Honeymoon Part 9 – (Barcelona) Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – Day 8 + Day 9 flight home:

This is the ninth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


10196 Steps

Our last full day in Barcelona was a quiet one. We spent time in the apartment all morning and went out for lunch. Chris and I went to Placa de Reial and realized that we hadn’t gone down one of the attached side streets, which was odd since we had been down all the others.

This took us in a new direction and we found a really nice restaurant called La Castanya. The owners seemed passionate and the food was presented beautifully. Portions were smaller, but the quality of the food made such a big impact that it really did make up for quantity. We loved our lunch and decided it would be our fancy meal of the day instead of our dinner and that we’d get sandwiches from Conesa’s and watch Game of Thrones for the night.

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Photo by Chris Bowman.

After lunch we wandered the streets looking for the store that I’d bought a purse at on the third day so that I could get the name, but we were unsuccessful. We had officially been in Barcelona for over a week and had walked down small streets in our neighbourhood so many times that you’d think the store would be easy for us to find – but it wasn’t.

There are so many side streets there, the places look familiar and we were definitely able to say that we had been to many of the streets before. The issue is that a lot of the streets look very similar in style: they wind beautifully; tower above us with balconies, window railings, clotheslines, and shingled rooftops; they are littered with graffitied doors next to elegant entryways; and many connect to open squares surrounded by eateries. Each street has its own beauty, but they do get a bit confusing when you are actually looking for something you “stumbled upon” just one week earlier.

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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

We had small servings of gelato, wandered a bit more and went to our apartment. I read Pride and Prejudice while Chris napped. We then had the quiet night that we had planned for consisting of sandwiches and Game of Thrones. Not only was I excited to get home to Canada, but my friend Caitlin Currie had sent me a selection of sneak peak photos from our wedding that I loved. I slept a total of three hours that night.

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Instagram post of our sneak peak wedding photos by Caitlin Currie.

(Barcelona) Thursday August 25, 2016 – Day 9:

               We woke at 6:45am and got ready faster than Chris had thought we would. We waited until 8:00am to descend the steep four fight staircase one last time and got a cab on Las Ramblas. Our cab driver was a really nice guy, he told us how popular Arcade Fire (an amazing Canadian band) is in Barcelona and that tickets were sold out when he tried to get them the last time they were here.

Although the flight was longer because of the time difference, it went by the slightest bit faster than it did on the way there. I slept for a half hour, but aside from that Chris and I watched Weekend at Bernie’s, The ‘F’ Word (released as What If in most countries), we read, we played chess, and we eventually arrived in Toronto. We were home.

After hours of customs lines and a long cab ride… we were home.

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Daq wearing her new Catalonia bandana from us.
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Honeymoon Part 8 – Tuesday, August 23, 2016 – Day 7:

This is the eighth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


7465 Steps

I woke up feeling hopeful and excited that today going to the Picasso Museum would become a reality, but was still unsure of how big of a line there might be on a regular day. We arrived 15 minutes before the place opened and there were only eight other people ahead of us – this was extremely pleasing! By the 9:00am opening time, there were approximately 50 people in line behind us.

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Me in front of the museum before it opened.

The building was beautiful inside, very rustic and castle-like with modern windows and doors built into existing structures. First, we walked through the temporary exhibition which consisted of nearly 100 different Picasso ink prints, mostly dating from the late 1950s and onward. It would have been better if the temporary collection was to be seen last for Chris’ sake, I told him that once he saw what Picasso was capable of he’d respect his more simplistic cubism a little more.

The museum’s main collection is laid out chronologically with small bits of biological information told on the walls going room from room. Chris and I enjoyed reading each bio-blurb that added to Picasso’ life story. These facts definitely added to the viewing experience as we were able to then look for influences in his style within the paintings. Picasso’s artistic capabilities at age 14 were incredible, it makes sense that he got bored of controlled line and colour work and explored freer forms. As a much less accomplished artist myself, I admire his ability to stray from the ordinary and contradict normalcy.

The recommended viewing order of the collection flows as follows: first the rooms take you through stages by location of where he was living at the time, how geography and culture affected his style; then of course through his blue and rose periods; back to Barcelona; and lastly by differing subjects, muses, and series’. It was a really wonderful length and size of gallery that allowed us to see everything displayed without getting bored or tired. I was, however, disappointed not to see Guernica in person, but learned that it is actually housed in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.

Chris and I left feeling very content and discussed Picasso’s different visual interpretations of vaginas, penis’, bums, and boobs. Chris and I are both adults with strong childish sides, so there was definitely some pointing of fingers and smiles when we looked at Picasso’s print work that resembles a cartoon-esque style of exaggerated nudes. We walked back to our apartment and had a nap.

