Exploring Barcelona, Day 1



Saturday. After a late wake up due to the "Adventures in getting my daughter to go sleep" episode, we started off our first day. You’d think we would have been spending the day touring throughout this beautiful city. Fat chance, instead we spent the first half stuck in a mall :(, namely, the Diagonal Del Mar, which happens to be one of the largest in Barcelona. And when I say huge, I mean huge. This thing is like an entire city block, and three floors to boot! The mall is high-end, which is nice because you get to see more than your normal run-of-the-mill set of stores. One thing about Barcelonans, they are serious about fashion. Even the "average joe" makes some of us in the states look like stragglers. They must have good jobs because none of the clothes are cheap.

Anyway, the first part of the "journey" was good. We went to a local restaurant and had a bite to each. I had the spanish equivalent of Steak and Eggs, which was Steak and Veal. My daughter had her old time favorite "burger" as did my wife. The prices didn’t seem too bad, however you quickly realize that due to the exchange rate of 1.5 dollars per Euro, not too bad is still bad. Much better than London with an exchange rate of 2 dollars+ per GBP and where not too bad is actually awful and where bad is I need to sell some stock or pull from the savings 🙂

During the second part of the mall trip we basically we wanted to get some essentials and some food for our stay. It’s easy to pour on the calories when you are traveling and eating out, so filling up your fridge with yogurt, cereal, etc gives you more changes to eat in. And if we wanted Yogurt, we sure came to the right place. I have never seen so much yogurt in my life as I did in the market there. A full aisle wall to wall.

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It took forever to get out of that place! There were so many people, that it brought to memory less than fond memories of standing in line at Costco. It was literally insane! By the end I was pretty down for wasting a full day in the mall. I was just imagining this post.

Next we headed off to the play area to let my daughter get off some steam. Now that was fun. They’ve got this awesome aquarium / Nemo like play structure. If you come to Barcelona and have kids, I really advise you check it out.My daughter loved it and we got a few minutes to relax. Well kind of, there were so many kids and parents there that you were a little on edge worried about losing your kid. But, it was tons of fun for Sumee (her nickname) and she didn’t want to leave.

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Finally we were out of the mall and on to better things (hopefully). We headed back to the hotel, freshened up and then decided due to the loss of time we would make it a late night. We hopped on the rail and headed down to Plaça de Catalunya to grab some eats and do some exploring. The rail is very convenient. One thing I love about San Francisco, New York, London and Barcelona that I don’t love about Seattle is that they have great public transportation. You can get to practically anywhere you want to go simply by hopping a bus or a train. In Seattle, you can get to wherever you want to go if you are willing to drive and sit in a lot of traffic.

The transportation in Barcelona is quite nice. The busses are really clean and spacious leaving you plenty of leg room. The only thing I don’t like is that fact that there is smoking everywhere, including in some cases on the bus. As an ex-smoker, I can’t tell you how distasteful it is having to sit around a lot of smokers. It has nothing to do with being tempted to smoke, I am long over that. It’s the awful smell (and the fact that I am an asthmatic). Last time I was in Barcelona, I was shocked when I saw someone lighting up on the bus.

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Plaça de Catalunya is a real sight to see. It’s one of several large squares in Barcelona. It has a beautiful water fountain in the center and is surrounded by stores and restaurants, one of which is El Corte Ingles. I know I said Diagonal Del Mar, but imagine a department store that is 12 stories (and not small stories I might add). El Corte Ingles has everything you can imagine. It’s also high end, so make sure you save your pennies before visiting. I really like the Placa because it’s a place that’s very different than the kinds of places you have in the states. The architecture surrounding is also beautiful consisting of a mixture of old (ancient) and new, including the works of Antonio Gaudi.

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Next we headed on to walk around and get some food. We were close to the famed Las Ramblas so we made that our destination. Las Ramblas is a busy cenrral street through Barcelona that has tons of restaurants and clubs, bars and small shops. There’s also a lot of street vendors and plenty of street entertainment which makes it a worthwhile visit. You could spend hours there just walking around, and people watching. There’s plenty of people out there in to the late hours of the night which is another big plus. We finally found a quaint restaurant called Egipte where we had an assortment of tapas and a delicious Catalan chicken entree. Sumee was tired from a long day, and fell out in Mommy’s lap.

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After dinner we cut off down one of the many side streets. We ended up in the Barri Gottic (Gothic Quarter) which contains the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. Aside from the Cathedral’s size (several city blocks), it’s very old 1000+ years, it is an awe-inspiring experience. A bit of trivia here that I learned on my last trip here. Some people think the Segrada Famila is actually a Cathedral. It’s not. In any one province, there can only be one Cathedral and the Santa Eulalia is it. The Segrada Familia is actually a temple.

We continued on and found our way to one the other great things Barcelona has of offer, Gelato……

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Many flavors to choose from, and more importantly a lot of fun for my little girl (and Daddy too) which as you can see was having a ball.

Finally, we headed off to walk down by the coast and settled at a nice outdoor Cafe where we grabbed some midnight espresso.

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A full day indeed, and fortunately we got to see something other than the mall! The other big plus was I actually did no work.

Next, back to the hotel and on to bed. It sounds like a happy ending, but it wasn’t. Let’s just say at around 4am, Sumeya was finally sleeping 😉

Glenn Block

Sr. Program Manager, Azure

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