Final days of relaxation

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Thursday around noon we left Hotel Market in the Sant Antoni area, right next to Mercat de Sant Antoni. It’s time for some relaxation before finally going home. And we got it. I also managed to get sun burnt so now I’m kind of red-ish in my skin.

Tomorrow we will leave all tapas, all cava, Clara’s*, all sun, Guadi, Barcelona and Spain behind us and trade it for old Sweden again. We love travelling but it’s always something special with coming home! The final glimpse of this trip will be this sunset over  Montserrat seen from our hotel window.

* Clara = beer with lemonade in it.

PS: Gallery coming soon!

Park Güell Part 2

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DSC06536Today we did everything right. We had pre-purchased tickets with entrence time at 13:00 (internet cost 7€ each), we took a taxi to get there in time and then we waited for about 20 minutes before we could enter. And then it was finally time to get into the park designed by Guadi himself. Park Güell. Well, we had access to the park before, but the park is devided into two parts. The Monumental Zone and the “open to the public zone”. To preserve the Monumental Zone they only allow a certain amount of people to enter at a time.

So there we were in the middle of the Monumental Zone and realized that it’s nothing more than a park with really funky architecture. Don’t get  me wrong, it’s a cool place and there is so many details to look at. And every time you think you’ve discovered everything there is to discover in a certain spot then you discover something new. He was strange in that way senor Gaudi.

So we spent some time in there walking around looking at stuff and were quite happy that for the first time in a week there was some clouds at the sky so it wasn’t that hot for the moment. After we left the park the clouds started to go away and things got extremely hot again. One hour later we sat at the same restaurant where we had tapas some days ago eating tapas again.

DSC06550After the food we went to the market and bought some bracelets for Sofia. A little reward for her bravery from the day before not panicing on the serpentine road to and from Montserrat. After dinner we went to Parlament Street and into a icecream bar called Sirvent and bought a milkshake, which was nice. The reason to this was because David said it was a good place. So far this was the only tip from others that we have followed.

Weather update!

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Okay so I know I have mentioned the weather a lot the past days and it’s not so strange. Turns out it’s been like 40°C+ and the spanish government has issued a warning for wild fires in the area of Valencia, specially in the area around Montserrat (level 3 which is the highest). Barcelona is “only” a level 2 warning. And here you can read more about the heat in southern Europa. Over and out!

Montserrat and Cava trial

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DSC06371I didn’t sleep much last night. Sofia didn’t either. We had to go up 07am this morning because for the first time in a while we had something planned early. After breakfast we took a taxi to Placa de Catalunya and then found our way to Explore Catalunyas office. At 08:30 am we found ourself in a minibus together with about 9 strangers and a tour guide called David. After about an hour on the road and the major part was on a serpentine road we were finally at our destination, Montserrat. But Montserrat is not only a mountain famous for it’s nice hiking and climbing, it’s also famous for Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey and the Black Madonna.

DSC06395David showed us around for a while, then he informed the group that the hiking trails was closed because of the high temperatur and the fact that there was a level 3 warning for wildfires issued for the Montserrat area. So no hiking for us. Sofia who is scared of heights was really relieved by that. Instead of hiking we made a short visit to the basilica and saw the black madonna in a distance. You could pay to get close to it and touch it but we didn’t feel like staying in a queue in 40°C+. But looking around inside the church was nice. There was also a museum with some nice art in it’s collections. Picasso, Dali, Monet to mention a few.

Since all hiking trails were closed David asked if we wanted to leave earlier than planned and instead go to a very nice restaurant which all of the group agreed upon. The road to the restaurant was first down from Montserrat, then we had to go into some town somewhere and drive through a very dry landscape. Finally at the site for the restaurant we found the tables under some lush vines. The staff here was really friendly and funny and the food was fantastic. For some reason I got the feeling that the food here represented the catalunyan cuisine more than any restaurant in Barcelona. The name of the restaurant was Vinyanova. And the best part, it wasn’t expensive at all!

DSC06423After the food we continued towards the winery called Pares Balta where we first had a short introduction to ecological wine making and then a tour in their wine cellar and finally a fantastic wine tasting. We got to taste one Cava, two white wines, one rosé and one red. All nice in it’s own way. Five “small” glasses of wine managed to get both me and Sofia a bit tipsy. But what got to follow us home was a bottle of their own olive oil.