This was the point in our trip where we had seen everything that we had planned on seeing and didn’t want to spend much more money. We loved loved loved Barcelona, but it was at this moment that we both admitted we were looking forward to returning home to Canada. Living ‘authentically,’ and by that I mean in a small fourth floor apartment with a somewhat shared space and no air conditioning, is seen as charming for a trip like ours, but our home in Canada is what we love more. We look forward to returning to suburbia, we miss our dog Daq most of all, but we also miss the smell of the air, our friends and family, our personal items that we spend our leisure time with.

 

After our nap we had a bit of normalcy, I lounged in bed re-reading Pride and Prejudice for hours while Chris browsed the computer and watched a documentary.

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We had plans to go to Messie Pizza again for dinner. We took the metro and walked the several blocks only to discover with a laugh that it was closed! A sign on the door said that they’d be closed until September 2, likely gone on holiday. Hungry and thirsty, we stopped at a convenience store to get water and a snack while we looked for another place. Many restaurants seemed to be closed and the ones we inquired about could not guarantee gluten free.

We took the metro back to our temporary neighbourhood and got McDonalds, brought it to the apartment, and binge watched Game of Thrones. I was perfectly content with how the night ended as it felt a bit like home, somewhere we would return to in a couple days.

Honeymoon Part 7 – Monday, August 22, 2016 – Day 6:

This is the seventh entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


14489 Steps:

We woke up a little earlier than usual, but still slept in compared to our normal routine in Canada. I had been awake for an hour or so earlier in the morning after having nightmares about Daq’s health, I felt a bit better when I saw that my mom had posted cheery pictures of her and Daq at a dog park from the previous day.

 

We took the subway to Glorias and walked the very short distance to a massive flea market called Encants Vells or Mercat de Bellcaire. It’s a great place to outfit your apartment or get fabric for making your own clothes as a local. As English speaking Canadians, the market vendors very obviously tried to charge us high prices. I also found that the items that would be able to fit into our suitcase were either mass produced or a collection of overpriced vintage knick knacks.

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Mirrored ceiling covering the multiple level Mercat de Bellcaire, photo by Chris Bowman.

I would like to emphasize the power of walking away at the first price. It is very common to be overcharged at these places even if they don’t think you’re a tourist and if you ask for a price, say no thank you, and start walking away – the price will drop almost every time.

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Arc de Triomf, photo by Chris Bowman.

After walking around, we took the subway to Arc de Triomf. Chris claims that the French version is much larger, but this being my first Arc, I thought it quite tall and quite beautiful. I suggest going to this area if you love parks. Around the Arc is a long stretch of plaza lined with palm trees and benches. We ate our lunch here in the shade. We saw a nearby park and decided to take a walk, some museums are in there as well, but didn’t seem to be open on a Monday. We realized we were closer to our apartment than we thought and walked the rest of the way, finding some interesting shops to look as we went.

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Arc de Triomf, photo by Chris Bowman.

We relaxed and drank wine at the apartment. We dressed fancy for a dinner date at a place that we’d heard of called Tapeo, but when Chris looked up their location we discovered that neither of us had checked to see if it was open, and apparently they are closed Mondays.

This leads me to a helpful hint for Barcelona travelers: constantly research where you’re going. We learnt that many stores, restaurants, and most museums are closed on Mondays here. We didn’t want to change and decided to wander our neighbourhood to look for an intimate restaurant.

There are a large number of restaurants in Barcelona, but most weren’t as fancy or romantic as what we had wanted for our date night. We finally stopped at a less than authentic, yet upscale eatery attached to a posh boutique hotel. The restaurant was called Le Bouchon, it was decorated nicely, had delicious tapas, and moderately higher price tags, but we didn’t stay too long as most things were not guaranteed to be free of cross-contaminated gluten.

With some food in our stomachs we continued to wander in hopes that we would find another romantic tapas place that was also, as Chris said and I agreed, “not too big and not too full of people.” We gave up, with many places being closed on Mondays, we retreated to a random casual tapas bar, much too overdressed and tired. We ate a bit more and headed back to the apartment as we needed to wake up for 7:00am to get in line for Picasso!

Photos from our walk back to the apartment:

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Neat building that we passed on our walk to our apartment, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

Honeymoon Part 6 – (Barcelona) Sunday, August 21, 2016 – Day 5:

This is the sixth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


12530 steps:

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Read their policies on the bottom right! Photo by Chris Bowman.

We woke up late today not feeling 100%, but still planning on having tons of fun in Barcelona. The fun night we had was definitely worth it, but we were paying for it now (haha).

