paris, there were many stops and it took at least 30 to 40 minutes, so we allotted for at least that much time to get back to the airport. Turns out, the return ride was non-stop, so we arrived at the airport in more than enough time.
We decided that with all our extra time we would enjoy a nice leisurely lunch before we went through security. We were working out the bill, Peggy wanted to use her credit card, so Lorraine and I had just handed over our cash when Natalie asked, “What time is it? What time is our flight?” Realizing we were late… very late, we all panicked and told Peggy to just throw down some cash and RUN!
As Lorraine said in her daily email update to her family, “We moved faster than we have to date on this trip. We actually did an “OJ Simpson” through the airport to make our flight.”
You know, the good old vintage 1970′s OJ Simpson Hertz advertisements…
Point is, We Made It!
We arrived in Barca (“Bar-sa” which is the endearing name the locals call their city) dropped our bags at our apartment, changed into warm weather clothes and headed to Montjuic in search of a castle. Montjuic Castle is on a hill and is actually a mid-1600 military fortress which today houses a military museum.
March 18, 2014 1 Comment
But if you’d rather hear about our weekend in Paris… yes, Paris!!! … then keep reading.
On Friday at 5 AM our adventure began. We took the Barcelona metro, with a transfer, to the Placa Cataluña to catch the aerobus to the airport. It was less than 2 hours in the air to Paris Charles de Gaulle. From there, we got on the RER train and then onto the metro and finally to our hotel – just a couple of streets off the Champs-Elysees. The Helzear Hotel was within sight of the Arc de Triomphe.
After we checked into our modern Paris apartment and had a few minutes to refresh ourselves, I led the girls on a wild goose chase in search of Jardin de Tuileries. We got off track and wound up taking the loooong route.
We stopped at a corner café for lunch and then finally found the Jardin.
We then walked the full length of the park up to Musée du Louvre.
After spending a couple of hours seeing such works as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Michelangelo’s Captive, and The Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese, we’d about worn ourselves out.
We walked a few blocks and had dinner before heading back to our apartment to crash.
March 17, 2014 3 Comments
Thursday was our “church day.”
In the morning we toured La Sagrada Familia which is architect Antonio Gaudi’s most famous work. Gaudi began his life long project of the church at the age of 31 and continued to work on it for 43 years, until his accidental death in 1926.
The church is still under construction. There are currently four spires or towers. Once finished, there will be 18 towers. The hope is to complete the church in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Just as the sun rises in the east, representing birth and the joy of a new day, the east side of the church is the Nativity Façade. It is intricate, full of life and joy.
And as the sun sets in the west, the west side of the church is the Passion Façade. It is more stark in nature, as you might imagine since it tells the story of Jesus’ passion and death.
There are two elevators which take you partway up the towers for a great view of the city: the Passion Facade elevator and the Nativity Facade elevator.
We went up the Nativity Facade elevator and then took a very narrow and tight spiraling staircase all the way down.
One of the beautiful features on this side of the church is the Tree of Life. It is a cypress tree and represents everlasting life. The many doves in the tree represent the true believers who flock to Christ.
I loved listening to the audio program and learning about all the symbolism in the design of the church. And one of the most touching moments was when we were going out one of the doors, to listen to the next station of our audio program.
As we were walking out, a few of the construction workers who you see inside, outside, and all around the church, going about their work day were coming in the same door. One of the men made the sign of the cross as he crossed the threshold of the door. It really moved me to see how he was so conscious of where he was, not just “at work” but in a place of worship, a holy place. As a tourist, it is something that so many of us forget to keep in mind.
March 15, 2014 2 Comments