Then after another hot and sticky hour in the bus we finally arrived at Placa de Catalunya again. After thanking the guide David and saying goodbye to the other members of our nice little group we scurried away to find a cab to get back to the hotel. After a refreshing shower we went out for dinner at a place called Muer which serves pizzas for example. Sofia had a goat cheese pizza and mine was called breakfast because it was bacon and eggs on it!

And the day trip we booked was called Montserrat and Winery Tour with Explore Catalunya and cost us a measly €79 per person. Ask for David, he’s a great guide!

Park Güell Part 1

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So we set off on a  mission today to visit Park Güell which is a part of Guadi’s creation. We did some research yesterday and found out that you could buy tickets in advance through the internet but we passed on that one since it seemed simple enough to just go there and queue. It’s not. Arriving there we was informed that the earliest time we could get in was 15:30 and clock was not even 13:00. And waiting in the heat was not an option so we decided to do something else but we didn’t really know what to do so we started walking back towards the city centre.

DSC06228Quite soon we found something called the Gaudi Experiencia. Like a 3D cinema with some air and water spray and moving chairs. Sofia sure did like it so I guess it was worth it. After that we just walked for like an eternity in the heat and sometime around that we also came to a smaller disagreement about most things for the moment. Getting a taxi and going to Zoo Barcelona seemed to solve that since we found  both shadow, some cold drinks and something to eat there.

Sadly enough neither of us did enjoy the visit to the zoo that much since we have both seen most of the animals in their normal habitat and not in ultra small protections. Besides, most of the animals was just laying still because of the heat so there was not much action at all. After the zoo we walked towards the Arc de Triumph to get a few pictures of that. When we were done with that we took a taxi back to the hotel, showered and then went out to eat somewhere. We ended up in some local place eating very good tapas.

Sunstroke at Montjuic Castle

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I don’t know what made us wanna get to the top of Montjuic and explore the castle there on the hottest day ever but something did. But first we ran into a street market set up right outside the hotel. Mostly books and comic books but there was some other stuff as well. Nothing worth buying really but fun to walk around and look at stuff.

DSC06168Then we took a taxi to Montjuic. Halfway up the hill the taxi driver stoped and told us he could not go any further, he made some vague gestures in the general direction towards some traffic signs but I have my own suspicion about the quality of his car which sounded quite tormented in the slopes and turns toward the top. So we paid him and got out of the car and started to walk the last 500 meters or so. Those 500 meters took about 30 mins to finish. It was truly crazy hot today!

Finally at site we got our tickets to Montjuic Castle, 5€ each and then our first stop inside the castle was the cafeteria. Rested and feuled up we headed out to discover the castle that turned out to be a bit of a dissapointment. We had hoped for a bit more, but it was just a really small exhibition and then fantastic view over the sea and Barcelona and the defense walls around the fort.

DSC06209Since it was so crazy hot we decided to take the Cable Car down despite Sofias fear of hights. I’m proud of the fact that Sofia overcome her fear for the cable car. We had a good view of the gardens of Montjuic before we finally hit ground. Then we took a taxi back to the hotel, had some tapas and something cool to drink in the hotel bar before retreating to the room for a few hours.DSC06219

The plan was to find a restaurant to eat at but it turns out that on Sunday afternoons Barcelona is closed. There’s nothing open at all so we had to go back to the hotel and eat in the hotel restaurant. Now we’re watching Spanish Masterchef.. We have no clue on what they say but at least we know what they are doing!

Barri Gotic

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DSC06041Yesterday we didn’t do much at all, mostly due to the heat. We chilled at the hotel mostly but took a small tour to the market and for dinner later on. Today on the other hand we defied the heat and took a taxi to L’Aquàrium de Barcelona. After about 1½ hour watching various fishes, sharks and other water dwellers plus a lot of kids fighting each other to get a better viewing positing we decided to leave.

DSC06111We spent some time walking about the area around Port Vell, had a coke in the shade from some trees. Then we browsed some market stalls and found a small piece of jewellry for Sofia there. Heading back to the city took us into Cituat Vella and Barri Gotic (the oldest part of Barcelona). We had some nice hours walking around in Barri Gotic popping into small boutiques and shops but finally we decided it was time for something to eat.

DSC06112Panchito became our choice. Mexican, not Spanish, but it’s almost the same, no? We had some nacho plats and I choose a little to big beer served in one of those funny glasses you can’t put down on the table, it requires a frame to put it in. But in the end I won over the beer. After some more walking around we suddenly stumbled upon La Rambla. This where we decide to head back to the hotel for some siesta.

Later in the evening we walked a block from our hotel to a restaurant we had seen the day before which turned out to be a good place. We had some very nice tapas and front row seats to watch the Barcelonians go about their lives.

