TRAVEL DIARY: BARCELONA

In case you haven’t noticed the gram blowing up with photos this past week, my family and I made a journey to Spain for our first family vacation in ten years. Granted our family has grown since our Disney World endeavours, so it was eight of us in total. This made manoeuvring difficult but sangria drinking and tapas eating lots and lots of fun. So without further delay here’s the ins and outs of my Spanish holiday:

Day 1:

May 1, 2018

After travelling for what seemed like approximately six million years we arrived in Barcelona, Spain. Ok yes I’m dramatic, actually it was more like two hours from Winnipeg to Montreal and then eight hours from Montreal to Barcelona. When we landed we were all cranky as heck because of the time change but we persevered and  basically functioned the entire day on 4 hours of plane snoozin’. We met up with our bus driver (clearly because there was 8 of us) (yes – there were ‘MOVE THAT BUS’ Tye Pennington references), and drove just over an hour to our rental house in San Pol de Mar. Queue the Amazing Race dash to secure the best rooms and unpack and put on SHORTS for the first time this season (very exciting stuff for a Winnipeger). We mainly relaxed by the pool once we arrived at the house at noon, and tried to keep each other awake until at least 8pm (I made it to 8:30 not to brag but like I was proud).

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Day 2: 

May 2, 2018 

On the second day of the trip we set out to explore our own town of San Pol de Mar, doing so by descending the massive hill that our house was on top of (I’m talking like a 75 degree angle here people, the pain in the calves was no joke). We dipped our feet in the Mediterranean Sea and then headed to the sea side bar for a bevvy. We then took the train two towns over to Arenys de Mar to check out some potential fishing arrangements for the boys (and while they did that we went shopping). It should be noted however that Siesta time is a REAL thing y’all, and if you’re used to operating on a North American schedule it can throw you a bit. With the exception of the very touristy areas most restaurants and shops are open 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then closed for three to four hours, and then reopen until about 8 or 9 p.m. It’s very bizarre and if you catch yourself hungry or bored within the Siesta time frame you’re basically screwed. My recommendation would be if you can’t beat em’, join em’. Wake up early and do whatever you need to do in terms of shops and eating, nap, and then make some night time plans. We ate Tapas in Arenys de Mar and then returned to our town for drinks and bed.

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Day 3: 

May 3, 2018

This day started off completely normal…and you know I’m leading with that because something completely not normal happened this day. After waking up the boys had decided the night previously that they wanted to go golfing, so a cab picked them and they were out of our hair. We decided to hit up Barcelona for the very first time, which was about an hour train ride from our little town. I’d very much recommend using the train system if you aren’t staying directly in Barcelona. It was very quick, clean and cheap. We walked down La Rambla and stopped for some massive sangrias at one of the median patios.

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We continued down to the Christopher Columbus monument and paid the 9 euro to go up to the top. The elevator was a teeny tiny tube (think the Grinch going up Mount Crumpit), but the observation deck at the top had an incredible view of the entire street and harbour. With our ticket we also got a massive glass of wine (which on La Rambla is 9 euro in itself) and so I would say this is definitely worth the experience if you have the opportunity.

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On our walk back down La Rambla we stopped to check out the Mercat, the Placa Reial and the Gothic District, all of which are incredible and definitely worth checking out. Specifically, in the Gothic District we stopped at La Manual Alpargatera to pick out some hand-made espadrilles and the store is a must see.

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We headed back to our little town to meet up with the boys at a local bar. Little did we know that during this time some no-good human(s) had decided to rob our rental house. Luckily they were only interested in cold hard cash and jewellery and so none of our electronics, passports, or other personal belongings were taken for the most part. The house was completely turned upside down and so were our stomachs knowing that someone had been in our stuff. Even the safe bolted to the wall had been pried off and somehow opened, so despite thinking when travelling that by locking up, and using a safe is good enough, I encourage you to use every precaution to protect yourself and your belongings. Barcelona is notorious for its pickpocketing , and so we never expected something like this to occur in our own sleepy little sea side town. We were pretty creative after this event with hiding our things, and had the house on lockdown like we were in a Purge movie.

Day 4: 

May 4, 2018

Needless to say the fourth day of this vacation was pretty much a wash given that we had been up until about 5 a.m. figuring everything out with the police. The morning was spent finishing police reports and filing insurance claims and so we flipped on the Netflix, got ourselves some Spanish McDonald’s (the driveway of which is called McAuto) and had a pool day. In the evening, us young folks opted to head back into Barcelona to show the boys La Rambla which we had explored the day before, and take in the fountain show at The Magic Fountain of Montjuic. The water and light show was incredibly cool and lasted about 15 minutes.

