O and I have been gone for a few days to Barcelona, the trip being my birthday present from O. It wasn't our first time there, we first went in Sept/Oct 2002
, but I think this was our first time back to a place we'd been to before, not counting Portland. We loved it so much the first time, coming back with grand ideas of moving there someday, that it made sense for O to choose a trip back for a birthday present. We had a great time, though all too short, and a bit exhausting. The first day was exhausting because our flight was at 6:20 in the morning. That's when the flight left
. We were up at 3:30 and we were only able to be up that late because we'd already checked in online. I didn't sleep on the plane like I'd hoped, so when we got to Barcelona, no amount of taking it easy or napping was enough to really recharge my batteries. Damn, did I sleep well that night though.
Since we'd been to the city before, and since we were there only a few days, we focused on seeing a few things we didn't see before, along with a couple of old favourites. The old favourites were the Sagrada Familia
and Park Guell, as well as bumming around La Rambla and the waterfront. The new things were hanging out at Barceloneta, the city's main beach; popping into the sensory overload that is the Mercat de la Boqueria
; wandering around more of Montjuic, including visiting the stadium from the 1992 Olympic games; and going to the city zoo that is part of the Parc de la Ciutadella (we visited the park last time).
The weather was overall gorgeous. A bit breezy and chillier on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were lovely and warm and sunny. We always ate outdoors and came back with some slightly toasted arms and noses, but it was worth it. We didn't drink as much sangria as planned, but it was hard to get it in smaller amounts, and O and I just weren't feeling strong enough to tackle a liter between the two of us. I wanted to try chocolate con churros, but I couldn't find it when I wanted it. I also missed having paella again. But I did have many a tortilla espanola like I did last time, they are just so simple and yummy.
We did much better on the restaurant front this time, finding two really good places for dinner. Because that is one thing I found hard about Barcelona, that a proper restaurant is hard to find, one that serves good, diverse food that isn't tapas and isn't too touristy. Ok, we did see a few Chinese and Indian places, but we weren't in the mood for that. So, two places I can highly recommend: The first we came across on the touristy, sort of stuck up Placa Reial, which is off of La Rambla. We decided to head to that area since it has a ton of restaurants, and we were making our way around the square checking out each restaurant, when I spotted a restaurant hidden off in one corner called Sidecar
. It was really quiet there, pretty much empty, but it had a hip vibe and served international dishes, many of which sounded yummy. We found out it's actually more of a club with a restaurant, which explains the hip look. I had a tasty vegetable couscous and O had some delicious-looking Indian chicken. The waitresses were really nice, even though they always hovered just inside the front door which was a bit off putting. A poster announced that there was an indie rock night Fridays and Saturdays, which I would have loved to have gone to, but with a starting time of 12:30, I don't think we would have managed to be awake enough to go. We're such old farts.
The second place is a restaurant above the Centre d'Art Santa Monica, on La Rambla not far from the waterfront. It had a funky sloped outdoor seating area and a varied menu with simple but delicious food.
An interesting thing we came across on Montjuic was an area where clubs for radio-controlled cars and airplanes meet. In the model car area, some guys were racing a couple of cars around a dirt track complete with bumps to jump and lots of twists and turns. In the airplane area, we watched a guy spin a sort of plane around on a rope, speeding up more and more, like a hammer thrower in track and field. The sound coming from the plane thing was incredible, getting louder and higher in pitch til it sounded like one big scream. Kinda freaky. Oh and there were some guys in a prep area playing with a device (engine?) that threw out huge flames. Cool.
I guess it seems a bit weird to go to a zoo on holiday, but it's a trend we are continuing that we started in Budapest
. It's interesting to go to a zoo in other countries and it's fun to see the animals. I think I had more fun at the Budapest zoo though, but I think that might have had to do with the fact that we were there on a weekday so the amount of people and kids was less, and the kids that were there were, on average, older. We went to the Barcelona zoo on a Sunday and there was many a loud, screaming, whiny young child, and after a few hours (well, maybe a few minutes, actually), it was really getting old. I know. Kids and zoos kinda go together. But still. Plus I was getting physically tired of walking so much, and the zoo was kind of old and had some depressingly small areas for the animals. The highlight by far though was the dolphins, which I don't think I'd seen in a zoo before. We watched them do the usual jump-and-trick show, but we watched it through the underwater windows since the line to sit in the stands was endless and we weren't about to stand in line for ages when we'd just been in a line for half an hour to get into the zoo. And it was probably more exciting seeing it from underwater. You could just see the energy they had and the ease with which they did everything. It was kind of like standing backstage.
So yeah... It was a fun little trip. There was one major downside, and that was that O forgot his camera. Major doh. He didn't realize it until we were already on the train to the airport, so it was way too late to do anything about it. He was quite heartbroken. I fortunately took my SLR film camera, which I haven't been taking on holiday with me lately, mostly because I leave the photo taking to O. I basically only took it because I found I'd stuck a roll of film in there the last time I used it and figured I may as well take some holiday photos. So we do have some photos, which will be put up somewhere, sometime, but first I have to develop them and scan them... Yikes, all that old-fashioned shit.