 

We got ready and walked to a café that we’d read about online. Chris, being a major coffee buff, was dying to try the place out. It was a quick walk from where we were staying and was very cool inside (not temperature wise, they didn’t have air conditioning). The place is called Satan’s Coffee. Our barista had a very awesome anatomical heart tattoo on her right forearm that had splashes of colour, she was also very nice. Chris enjoyed his coffee, I enjoyed two bottles of water, and then we were off.

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Satan’s Coffee, photo by Chris Bowman.

We walked to the subway, took two quick rail lines (green and red), and walked a little more than a block to get to a brunch place that we’d researched that provided gluten free options called Copasetic. The service wasn’t amazing, but the décor and the taste was to die for. I had a Benedict, Chris had fried eggs, beans, and veggies – both tasted incredible and we were very full when we finished.

Our plan was to head back to the apartment and go to the Picasso Museum. Every Sunday after 3:00pm this museum is free which is why we waited until today to go. I was so excited! We walked the 15-20 minute walk from our apartment and then we saw the line.

It was a line to conquer all other lines that have come before it. We immediately knew we didn’t want to stand in it, but walked along the way to see just how long it went on for – it was insane. The line was longer than any that I’ve ever seen at Wonderland, but about as equal to lines to get into Toronto’s FanExpo. It would have been at least a three hour wait so we decided to go another day and that the entrance fee would be worth a shorter wait. The museum is closed Mondays, but back open on Tuesday so we designated this to be our new Picasso day.

When we got back to the apartment I was annoyed at myself for just how disappointed I was. I researched into other local museums and had hoped that we could visit the National Art Museum (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)– it has the most gorgeous entrance and a rooftop viewpoint on top of all the beautiful pieces of art inside. BUT the nearest metro stop was a 22-minute walk from the building which seemed a little ridiculous. We were going to make Picasso happen, I just had to wait a little longer.

My bad mood needed a reset, I was hungover and disappointed which made me extremely grumpy. I did not want to be this way on our honeymoon so we had a nap (we’re big nappers).

When we woke up, I was feeling a lot better and we decided that today would be a much needed rest day. We planned to get fast food for dinner and watch “Game of Thrones” (GOT), Chris had been catching up and then we were to watch the latest season together. We walked to McDonalds at 7pm and got our food to go. We laid out our spread and set up an episode of GOT on the laptop. I thought to myself “This is awesome, what an amazing honeymoon” with zero sarcasm.

We had another –entirely different – perfect evening, this time being a lot more realistic and homey. We hung out in a very hot apartment eating fast food, and watching a binge worthy show. We researched for a gluten free gelato place nearby and walked to it. The place was called Gelaaati De Marco and was a 5-minute walk from us.

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The sun had gone down, there was a breeze blowing through the streets and we held hands as we casually strolled through Barceonla. I got one scoop of banana and another of dulce de lece, it was insanely delicious. Chris got banana, peach, and caramel, he loved his too. We sat in a square, sharing a one seater bench and admiring the dogs who passed by. Again, I thought to myself “perfect, this is perfect.”

When we finished the gelato we weren’t ready to head back quite yet so we took a longer walk through the streets and although we discovered some new ones, it was comforting to realize that I recognized the area more (I’m better than Chris for knowing where to go even though he won’t admit it).

We climbed the four flights of stairs for the fourth time that day and were completely content with ourselves. I took a shower, washed my face and we watched a comedy. “The Eric Andre Show” is one of Chris’ favourites that I used to strongly dislike, but now I somehow fully admit to loving, even when he grosses me out. We then found a John Mulaney (my favourite standup comedian) audio on Youtube and listened to it as we fell asleep. 

Possibly for the first time ever, I fell asleep before Chris. It was a beautiful day.

Honeymoon Part 5 – (Barcelona/Girona) Saturday, August 20, 2016 – Day 4:

This is the fifth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


24605 steps:

We woke up early to start our train trek to Girona and rode the metro to Barcelona Sants railway station. We spoke with at least three different miserable employees who didn’t seem to care very much about helping us. We lucked into finding our train despite the lack of assistance we had been given with our mildly confusing train tickets.

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Exterior shot of the newer AVE RENFE train that we rode into Girona.

Our train was similar to those of Via Rail (Canadian) except that this train traveled a lot faster. Spain has a high-speed rail line, Alta Velocidad Española (AVE), which is run by RENFE – it made what was once an hour and a half train ride into merely 38 minutes. On the way to Girona, our train was shiny and new, but very hot inside. We took pictures of the train for our friend Ian who loves them.

Girona’s train station was gorgeous and obviously renovated within the last ten years. It was a lot less busy than the Barcelona station and the staff were much friendlier. Chris and I didn’t know where we were going, nor did we have a map of the city, but we assumed that the station must be moderately central and it turned out that the city had very helpful directional signs.

