Barcelona: “209 Reunion”

Well, I said I would make it back to Spain one day to drink the sangria, and I most certainly did!  It didn’t hurt that I also got to hang out with two of my college roomies KID FREE!  While visiting Normandy, France over Columbus Day weekend, my college roommate that met up with us mentioned that she and my other college roommate (who is stationed in Belgium at the moment) were planning on going to Barcelona the following weekend to wrap up her months of European travel.  I told her how much I loved Barcelona and wished I could go with them….well, my wonderful husband helped to make that a reality–he told me I should go with them since he had just recently been on a work trip to Scotland and left me at home with the kiddos for a week and half.  I had plenty of mama milk stored in the freezer for Marybel, and I figured it was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I said what the heck and splurged on last minute tickets to meet up with them.

{By the way, our house number in college was 418, and there were 6 of us that lived there, so since it would be half of us reuniting, I thought it would be funny to call it a 209 reunion instead of a 418 reunion.  Lame, yes…but don’t be a hater 😛 }

Anyway, I had to work Friday, so I caught a late flight out from London Stanstead to Barcelona El Prat, arriving around 11:50pm.

**Sidenote: flying (and traveling in general) without my babes was super weird–no stroller to push, baby to wear, backpack/diaper bag to carry and store my stuff…  I got to actually attempt to sleep and listen to music on the plane!  Also.  Going through airport security with an electric breast pump is sort of comical; they weren’t really sure what to think 😀

I had prebooked my Aerobus roundtrip tickets so that I wouldn’t have to worry about buying them once I got in super late.  The bus dropped me off at Plaça Catalunya, one of the main squares in Barcelona.  Since it was so late, I decided against taking the metro to the hotel, and (after wandering around looking for an ATM to no avail) got in a cab instead.  Luckily the hotel was close, and the €6 that I had in cash leftover from France was just enough to get me there!  My roommates had already booked the hotel by the time I *ahem:invited myself:ahem*, so they just asked to add a cot to the room for me.  It was beautiful and right in the middle of everything too, which was awesome!  I briefly said hi to my roommates and then we all crashed.

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Saturday I got to sleep in (for me, at least) before leisurely rolling out of bed and getting ready for the day.  We stopped at the bakery across the street from our hotel, El Fornet, for a pastry and some coffee before strolling down to our first stop of the day, Casa Batlló.  Case Batlló is one of Antoni Gaudí‘s masterpieces [I also referred to him when I visited his Sagrada Família and Park Güell, both also in Barcelona].   My roommates prebooked the tour, so we were able to skip the line and go right in and start our videoguide.  The videoguide tour was really cool, as it contained both an audio portion and a sort of virtual reality video portion that showed how the interior of the house would’ve looked with furniture.  The house was absolutely beautiful and captivating.  The curves, angles, tiles, colors; everything was just amazing!  I am so glad I got to see the interior and learn about the history too!

Our only other set item on the agenda for the day was the Picasso Museum, but we didn’t need to be there until 1pm, so we decided to hop on the metro and head toward the Gothic Quarter to wander around a bit and get a bite to eat.  The Barcelona metro was super easy and cheap to use-last time I was in Barcelona, we used the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus to get around since we were seeing most of the big sights in the city, but I would definitely recommend the metro as well!  We strolled along La Rambla, saw the Barcelona Cathedral, explored La Boqueria, and ate lunch at a little cafe along the way.  **Oh. We also had a midday SANGRIA….because why not?!  🙂  Remember, last time I was in Barcelona I was pregnant and missed out on the deliciousness.  So tasty!! **  Anyway, I just love the buzz of the city; the markets, the hum of the subway, the little streets and alleyways you can get lost in for hours, the towering apartment buildings with clothes hanging out to dry, everything is seems homey and friendly in Barcelona.

We had prebooked our tickets again for the Picasso Museum, so we skipped the line and went straight into the museum.  Being an art teacher, this museum was awesome to me.  The girls I was with were also art lovers, so it was nice to be able to take my time and not feel rushed because someone was bored or because I had kids with me.  I wish B and I could’ve gone together (without Benjamin) when we were there, he would’ve enjoyed it too!  It was fascinating to see Picasso’s transformation throughout his life.  The museum housed paintings from when he was FOURTEEN years old!!  And they were beyond amazing!  For anyone who sees his later works and says “Oh that’s art?! I could do that/my kid could do that/etc”, I want them to go here and see his talent at FOURTEEN!  The exhibits took us through different stages in his life, and related his art to where he was working and what was going on at the time, which was pretty interesting.  My favorite collections in the museum were his Las Meninas series, which was a study of Las Meninas by Velazquez, and  his Pigeons series, which he did while on a short break from his Meninas works.  I was also excited to see some of his sketches; I love seeing impromptu sketches and plans from artists.  The exhibit also included etchings and ceramics of his, which I had not seen before.

After our museum outing, we meandered our way through some of the neighborhoods back toward our hotel to shower and get freshened up for the night.  We decided to be super European and didn’t eat dinner until around 9pm.  I finally got my paella and more sangria at Güell Tapas.  It was delicious.  We tried to find some relatively low key bars, but most of what we found in Barcelona were clubs, and that was not our scene…  We ended up at Flaherty’s Irish Pub, because you can’t beat a delicious beer at an Irish pub, even in Spain, right?  Although we were out late for me (2:30am), the city was hopping and it seemed like some people were just starting their night!  There were people everywhere!!  Barcelona definitely has nightlife, but I just felt old!  😛

We slept in again Sunday, and picked up breakfast and coffee from the bakery again.  We all packed up and checked out around noon, but I left my bags at the hotel, as my flight didn’t leave until that evening and I wanted to be able to explore without my big backpack.  My roommates’ flights were at 3, so we all hopped on the metro toward Plaça Catalunya.  They got off there to catch the bus back to the airport, while I continued on toward the beach area.  I really wanted to see Parc de la Ciutadella, as my friend had taken pictures in front of a beautiful fountain there, and I hadn’t gone there last time we were there.  As I made my way there, I discovered that I actually had sort of been there, as it was on the same grounds as the Barcelona Zoo, which we had visited.  The fountain was pretty, but the park wasn’t anything super out of the ordinary.  It was nice and relaxing wandering through the green space though, without an agenda in mind.  I saw the Arc de Triomf, then started making my way back toward the metro to get back to the hotel and collect my bags.  I allowed myself to get lost in some of the neighborhoods again {thank goodness my phone works in other countries, otherwise I really would’ve gotten lost} and popped into a few shops.  I had a quick bite to eat before getting my bags from the hotel and heading back to Plaça Catalunya to catch the bus back to the airport.

Overall, it was a nice little getaway from “the real world”, even though I missed my hubby and babes dearly!  It was relaxing to not be on any sort of schedule or feel like I was missing things since I had seen much of the city before.  And, of course, it was awesome to get to spend time with some of my dearest friends from college, whom I hadn’t seen in forever!  I am sticking with my previous statement that Barcelona is still one of my favorite cities!

 

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