Day Seventy Seven (septuagesimo setimo dia)
We thought having slept so much the night before we would wake up at a reasonable hour, but alas, we woke up at noon. After groggily getting ready we stopped in at el Fornet, the “chocolate cafe” again for cappuccinos and breakfast.
I got a cream filled croissant and John had a frosted and nut covered “pretzel”. We headed off towards Passeig de Gracia (the Newbury Street of Barcelona) to shop. Not to shop just anywhere, but specifically NIKE Barcelona.
We strolled for a while without stopping at any shops; we were on a mission. It was about at 25 minute walk. The only things we did stop for were a few of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural wonders that, in addition to NIKE, are on Passieg de Gracia.
The weather was much like Povoacao tends to be: cloudy and sprinkling. Of course, at that time in Povoacao the sun was shining and the air was warm. We stumbled upon Nike in the early afternoon. The store was pretty small with an even smaller selection of women’s apparel. Also, everything was more expensive. A pair of shoes I almost bought on Nike.com clearance for $75 were 120€ (more than $150!). I didn’t buy anything.
Notice how everything is in English? Yeah, we had no trouble communicating in this tourist-driven city.
John found the cleats of his dreams: the new CTR360s. Merry Christmas, sweet baby Bavota.
We went across the street to Zara and I indulged. We also got some gifts for our friends in Povoacao.
Barcelona is GORGEOUS.
We stopped in a few more high-end stores and then headed back to the hotel. We stopped for lunch at a Pans & Company which is like Panera-meets-McDonalds (It’s delicious). We went back to our hotel to rest up and clean up for dinner. I did a hallway workout of jumping rope, burpees, black bands and planks. #30burpees30day Day 30 (FINALLY!): 30 burpees with double push-ups.
On the menu for the evening was the city’s best ($$) paella. I did some Yelp/TripAdvisor research on the best place to get some—and I found one whose reviews touted 3€ bottles of wine and the “best seafood paella” the writers had ever had. We dined early tonight in hopes of getting to bed early. We were switching hotels on Friday and check-out was at noon, so we couldn’t sleep quite as late.
There was only one other couple in the restaurant (Bosque Palmero on Carrer de Valencia if you ever get the chance to go to Barcelona… Go here!) and the bartender/waitor didn’t speak any English. We got a bottle of the house red, an order of asparagus with mayonnaise (yes), and the seafood paella. The red wine came in an un-labelled bottle, and it was cold—and delicious. The asparagus was the fat, white kind and I didn’t use any of the glop of Hellman’s sitting oddly on the plate. It was also served with lettuce, tomato, and some corn. I put some oil & vineger on it—incredible. And oddly, also cold.
About thirty minutes after we ordered the seafood paella came out. It was everything the reviews said and more.
We practically licked the cast iron. After our bartender/waiter cleared the table the real waitstaff started showing up and setting tables (now 8:30pm and a typical dinner time). A waitress came over (who didn’t speak any English either) and asked us to move—a large party was coming in. We watched another waitress fill a pitcher for Sangria out of a spigot on the wall (like those that spout spring water in Povoacao) that produced the house red wine. When I pointed to it, our waitress rattled on in Spanish about it, but we caught the word “Magic”. It was a magic wall.
We moved and then ordered cappuccinos and two desserts (because why not?); a Catalan version of crème brulee, and an ice cream ball covered in that Tiramisu powder. After we licked those plates clean, she came back and asked if we wanted a “snap”, while miming something that looked like taking a shot. We said no, thank you. She seemed to ask whether we liked the desserts, which we assured her we did. She went to a clear liquor fridge and asked “Honey or strong?”, “Honey?” I replied. Sure enough, she poured of two shots of crema catalana as thanks for switching tables.
Day Seventy Eight (septuagesimo oitavo dia)
Miraculously, John woke up around 10:00am (I had set an alarm for 10:30am, just in case) and we got our stuff ready to switch hotels.
Originally, I had only booked the first hotel for only three nights because we were entertaining the idea of going to Madrid for a few days. When we decided not to do that, I found a four star hotel that I could get for four nights and pay for with my miles. So, Friday we moved. We went around the corner to our favorite little cafe that we’ve found, el Fornet, and then checked out of The Sunotel Aston Hotel. We decided to huff it the 13 blocks to our next hotel located on Aveniguda Paral·lel. It is on one of the busiest streets in the city, and a whole star nicer than the Aston. We were prepared to just leave our bags as we were three hours early for check-in, but they had a room ready for us. We got settled in and then headed out to walk through Parc Monjuic, another route on my walking map that would take us to the Montjuic Castell, the Olimpic Stadium, and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (which we saw from the top of the Arenas de Barcelona the other day, and looks like a palace). We walked up and up and up (is this Povoacao?!), slowly seeing more and more of the city.
It was cloudy when we began our ascent, but as we climbed higher, the sky became clearer. Along the way, John spotted a ropes course. We couldn’t go on without partaking. Make sure your volume is up if you decide to watch these.
After about two hours of hiking, we came upon the castell. Which is totally free and completely open to the public.
We continued walking (finally downhill!) and found the Olimpic Stadium which housed the 1992 Olympic Games. We thought it was closed to the public, so we took some pictures from outside the gates.
Then we found the public entrance. I’m the first one to make fun of selfies, but in front of the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona? #hatersgonnahate
We walked all around the Olympic stadium and saw the baseball field, the equestrian stables, and the museum (not free and we didn’t even try to go in). We made our way toward the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Again, we were way more interested with the waterfalls, stairs, and other potential pictures. There are escalators that take you up to the art museum, as well as other high points in the park, which seems extremely American. We took the stairs. From this view, you can see the Arenas de Barcelona where we were the other day, oval structure towards the upper right corner.
When we walked down the step of the art museum, toward the Arenas de Barcelona and we came into Placa Espanya. We made our way back to our hotel. We stopped at the cafe next to our hotel and had cappuccinos and shared a pineapple cake.
John wanted to have pizza for dinner, so I did some more Yelp/TripAdvisor research and found a nice little hole-in-the-wall 1.5km from our new hotel; La Bella Napoli. It didn’t open for dinner until 8:30pm and lots of reviewers wrote that there would be a wait. We got there at about 8:32pm and were the only people in the joint. The first thing you see is a wood fire pizza oven. Soon after we sat, our waiter brought over English menus. We ordered Peronis, bruchetta, and an eggplant and bacon pizza with mozzarella on only one half. The bruschetta arrived on the table in under 3 minutes, the pizza was out before we had finished our app. Everything was delicious. We had a few more beers (did I mention they had a TV playing Spanish league soccer? John was in heaven) before leaving our signatures on the wall.
We passed over Gran Via on the way to the restaurant, a large street filled with street vendors, and had vowed to go back and look for what I call “street treats”. We walked a few blocks down the busy street that was slowly shutting down before our eyes. I saw a few treats that I didn’t partake in.
I got my kicks from a chocolate-covered and creme filled churro. We kept walking and then stopped in our hotel bar for a few more beers. John had a little fun with the security camera whose footage constantly plays in the bar.