Salud from Barcelona!

After experiencing the permanent cloud cover that is in northern Europe even during the summer months, Barcelona was a welcomed delight! We were both in our element. Megan had her warm, sunny weather and dancing. And I was still in a country where I could understand and read most of the language despite not being able to speak Spanish very well anymore. We made it to our Airbnb near Citadel Park and proceeded to take off nearly all our layers from Dublin as there was no AC in the apartment. It was stifling hot. But our host did provide us with an amazing bottle of wine that we split before we did what we do best- make the most out of our time remaining in the day.

Pro tip: invest in zip off pants!

Day 1

Our schedule had already totally changed, as the Spanish love to eat late in the night. So, after our bottle of wine, we strolled around the street corridors near our apartment until restaurants started to open up and become lively. We snagged a tiny table at Bormuth Cafe to enjoy some tapas at 10:30 p.m. for an early dinner. Following our mini meals, we headed toward Barceloneta Beach to take in some of the nightlife. We ended our walk a little further north up the beach at the Opium Club and Pacha Club. It was close to 1:00 a.m. so we thought it was perfect timing to join the party. Each nightclub had a $20 cover, but with that came two free drink tickets. We especially enjoyed the Opium Club. It had a massive dance floor to jump around in, high energy music, and a little nicer patio out onto the beach compared to Pacha. We left through the beach exit around 4:00 a.m. to find that the lines to enter each club were still getting longer. The sun was almost up when we returned to our Airbnb and I thought to myself how crazy this world is.

Barceloneta Beach

Late night fun on the beach!

Barceloneta Beach

Late night fun on the beach!

Day 2

Some might have said we were moving a little slower the next day as we wandered about Barcelona, but we were just taking it all in. We made our way up to Park Güell and took in some of GaudÍ’s architecture work which looked like a neighborhood out of a children’s book. We ate some delicious fideuà (like paella except with noodles) and butifarra (pork sausage) before visiting the FC Barcelona Stadium, Camp Nou. There were no games going on, but it was still cool to see. We spent the rest of our afternoon at MontjuÏc, a hill with great views, which holds the Catalunya National Art Museum/Park along with some of the stadium grounds from the 1992 Olympic Games. Unfortunately, it all seemed pretty much forgotten and dreary. But then our evening was lit up by a fantastic buffet and flamenco show experience at Tablao Cordobes! They had a wonderful variety of food spread out for the buffet and then closed it for the second half of the experience- flamenco! Don’t worry- they still allowed you to order drinks during the show. The performance itself was quite intimate though. There was only room for maybe 30 people in the audience which made it special. And the dancing- wow- if you haven’t seen live flamenco before, you must check it out.

Park Güell

Filled with gingerbread houses!

A glimpse of Gaudí’s architecture.

Another one of Gaudí’s unique buildings.

Fideuà, a delicious pasta dish!

FC Barcelona Stadium, Camp Nou.

View from the Montjuïc hill.

The grounds of the 1992 Olympic Games.

The impressive buffet spread at Tablao Cordobes!

Our spot for the intimate show!

Flamenco dancing is truly impressive!

Park Güell

Filled with gingerbread houses!

A glimpse of Gaudí’s architecture.

Another one of Gaudí’s unique buildings.

Fideuà, a delicious pasta dish!

FC Barcelona Stadium, Camp Nou.

View from the Montjuïc hill.

The grounds of the 1992 Olympic Games.

The impressive buffet spread at Tablao Cordobes!

Our spot for the intimate show!

Flamenco dancing is truly impressive!

Day 3

Quite possibly my favorite day in Barcelona was spent a bit outside of the city. We had found this ArtCava experience online in the Penedès region, a wine, and cava (Spanish sparkling wine) growing region just southeast of Barcelona. Basically, this winery would pick us up from the train station nearest their property and explore the world of cava with us. There were really no other instructions given to us other than be at the pickup spot by 10:00 a.m. So, we hopped on a train early in the morning to get there in time. What our tour guides failed to tell us was that the train station where we got off was not really a station. We took an empty platform down the stairs and no one else was anywhere to be seen. There was one information building at the stop that was closed, and it didn’t look like anyone had been in there for years. All that surrounded us was dirt and rows of grapevines.