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Day 5: 

May 5, 2018 

Are you starting to get tired reading this? Because I was definitely starting to get tired living it. My 22 year old bones were shaking from all the walking. On the train ride home the previous day we spotted a market in El Masnou (another sea side town about half way between our town and Barcelona) and I am a sucker for a good market. By this point we had had enough of the walking and the boys rented two tiny cars for us to skirt around in. We drove them along the coast to El Masnou and browsed the market for a time. Afterwards we went to the boardwalk to look for a restaurant, and stumbled upon a impromptu fashion show (gotta love Spain amirite). The entire menu of the restaurant we ended up choosing was in Catalan, which despite popular belief is nothing like Spanish and so we didn’t understand a single word and ordered most things on instinct. It ended up being an incredible dinner and we made our way home, laughing the whole time that the restaurant was called Moll-oest.

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Day 6: 

May 6, 2018

On the sixth day of our trip we started the day with mimosas because it was my brothers girlfriends birthday but also why the heck not. We took the train into Barcelona to see the Arc de Triomf …no no not the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but the slightly smaller slightly more red version in Spain… I was also very confused. It was built as the entrance to the 1888 World Fair held in Barcelona and is honestly lit I would recommend. After that we walked to the Parc De La Ciutadella which was basically right behind it to get a nice view of the greenery and their golden fountain. A quick sangria and tapas stop and our last hit was the Aquarium to learn about all the seafood we had been eating all week. We decided to split up to divide and conquer and Tay (the b-frand and fav travel buddy) and I headed to try and slip into a pub to watch the Barcelona versus Madrid game. On our second try we were successful and snagged the last two seats at La Taverna and tried every drink on the menu (at least that’s what it felt like) and then headed home.

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Day 7: 

May 7, 2017

On Monday we decided to put our rental cars to good use and take a quick jaunt over to Southern France for a road trip. My mother is a city planner and so she has been obsessed with a bridge called the Viaduct for quite some time. It was about a four hour drive which seemed insane to most of the European people we talked to for a day trip but we were chill about it. It was overlooking a medieval town where we stopped for a late lunch and to get some french cheese.

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Day 8: 

May 8, 2018 

Parting ways by couple, Tay and I caught the train into Barcelona to explore for ourselves. We headed for Park Guell, which is a neighbourhood that Gaudi attempted to built as an upscale housing district in Spain. I read that it failed miserably and in the whole time he was building it he was only able to sell one house. Most of this is blamed on the fact that it’s at the top of a VERY large hill and so back in the day, without cars, no one was willing to make the commitment to trek up that hill every day AND I DO NOT BLAME THEM. Anyway, if you aren’t familiar Park Guell is a small portion of a larger garden area. The garden area is open to the public and the park requires tickets. Because of a ticket mishap we did not have tickets but opted to walk around the gardens, which have a large terrace that goes up above the park. From up on that view we could see all the things that I wanted to see within the park (the mosaic bench, and the two main buildings that look like gingerbread houses), so I’m not actually sure what you get by going into the park. After, when researching, we discovered that most other visitors and bloggers said the entry wasn’t worth it and everything can be seen from the garden so stick with that if you want to save some coin. We then walked back down the hill (much easier) and stopped for some sangria and an app before meeting the rest of the fam for our Sagrada Familia tour.

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If you know anything at all about Barcelona or Spain you know this is like the end all be all of tourist attractions. Think the Eiffel Tower of Barcelona. So obviously we had to go. We did a guided headset tour that explains the building inside and out and after completing it I can safely say the most impressive part is the outside. I would honestly say that skipping the inside would be completely fine (especially since it was 27 euros). If you do want to go inside I would say hold off until 2026 because allegedly that’s when it’s supposed to be done.

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Day 9: 

May 9th, 2018

On our last day my sister and I were down for some shopping, so we headed to Barcelona AGAIN, and had our men in tow. After getting off the train we needed some sustenance so first stop was ramen at Tonkotsu, which was likely the best ramen I’ve ever had… and the dumplings…don’t even get me started. Then we headed down some of the high-end shopping streets in Barcelona to be annoying and loiter in Chanel and Gucci. I witnessed an 80 year old woman counting her stack of five thousand euros cash in hundreds in Chanel so I can now say I’ve seen it all. The last order of business for the trip was a very random Niall Horan concert that happened to be going on that night in the city. Not a concert reviewer but it was honestly a really good show, and Julia Michaels opened for him and she was having the time of her life up there. Plus the demographic was 10-16 year old female and so the bar lines were non-existent.

Day 10: 

May 10, 2018

Our flight was at 11:45 a.m. so a very hungover group of us made the 24 hour voyage home and it was very sad.

Later lovelies!

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