In today’s fast-paced world, 10 days out of the country seems like months. In just 10 short days, Paul Newman died, B-list stars Travis Barker and DJ AM were almost killed in a plane crash, and the stock market collapsed. We did manage to catch a replay of the presidential debates while we were gone, and caught up on the groan-worthy Palin/Couric interview once we got home. Heaven help us should that woman ever become president. I digress.
So about our trip. In a word? Awesome. And I mean that as in, it was awe-inspiring and at times, overwhelming even. How can one even comprehend all the greatness that was seen in a trip that included the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo, the ruins of Pompeii, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum? I find it hard to imagine what life must have been like in the late 1700’s during the Revolutionary war, let alone 79 A.D. when Mt. Vesuvius erupted and consumed the city of Pompeii. We’re talking a difference of a couple of hundred years versus a couple of thousand years. Mind-boggling.
And because of that, just one blog post dedicated to our trip would surely not do it justice. Instead, I’ll break it up a day or two at a time. And here we go:
Day 1 – Our flight left STL around 4:30 in the afternoon. We had a short layover in Newark before beginning our 8 hour trek overseas. I managed to sleep (uncomfortably) most of the way. My poor husband was only able to sleep for about 2 hours. We had another short layover in Paris that morning. So short, that I didn’t even have time to grab a cappuccino or a souvenir from DeGaulle airport. Our final leg of the flight brought us to Barcelona around 2pm local time. Knowing we would need to exchange cash for Euros, we got in line. But apparently the line for currency exchange is also the line for tax reimbursement for duty free shopping. Or something like that. All I know is we were surrounded by Russians with stacks of receipts, hoping to collect money from the bank window. This slowed the line down considerably, resulting in us finally getting our Euros – at the pitiful exchange rate of about 60% – about an hour later. We hopped a cab and arrived at our hotel around 3:30 pm.
This was our hotel.
Not bad, huh? To the right, just behind that bush on the ground floor was our suite. I’m not sure if we were upgraded, since I didn’t technically book a suite, but here are some images of our room:
The private balcony.
Along with our private hot tub, which we did not use. Wasteful, I know.
View of the courtyard from our balcony.
And a view of La Segrada Familia, also from our balcony. Inside the room, we have the sitting area (not pictured but on the far right)
And also the bedroom.
Behind me on the wall was our second flat screen TV, which would be great, except all the channels are in Spanish. So our two TVs were not used much.
Ah, the bathroom. You can tell a lot about a place by its bathroom.
I know what you’ree thinking. “Is she really going to dedicate the majority of her first post to a hotel room she stayed in for less than 24 hours?” And the answer is, “Yes, I am.” Because if you ever decide to go to Barcelona, especially if you’re staying over prior to boarding a cruise ship, I would highly recommend the Miramar Hotel. It’s close to the port and the views of the city are simply spectacular.
See what I mean?
Excuse the tired eyes. We tried to freshen up as soon as we checked into the room, but sleep deprivation is a difficult thing to hide.
After a quick appetizer of patatas fritas (fried potatoes, or fries) and a glass of wine at the hotel’s outdoor bar overlooking the city, we made our way down to the port via taxi.
This is the Port De Barcelona building, directly across the street from the Columbus monument.
We wandered around the port area, passing through a large wine tasting event, and eventually stopping at a local restaurant for some dinner. Dinner time in Spain is usually around 9 or 10 pm. I had the popular Spanish dish, paella, which is seafood and Spanish rice. After dinner, we made our way back down the port, but stopped when we noticed a street completely ablaze on our right. I tried to take a picture but it didn’t turn out. Basically, giant sparklers were being set off in the street with crowds well into the hundreds gathering around and drums beating in the background. Then, on the port side, fireworks that would rival any 4th of July display erupted behind us. We stood watching in amazement for about 30 minutes before the festivities – at least the big fireworks display – ceased. The street sparklers had moved one street over and were still going strong. This all happened around 11pm, and yet the streets still looked like this:
It may not look like much here, but I swear there were more people than at Times Square. People were everywhere.
Once we returned to the hotel, I tried to capture the city lights.
It’s hard to make out in this smaller version, but in the larger version you can see the Columbus statue on the left. Beautiful.
After a long two days of travelling and taking in our first sights of Europe, we finally went to bed just before midnight.