Do not be alarmed when you land at this train station.

10:00 a.m. came and went. We started to get a little worried as we had no telecommunication abilities out in the middle of nowhere. Then at about 10:30 a.m. an unmarked white van came rolling up to this abandoned train stop and stopped right next to us. I pretty much thought this was the end. We were going to be abducted and forced into manual labor on their grape farm or worse. But then out popped a smiling face with some bottles of cava and he was not armed at all! After some brief conversation that made me feel okay with getting into this stranger’s van, he drove the three of us up to the tallest hill in the area so we could observe all the vineyards while he disclosed some history of the area. He then drove us to their boutique winery where we sat in their patio sampling 3-4 different types of the cava. Each description he provided was spot on and I salivated right when he said I would each time. He was a wizard who came to save us. He left us with 3-4 open bottles of cava and told us he would be back shortly to find out which one we liked the most. So obviously we had to drink the rest of the bottles to make our choices. When he returned, he led us into their bottling area where we got to bottle our very own favorite cava to take home! After a small tour of the rest of the facility they brought us to a local restaurant for a late lunch. And it was amazing. We even got to experience crema de orujo (grape brandy), a digestive liquor served after meals, poured straight into your mouth from a bottle that looks like a genie might pop out.

The Penedès region – a wine and cava region!

We found the source!

And made some friends to drink cava with!

Learned all about the cava making process.

And we got to bottle our own cava!

Including placing the label!

The Penedès region – a wine and cava region!

We found the source!

And made some friends to drink cava with!

Learned all about the cava making process.

And we got to bottle our own cava!

Including placing the label!

Taking the train even further into the Spanish countryside we made it to Montserrat, the mountain range in Catalunya that is home to the world-famous Benedictine monastery. You are able to buy a ticket to take the funicular all the way up to the religious retreat but be aware you must be wearing appropriate clothing. The views from the monastery area are beautiful and it makes one think how the heck did monks get all this built on a mountainside over 1000 years ago?!

Abbey of Montserrat.

We still don’t know how they built a monastery way up here 1000 years ago!

A beautiful church at the top of this mountain!

Abbey of Montserrat.

We still don’t know how they built a monastery way up here 1000 years ago!

A beautiful church at the top of this mountain!

Day 4

On our final day in Barcelona we went on our tour of La Sagrada Familia, the enormous and beautiful basilica in the heart of the city that is still not finished. On the inside and out, it is an extremely wonderful work of art. Your mouth will remain open in awe without you even knowing. Still pondering what we just saw, we made our way back to the beach we were on the first night to spend the afternoon relaxing. For dinner we had some paella and tapas and then visited a few bars. A couple fun ones included Espit Chupitos (where they made extravagant shots such as the Big Papa and B-52) and a Dow Jones Bar (where drink prices are influenced by the bar’s stock market). To end our time in Barcelona, we sat on the tiny balcony of our Airbnb and polished off our personal cava bottles.

La Sagrada Familia

A beautiful basilica that has been under construction since 1882.

Can’t avoid the beach in Barcelona!

Seafood paella with sangria of course!

Empanadas with more sangria!

Espit Chupitos – a fun shot bar!

Dow Jones Bar – a stock market for drinks!

Finishing off our cava on the balcony!

La Sagrada Familia

A beautiful basilica that has been under construction since 1882.

Can’t avoid the beach in Barcelona!

Seafood paella with sangria of course!

Empanadas with more sangria!

Espit Chupitos – a fun shot bar!

Dow Jones Bar – a stock market for drinks!

Finishing off our cava on the balcony!

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