Barcelona Day 1
The first day we were able to check into our hotel room early and already get settled in. Then we headed out to explore the historic district. We visited the Barcelona Cathedral, marveled in the Gothic architecture, and even took in some Catalan dancing circles in the plaza in front of the Cathedral at noon.
For lunch we tried some local fast food from Pan and Company. Little did we know that residents of Barcelona actually speak Catalan as their first language, and not Spanish, so we had a bit of difficulty translating the menu. Dustin ended up with a steak sandwich, and I had a ham sandwich, complete with a little side salad. European fast food is so much more healthy than American fast food!
We met up with a Discover Walks group in the afternoon, which led us on an informative tour around the historic district. We learned about some crazy tidbits in Barcelona's history, such as them knocking down the city walls in the middle of the 19th century because of the terrible disease from living in such close quarters, and building Las Ramblas as a shopping boulevard linking the historic district all the way to the ocean. We saw some beautiful mosaic tile stories which could be found all over Petroxil street near our hotel.
That evening Dustin really wanted to watch the Italy vs. England soccer game, so we stopped into perhaps the last restaurant with a spot in front of the TV. We tried our first tastes of some standard Spanish tapas: Pan amb tomato (crusty bread with a thin tomato sauce on top), Calamari (yum), and then some American-style barbecue chicken wings because Dustin was seriously missing his favorite American bar foods after six months of deprivation.
On the way back from our dinner, we decided to check out a small little Hostel bar called the Hostel Paris. It was only about a 6-minute walk from our hotel, and ended up being our late-night spot every night while in Barcelona. We loved trying tapas, sipping on sangria, and watching European MTV late at night.
Later that night we tried to eat dinner at a popular restaurant, La Cerveceria Catalana. The place was absolutely packed, and we couldn't even find standing room in the bar. After waiting out about fifteen minutes of the ninety minute wait, we decided to try our luck elsewhere. We wandered down a couple side streets until we found a little wine bar. We tried patatas bravas (homestyle fried potatoes topped with a spicy sauce and creamy sauce) and then had dinner and a rich chocolate mousse for dessert.
After doing some walking around the city, we made our way to a wonderful tapas spot. Quimet & Quimet was a standing room only little spot. They had a few barstools and the spot could only fit a max of fifteen diners standing. We decided to be daring and let the server just pick three popular tapas for us. We were served some fancy mini open-face sandwiches. One was yogurt with honey and smoked salmon (my favorite), another had roasted red pepper, olive, and anchovies (Dustin liked), and the last one was pate with balsamic and onions. Mmmm, they were so tasty and definitely a step outside of our comfort zone.
Barcelona really went down as our favorite city of the trip, and I would love to see more of Spain if we ever get back over there again! The last portion of our trip was Italy, which I hope to post soon.