Friday, June 17, 2016

Barcelona | Day One

I don't even know where to start with this trip. Just organizing my pictures and editing the first few for this post has taken me days. Days. I first had to update my whole photo organizing system because I did not want to have to go through 4,000 pictures more than once. Because lets be real here, we took far too many pictures and many of them are the same picture over and over again. So I wanted to be able to delete a picture once and it would update across all my devices. Then I had issues with uploading my pictures and long story short it may take me forever to organize all these pictures so bear with me.

Anyway, back to the trip. Our first stop in Europe was Barcelona! We had planned two nights in Barcelona before we would get on our cruise ship. That gave us two and a half days to explore this great city. Since we did so much in Barcelona I have to break up the trip into what we did on each day because 180 pictures in one post is far too many.
Prior to our first day in Barcelona, we had a travel day that was basically two very long flights that had us land in Barcelona at 9 am, which to us felt like 2 in the morning. We were able to sleep some on the airplane, but it was not very high quality sleep and by the time morning rolled around we were both exhausted, but knew the best way to get over jet lag was to power through it.

I'm not going to sugar coat this at all and will admit that our first morning in Barcelona was rough. And that's the understatement of the century. We were able to find our hotel no problem thanks to our coordinated bus drop off, but once we got to the hotel it was too early to check in so we dropped off what bags we could, kept more than we wanted to carry and then started exploring. Our hotel was located in the perfect spot along a street called the Ramblas. There is a lot of shopping and activities going on along the Ramblas so we started there. We used Rick Steves' Barcelona pocket guide (he is an author that writes about how to explore Europe from an American point of view) and in that book he had a bunch of different "walks" where you would follow his instructions and he would point out things and history along the way. We followed his walk as best we could, but by this point we were both starving and when I get hungry I get super cranky. Plus, people in Barcelona eat much later in the day so we had trouble finding somewhere to eat. Add the fact that I am super picky made things more complicated. We had no idea where to even start to find a place to eat since we had no idea where we even were or what was nearby. We tried to find a specific restaurant that was in the guide book which then lead us to trying to navigate the streets that we did not know and we had the hardest time figuring out where we were on the map and locating the names of streets. After some fumbling, we realized the street names were on the sides of the buildings (duh) and then our issue was that Barcelona has so many tiny little streets everywhere that we could not tell what was a legitimate street and what was an alley. Can you tell it was rough? Once we found the restaurant we were looking for, they had nothing on the menu that I would even touch. Back to square one. We finally found this fun little market, La Boqueria Market,  that had a whole bunch of fresh fruit and different food items to buy. So we found something that looked edible and paid way too much for something that I ended up throwing away. But I ate enough to not be starving so we could search for more food to actually fill me up. I then found pasta which I ate, even if it was not my favorite, it was more edible than the weird burritos we threw away.
^^The market where we found food and the two of us looking oh so tired haha ^^
^^Richard of course had to get a selfie in front of the Lays truck. Weirdo.^^
After we finally felt full, we checked with the hotel and our room was still not ready, so we started on our walk down the Ramblas. We started at the Placa De Catalunya, which is the heart of Barcelona. This was a fun little square in the middle of some very busy intersections that had a whole bunch of pigeons, a lot of people, monuments and some fountains.
Then we started our way down the Ramblas again stopping to see a fun fountain that you can drink from, notice the wavy pattern of the brick since this street used to be a stream, the Chinese dragon that used to be an umbrella shop, and just admiring how beautiful every building was.
Once we got about halfway down the Ramblas, we were able to check into our hotel. Richard really wanted to change and shower before we continued our walk. I did not think I was feeling tired until we got into the room and I laid down to rest while Richard showered and I was out before I even knew it. We ended up taking a three hour nap before we forced ourselves to wake up and continue exploring. That nap felt so good though and helped us to be able to actually stay awake until a normal bedtime.
At the end of the Ramblas is the Columbus monument because Columbus came to Barcelona after discovering America. Just beyond the monument is the waterfront that looks extremely modern in this old city.
Once we got to the end of our Ramblas walk, we decided to walk towards the El Born area because we knew there was a restaurant in that area we wanted to try and we figured we could check out the area before dinner. We again ended up having a really hard time locating this restaurant. This day was definitely a learning experience. We at least had loaded a map on Richard's phone so we were able to see where we were on a map, but we could not actually search for anything since that required data. After looking around for this restaurant for over an hour, we finally found it only to discover that it was closed and would not open again until 8 pm (the locals usually eat dinner at about 9 pm). So we had almost two hours to kill, but we were already starting to get hungry again so we had to hunt down a snack to hold us over. Food is hard for me, ha. Since we were in the area, we looked at what there was to see and the only thing that interested us was the Picasso Museum, well interested Richard anyway. Our guide book told us that luckily the museum was open late on Thursday(score!), but that there was usually really long lines to get in so expect a wait. We decided to go see how long the wait was and if it was too long we would skip it. We ended up walking right in with zero wait at all so we really lucked out. Richard enjoyed this museum far more than I did, but I knew that would happen before we walked in. There were a few things that stuck out to me so it was still a fun experience.
Then once it was time, we headed over to the pizza restaurant that we wanted to try. This was the first food we ate in Barcelona that I can say I actually enjoyed. The food was good and it was weird that when you order a soda they serve you a can and a glass, but that was the norm pretty much every where we went so we got used to it. After dinner, we got some ice cream and Richard tried a new flavor, stracciatella, that was so so good that I got it and ended up eating quite a bit of it the rest of the trip. Then we went straight to bed and slept so well after a very busy day.
Well there you have it! Day one in Europe was an adjustment, but things went a lot smoother from that day forward. We also got used to the area, the time zone and the food quickly so things just kept getting better.

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