Baffelona by bus

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Today was our first real day in Baffelona. After breakfast we walked from the hotel to Placa d’Espania and located the place for the ‘Hop on hop off’-bus. So begun our journey through Baffelona by bus. We got to see a lot actually, we have some ideas for future day trips around the city. Except for riding the bus we didn’t actuallly do anything in particular.

Well, at first it was incredibly hot and we’re not used to that so we did complain a lot about the heat. Then it became cloudy and that made things a bit cooler. Then after the bus ride, all three lines took almost 5-6 hours with a break for lunch, we decided to take another way back to the hotel. Worst idea ever. We got lost after the first turn. Found the main street we used earlier today, didn’t remember where to make a turn so we had to walk a few blocks extra.

Except for that, Sofia has some insect bites that itches. Went to the Farmacia to get something for it. The lady behind the counter asked if we wanted repellant but when I said bites she made a funny face and frowned, then came with some creme that seem to help.

Next step for today is dinner and then relaxation and preparations for tomorrow…

Relocating downtown

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We spent yesterday doing nothing. Sun bathing, bathing in the pool and then drinking San Miguel Clara, a beer with lemonade in it. Very refreshing in the 30°C+ heat. Later in the evening we also had dinner at the hotel restaurant (L’Orangerie Restaurant) which also have a star in the Guide Michelin. The sommelier heard we were from Sweden so she came and said hello to us, she had been in Sweden for a year back in 2002 and was very happy to speak some Swedish again!

DSC05810We also bought a body lotion for Sofia that smell of lemons. Brand name is L’Occitane. They have very high quality stuff on this hotel, Gran Hotel La Florida. But today it’s time to leave this wonderful place. We are relocating downtown to experience the grand city of Barcelona. From our stunning view of the city we’re moving into the city instead. From silence and tranquilo to the bustling rythm of a pulsating city.

At noon we checked out and took a taxi down hill, through traffic jams and crowded streets until we finally arrived at our destination. The room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we took our escape to a nearby café and spent some time there. Around 3pm the room was ready and we went there to make ourself at home since it will be our home for the next coming 11 nights.

DSC05813The room is not to shabby, it’s not like in the other place but it’s clean, the bed is nice, we have air condition and a fantastic view of roof tops and a street. We took a stroll around the area and found the Mercat de Sant Antoni, or the temporary market rather since they are renovating the original place. Lots of stuff to look at, lots of clothes. We bought a pair of sun glasses each for €5 a pair. I bet they are real Ray Bans. Or not.

DSC05814We also had dinner at the hotel in the hotel restaurant. For the measly sum of €45 we had a three course dinner. There was some confusion over the starter dish so I got Sofias and she got mine. No biggie really, then we discovered that the one she was supposed to get contained walnuts so I guess it was good she didn’t eat that one considering she’s alergic to walnuts. The main course was nice, some kind of grilled meat and for desert it was a chocolate bomb. Chocolate bisquit with chocolate icecream and chocolat sause.

As a side note, it’s very interesting travelling with Sofia since she’s a hypocondric. She has gotten some kind of insect bite, probably mosquito that itches a bit. She’s convinced it’s rabies and that she will die.

And off we go!

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Finally the first day on our honeymoon has begun. That’s right, honeymoon. On the 30th of May Sofia and I got married and now it’s our honeymoon. I will cover the wedding later on…

DSC05775We left a rainy Sweden for a very sunny Barcelona. We stepped off the plane sometime around 13:00, lugage was claimed and about 14:00 we were already in a cab on our way to the first hotel where we’re going to stay for a couple of nights. We ended up in a junior suite at Gran Hotel La Florida.

DSC05769Arriving at the hotel caused some confusion on our part as the portier opened the cab door for us and when Sofia tried to close it after gettting out the portier told her: “You don’t need to do that!” which we noticed applies for a lot of stuff here. Excellent service, but it also feel a bit strange to have people do stuff for you that you’re used to do yourself. It’s also a bit odd to be refered to as Mr and Mrs Wikström all the time. Oh well, we’ll get used to it I guess.

After a quick shower we were ready to hit the deck! A grand lunch and some cold beers in the sun, then we dived into the pool for a while.

DSC05795Later in the evening we went for dinner at the terasse with a splendid view of nightfall in Barcelona. I honestly thought we would hear the city but up here on the mountain it’s quite silent which makes for a good nights sleep. And a good nights sleep is exactly what we need!