Members of our motley crew: Aunt Renee and Uncle David, me and Vin (not pictured) and Dad and wife Angie
I was super glad to have my Dad along because he provides a great amount of comic value. His Texas accent combined with his (sorry, Dad) rudimentary grasp of the Spanish language resulted in a new dialect my boyfriend coined "Doug-lish". My father had a habit of either adding an "o" or an "a" to an English word to make it sound Spanish or would just make up an entirely new word altogether, earnestly believing it was correct. In the end, his efforts were pretty fruitless (and even more funny) as they actually speak a language called Catalan in Barcelona.
We rented an apartment in Plaza Catalunya, steps away from the famous tourist alley "The Rambla" which was basically the Barcelonan equivalent of Times Square without the migraine-inducing lights.
It was a vibrant collection of human statues, flower stalls, tourists, and apparently, pick-pockets. I kept waiting for someone to gasp and yell "Oh no! Where's my fanny pack?!" but it never happened. Guidebooks always blow that stuff out of of proportion.
The main reason to visit The Rambla, other than to hear the incessant whistle coming from the street peddlers trying to pawn off these unbelievably annoying noisemakers is The Boqueria. Into food? This place will knock your little athletic socks off.
Not far away from La Rambla was my favorite neighborhood--Bari Gotic. Oh, how I fell in love with this neighborhood! Tight, narrow streets filled with tiny shops, charming cafes and gelato up to my earlobes. Beautiful, gothic buildings and churches made with big stones and enormous doors crafted from heavy wood. If I were to spend another week in Barcelona, I would spend the entire time in this neighborhood.
All the doors have graffiti all over them, which is a fun contrast to the stately shape and size.
But obviously a big reason to visit Barcelona is to view Antoni Gaudi's unbelievable architectural achievements. We missed a few, but caught the big boys like...
And the most spectacular place I've ever seen...
La Sagrada Familia
My friend Caroline told me skipping this famous church would be like going to India and forgetting to visit the Taj Mahal. I think she was right.
It's great to be all touristy and hit the sights that make a place famous to outsiders, but what I really love to do when visiting places is try to live more like a local. I'm so glad we chose to stay in an apartment for a week rather than a hotel, because it really made us feel like we were part of Barcelona, even if it was only for a week.
It's a good thing we didn't stay at Hotel Colon. My dad and I are positively Griswoldian.
That said, my absolute favorite part of the trip were the days that went unplanned. The times when we just wandered and observed and delighted in the things that make this city so vibrant, beautiful and special. I found the best time to do this was at night, as that's when Barcelona really comes alive.
I heard a handsome man play Spanish guitar in a dark alley in Barcelona. It was, hands down, my favorite moment of the trip. We bought the CD afterward and listened to it in the car. Very nice, but it will never sound the same in a Honda driving to Long Island as it did in that alley when we just happened to walk on by.
As they say in Doug-lish, "C'est la vio".
**Stay tuned to my Barcelona tales...next up--COMIDA.