So this is how to do Barcelona in 3.5 days with Hoolia – tie your sneakers on tight, here we go:
We crossed over and continued our walk along Las Ramblas and enjoyed seeing the numerous pet rabbits, birds, fish, hamsters, mice and yes, a chicken for sale along the way. Additionally, the street performers kept us engaged for quiet a while. My favorite stop of the day was next – Mercat St. Josep la Boqueria. I’m a sucker for markets – the bright colors of fruit and vegetable stands pop next to the warm and rich colors of the chocolate stands. And of course no market is complete without a smelly fish stand (or a half dozen)!
After a short siesta we went to dinner at Amelie near her neighborhood, aptly named Gracia!
Luckily we got to sleep early on Friday, because Saturday was just as eventful and the night didn’t arrive until early Sunday morning! Waking early we walked down Passeig de San Joan towards the Picasso Museum and passed the Arc de Triunf and many other beautiful architectural delights. The Picasso Museum was really well done (even though we started the exhibit backwards…probably because we were still reeling from the confusion about tickets and age…) and it was impressive to see Pablo’s early works (when he was 15) beside his more distinct, later works. His regard for form, color and light is astonishing. Definitely a must see. We wandered over towards Barri Gotico, and Hoolia was a real trooper by going into the Santa Maria del Mar with me. The structure is magnificent considering it used to back up to the sea. The weather has barely affected the strong church.
Set the alarm for the second day and headed to Montjuic to take a look at the Miro Musuem. Again, surprised by many of Miro’s early works, but wasn’t impressed by the overall collection (except for the giant tapestry) and to add more disappointment was Kiki Smith’s exhibit in half of the museum. I had enough of her in SF! But the views were breathtaking – the entire city lay at our feet. We headed down the slope by way of the Olympic Stadium and stopped to grab a quick bite at one of the bars along the deck…too bad a game wasn’t taking place!
We made our way along the Museo de National de Arte de Cataluyna and into the Plaza Espana. We took the metro from there to the fairytale Park Guell. We spent lots of time wandering around, enjoying the labors of Gaudi’s mosaic palace while listening to a talented violinist and ending on a grassy patch to lay out for an hour! It was easy to forget about the cold weather that was plaguing Boston!
Why wouldn’t my last day be less busy than the rest – because there was still plenty to see! We strolled down Hoolia’s street all the way to Gaudi’s incomplete masterpiece the Sagrada Familia cathedral. The line was expectedly immense, so we decided to enjoy the outside of the structure and then hit the train station to Tibidabo. The short ride on the funicular to the top was impressive, too bad there was a thin layer of smog blanketing the city below. Before we could figure out what do to first, we met an eager, outgoing American traveler who asked us “what’s worth checking out.” Hoolia, being the local, piped up and explained that the church before us had some great views, especially if you go all they way up to that ‘guy, Jesus on top.’ Clearly this time, Hoolia’s English was escaping her! But luckily we let Marc tag along because he was definitely into checking out the inside of the church with me and climbing to the very top to take in the amazing views.
So that’s the abridged version of one of the best girl’s weekends I’ve had in years. Hoolia and I laughed and talked practically every waking minute, sharing stories as if we never missed a beat or had thousands of miles between us only 5 days earlier. She and her friends welcomed me quickly and warmly. I made fast friends and received lots of little life lessons (citizen’s of the world wear tight jeans, bidets are a scarcity in Europe and it seems that The Wire is an international sensation), as well as an endless list of movies to add to my unruly Netflix queue.
I am grateful for friends like Hoolia in my life, so happy to see her thriving in her new surroundings and of course that I was able to enjoy a truly wonderful weekend. Gracias Hoolia!
*and yes, I kept my promise too – 2 boxes of S’more granola bars were delivered safely to Hoolia