This is the second in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!
Post-airport line ups and a quick Americano for Chris, we got in a cab.
Even driving on the highway was beautiful in Barcelona, but the civil engineering/highway design still reminded me of those in Canada. Certain details exceeded Canadian highways in beauty like the planted flowering shrubberies in the Barcelona medians, the gorgeous hillsides and colourful rocky cliffs. At one point we passed what almost looked like a historic village, but was really the largest and most attractive hillside cemetery that I have ever seen. We had the driver drop us off near a square or “plaza” called Placa de Reial (See photos in bottom collection) near our apartment.
We walked down a side street while carrying our luggage, we each brought a back pack and shared one large suitcase (my side was jam packed). We stopped at the first shop we saw that sold wine and bought a bottle of red and white Solaz to celebrate with later. After a few minutes of walking aimlessly we eventually asked for help from a nearby Italian waiter and a Barcelonian Policia officer. Neither person had heard of the street and said that it must be very small. It was supposed to be around the corner somewhere yet they had never heard of it! I hadn’t yet realized just how many tiny side streets existed and how easily it would be to miss it even by locals.
When we did find the street we laughed because it was the same street that the shop had been on where we bought the wine – we had already been there, but hadn’t quite figured out that the street signs were on the sides of buildings yet!
Our apartment entryway paralleled these beautiful glass and iron detailed doors that allowed you to see the beautiful tiled floors and marble staircase inside the lobby. Whereas our doorway was old, wooden, and covered in graffiti. The street itself was a mixture of beautiful, dirty, and littered with street art. After our host buzzed us in, we began our trek up the many stairs.
To greet us at the first stairwell landing was a used condom on the floor, this was a less then perfect first impression. We continued our way up, Chris lugged our massive shared suitcase up the steep stairwell to the fourth floor “Tercero” (in Spanish the first floor is called “Principal,” second is “Primero,” third is “Segundo”). Our host Marc was a nice guy, he showed us around and I saw my first dead cockroach that he quickly cleaned up without me saying anything before we used the washroom. Chris and I had showers before we decided to explore our new neighbourhood a little more, with me feeling uneasy about our authentic apartment and lacking much needed sleep.
We decided to get lunch, but finding a gluten free place for Celiac is our new priority these days with a somewhat recent diagnosis – this makes things only slightly more challenging. A young woman stood outside sliding glass doors to a place called MoMo. It was on a side street and was impressively nicer inside than I had expected. The interior had two levels with an open concept to see the seating in the loft area above. MoMo was filled with original artwork for sale that added splashes of colour around the room. Lunch was delicious and fittingly, just as on our first date, I spilled on myself – wearing a new white shirt I immediately had a tiny stain from my delicious prawns.
I felt mildly nauseous after lunch so Chris and I decided to have a nap. I really needed this bit of sleep to catch up to the new time zone and fill in the gap that I missed on the long flight. The two-hour nap was my reset button; the cockroach was gone, the condom was
cleaned up, we met a sweet older Spanish woman from the first floor apartment who barely spoke English, and the streets suddenly seemed more charming.
We went to the famous food market off Las Ramblas called La Boqueria for a short time.
One cramped walk through was enough as it was insanely busy. This was the Toronto St. Lawrence Market on crack. I quickly realized that overly tourist areas aren’t for me, my anxiety, or my clutched onto purse. We decided to get underground metro passes and head to the waterfront harbour district. From there it was a bit of a guessing game (where I am usually right but Chris wants to check the map and figure things out only to realize that, yes, I am absolutely right).
We walked along the harbour-front and in between small nearby streets. I found a store called Only in the Sea near an open square with public ping pong tables and dogs running about where I purchased a 1950s-esque hair band and a pink painted fan to help beat the heat.
We decided that we weren’t hungry, but wanted to enjoy a drink with a view so we went along the street facing the Mediterranean Sea. Some places wouldn’t take us unless we ordered food as well so we kept looking. We found a bar and the man asked us if we wanted to drink upstairs. To our surprise and delight there was the most beautiful oasis of a rooftop patio called Hotel 54. We had a great view of the city and the water.
We talked about who might own the million dollar yachts that pulled in and out of the ports and day dreamed a little. I ordered a strawberry Daiquiri as I often do when I’m thinking about my dog of the same name and Chris had the best gin and tonic of his life. We then each had a Bourbon neat – our Spanish bartender had never heard of the term ‘neat,’ apparently they call it plain in Barcelona. This rooftop patio was an intimate paradise and catapulted our somewhat shaky start to the honeymoon into bliss.
We watched the sun go down from the oasis-like bar and then made our way back to the street in search of dinner. We shared a delicious plate of paella after a starter of prosciutto. The walk back to the apartment seemed doable and allowed us to see the city at night so we made our way back to the apartment by foot. The walk was about a half hour long and we enjoyed seeing the already attractive architecture lit up with spotlights.
Chris found a gluten free beer from the shop and wanted to drink it as we walked, something that he insisted he saw other people doing (I later looked this up and discovered it is only occasionally regulated by the authorities, but is in fact illegal). A friendly German tourist leant him a lighter to open it – a Canadian and a German can both appreciate a cold beer. I poured a glass of white wine for myself back at the apartment as Chris drank his beer. We relaxed in the heat, with our room fan pointed directly at us and we winded down for the evening. After a long first day we were asleep by 10:45pm Barcelona time, excited for what was to come in the next day.
Collection of other photos from day one: