Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spain, Day 1

Welcome back MartyandLyle followers!  We've been encouraged to return to blogging for our current adventure.  Hola from Espana!

After our usual whirlwind of preparation, we headed straight from the office to the airport, made a few last minute business calls, and caught a (thankfully direct) flight to Barcelona.  
There was a slight weather delay due to weather, but nothing like the debacle from London.  After the last couple of weeks, sleeping on the plane was no problem at all, and Lyle reports that while I was asleep, he was able to enjoy the free beer offered on international flights.  We had an extremely uneventful trip through customs and easily caught a cab to the hotel.  My sister and one of my brothers are joining us on this trip, and as it was still too early to check-in, we just hung out in the lobby and waited on them.  Their room *was* ready, so we all went up there to leave our bags and get ready for the day.

The four of us headed out this morning to just walk around the city and get a feel for it.  Barcelona smells like NYC.  I say this as someone who loves NYC, but still, it's not necessarily the first thing I mention when recommending it to people.  We found our way over to La Rambla - a former sewer turned pedestrian mall - which is a big landmark and kinda a good way to get a feel for the city.  It's notorious for pickpockets and sex workers, but we were fortunate to avoid all that.  

The Barcelona Pride parade was today, and we enjoyed seeing several of the attendees who'd apparently done a Color Run earlier and were completely covered in a rainbow of paint.  We decided to avoid the parade itself though we saw some floats from a distance.

It's hot at home, but I guess we are spoiled by the air conditioning, because the heat was getting to all of us this afternoon.  The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca is quoted as saying La Rambla was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end."  Well I can attest that we did not all share that perspective by the afternoon.  We stopped in La Boqueria to appreciate the sights and (some of the) smells of this fabulous market and picked up some empanadas and water to take back to the hotel (and its glorious air conditioning) for lunch.  By this point we were sweaty, jet-lagged, and a little footsore and after lunch we were very appreciative of the Spanish tradition of siesta.

After the much needed naps, we were feeling refreshed and motivated to head back out, so we got a cab over to the Picasso museum and got the audio guides there.  Rebecca says she left the museum with a much greater appreciation of his work.  I enjoyed seeing so much of his work together, and especially seeing some of the studies he did to prepare for his bigger works.  I think too, that seeing a lot of his early (more naturalistic) stuff really helped give perspective to all the amazing Cubism later on. We only had about an hour at the museum before they closed.  Two might have been better, but I feel like we saw everything there was to see, even if we maybe didn't have as much time with each piece as we might have liked.

Once we'd closed down the museum we wandered around for a bit and found our way to an outdoor cafe for tapas and drinks.  Maybe we were just hungry, but the food was SO GOOD!  We had some amazing jamon thing (Spanish ham from grain fed pigs), chorizo, a ham and cheese croquet a (for the less adventurous eater of the group), and some octopus dish that the more adventurous eaters swore was the best thing they had ever eaten.  We definitely got the stink eye for not contributing when the wandering musicians passed the hat, but we survived not only that but also managed to resist roses from the guy desperate to get us to buy those.

When we were done with our drinks we wandered around some more and found the Parc de la Ciutadella, a park that seemed to be pretty well frequented by the locals.  We especially enjoyed the Cascada, a fountain designed by Fontsere and his student Antoni Gaudi.  We're going to see lots more of Gaudi's work tomorrow.  However, by far the highlight of the park was the awesome mammoth statue.  Much hilarity ensued by the three of us attempting to pose for pictures here while Lyle kept a safe distance and took pictures.

When we'd finally gotten done playing by the mammoth, and after we'd struggled to decipher the iconography
by the fountains and debated the evolutionary commonality of dragons, iguanas, and chameleons, we made our way back to the hotel via the Arc de Triomf.  The arch was built for the 1888 World Fair, a fact I was forced to confirm via Wikipedia because my siblings were busy inventing numerous false histories for me.

Tomorrow we have a guide lined up, so I trust this strategy of theirs will be less successful.  Lots more about Barcelona then!

MartyandLyle (and Rebecca and Rob)

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