We walked into the city-centre and came across a set of old outdoor steps. We climbed them, and walked a few kilometers along what are known as “The Walls of Girona.” This upper path revealed a view of endless beauty in surreal cityscapes, but the walk itself looked as if it would never end. Chris and I went back down a set of stairs after some time and were still unable to see where it trailed off.

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At the top of the stairs before we walked the Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.
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I made Chris sit for a photo too, photo by Cassy Goulding.
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Chris with Girona houses in the distance, photo by Cassy Goulding.
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The Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.

My post-walk online research indicated that the history of the walls varies between websites. One site curator claimed that the walls were built “between the 11th and 15th century,” while another claimed that they were an “extension of the Roman walls during the medieval ages” and that they are remain as some “of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe (9th century).” 

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Beyond the walls, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Within the Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Girona rooftops, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

The picturesque rooftops with mountainous backdrops were incredible – I highly recommend pushing yourself to walk along the walls so that you can see the combination of old and new architecture that exists in breathtaking Girona.

The centre of town contained many community squares and a multitude of expensive boutiques, but we excitedly happened upon a small vintage store amidst a collection of tourist shops. This unique establishment sold vintage books, antique knick knacks, and hilariously irrelevant postcards from the 1950s to today. The shop was called Portal Del Colleccionista and was run by a woman and her toddler – perfect store-keeps for the charming boutique.

For lunch, we searched for a supermarket and bought water, prosciutto, swiss cheese, a peach, and an apple. It was just right for us! We ate under a tree in a nearby square next to a statue of books. We then wandered the city streets and crossed many of Girona’s bridges, but the most beautiful and most famous bridge that we crossed was the Eifel Bridge, built by the Gustave Eifel before he built the Eifel Tower!

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View from the Eifel Bridge, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Eifel Bridge in the distance, photo by Chris Bowman.

Our day trip to Girona was a success and definitely worth the visit, but it was exhausting – some of the most walking we’d done on the trip so far. We headed back to Barcelona earlier than planned, wrote our postcards at the Girona train station while we waited for our train, and tried not to fall asleep as we zipped back across the country by train to the big city.

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The funny post cards we bought.

The intimidating stairwell to our apartment seemed even more challenging after Girona. Chris labeled the daily activity of climbing four flights of stairs as our “Thigh Thruster, Butt Buster, Calf Crusher.” We then drank some wine and listened to music in our apartment.

Spain’s time difference compared to Canada’s forced us to choose between enjoying our cultural environment or waking up in the middle of the night to watch the CBC live coverage of The Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, Ontario. We joked about how horrible it was that we were on our ‘stupid’ honeymoon in ‘stupid’ Spain instead of at home watching the Hip – heavy on the sarcasm here as we were completely aware of how lucky we were and found out Chris’ parents had PVR’d the concert on their TV so that we could watch it at a later date.

We went out for dinner to a Gluten Free Pizza place that we had read about called Messie Sin Gluten. Pizza is my favourite food and the restaurant did not disappoint! They had 26 kinds of gluten free beer for Chris and every pizza was gluten free so cross contamination wasn’t an issue. If you don’t suffer from Celiac disease, Messie also has another location that uses regular dough.

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Feminist street festival on the left and me faux-singing with a paper mache version of the alien opera singer from The Fifth Element on the right.

We were having a lovely time and were ready for an impromptu adventure. The street festival extended to Messie’s neighbourhood and we wanted to see the festival nightlife in action. While Chris and I wandered around the Gracia area we found a feminist street festival that also housed vendors of the revolutionary cause to liberate Catalonia from Spain. Fittingly (activism-wise) a Spanish punk band was sound checking on the stage which struck our curiosity.

Fun fact about my Christopher: he is a pilot who is an excellent photographer, drummer, and he loves punk music. He proposed to me in his favourite Clash t-shirt that has holes in both armpits (I’m trying to convince him to let me make it into a pillow).

The band didn’t start the actual show for another half hour so we wandered through an awesome space street and also found a craft beer shop called The Beer-Ket! We drank bourbon and danced to Los Tronchos with a crowd of friendly Spanish punks.

On our way to the metro, we glided along in marital/bourbon bliss and met a wonderful New Zealander to whom we gushed about our admiration of his country – telling him it is at the top of our travel list. He laughed at us for being so in love with his home country as he was always getting away from it in his travels.

Before going into the apartment we went into one last bar near our place called Nevermind. It was a 90s grunge themed bar, yet they tended to play a wider range of 90s music than that. We each had a drink, enjoyed each other’s company, the music videos, the graffitied/stickered walls, and then went back home to bed.

This was our party night, we are not very wild partiers, but we had a great time!

Chris took a lot of really great photos in Girona, here are more of them:

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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

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Photo by Chris Bowman.