Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 9: Return to Barcelona

We disembarked from the ship on a Saturday, when Barcelona's taxi fleet is restricted to 50% strength by regulation.  We had to wait over an hour for a taxi as a result.  My recommendation should you decide to cruise: opt for the transfers off the boat as they were much more efficient at getting people out of port than regular taxis were.   We then transferred to our hotel for the remainder of our trip, the Novotel City Barcelona.   It was another great hotel, although the location was a bit off the beaten path in not the best direction.  It wasn't an unsafe neighborhood or anything, just more businessy than sightseeingy.  The cool part was that since it was on Barcelona's famed Avenue Diagonal, our suite was shaped like a triangle.  It was finished in the contemporary style so common in Barcelona, and so beloved by me, that all I wanted to do was go furniture shopping, which is not very practical when you are 4000 miles from home.

Our first order of business, was to visit Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's architectural masterpiece.  AKA where Mickey Mouse lives.  One day, Declan will go to the real Disneyworld and I am going to be in so much trouble.  You mean Sleeping Beauty's castle doesn't have a 3 hour stained-glass audio tour?  No 2 hour symbology lecture on-site? Hee.  That said, I loved loved loved Sagrada Familias. As a spiritual house of worship, as a designy architectural funhouse, everything.  It is truly beautiful.  I also perversely like the fact that it is continuously under construction.  It is targeted to be finished sometime around 2025, but I don't believe it will be ever completed.

 Declan still makes the Leaning Tower of Pisa hands whenever I say cheese. Scarred for life I tell you.

The front door

the Front floor

We spent the better part of a day here, and enjoyed the audio tour immensely.  It's a do-not-miss if you ever go to Barcelona.  That evening we went for a stroll along the Ramblas, which is the touristy shopping/dining strip at the heart of Barcelona.  For dinner recommendations, we did our go-to travel trick, which is to stop by the concierge of whatever nice hotel happens to be in the vicinty and ask them.   This time we stopped in at the Mandarin Oriental.  Any hotel that is nice enough to have a concierge is going to be too nice to ask if you are actually staying there.  We got referred to Bar Lobo, a casual tapas place right across the street.  It was wonderful.  I can't say enough about the fantastic food in Barcelona.  Love that Catalan cooking. It was a real highlight of the trip for us.  As good as the food on board the cruise ship was, it really paled in comparison to every Barcelona restaurant we tried.   Really, tapas is my favourite style of dining, and Mediterranean is my favourite basic flavour profile so I was in heaven. Every meal was a treat.

Declan is about to embark on that special time in a young boy's life wherein he discovers a passion for charcuterie.  Where was the video camera? 

That night at the hotel, Declan emptied out his suitcase and climbed inside of it.  He may be ready to head home.  Still another day in Barcelona to go.

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