The trip had been in the works for 2 years. Although we were dreading leaving our kids, we have had so many amazing experiences in Europe, so to say we were looking forward to our 15 days in Spain is an understatement. Steve speaks Spanish so we were so excited to completely dive into the culture! The trip was set to start in Barcelona for three days.
Barcelona was gorgeous! So clean, so irresistible and the people were so incredibly gracious. We immediately fell in love! We stayed in a little studio apartment in the charming Gothic Quarter. It was located on the 7th floor of an old apartment building with no elevator so poor Steve had to carry our 2 huge bags up the steep, winding, marble stairs. But what awaited us on that top floor was the cutest, quintessential Barcelona apartment with two balconies that overlooked long alleyways that met at Plaza Regomir. Most every balcony we looked onto in the neighboring buildings had the striped Catalonian flag which we quickly learned was the pride of Barcelona. With all of the unknown political turmoil there, we mistaked a large gold awareness ribbon hanging from a government building for childhood cancer awareness; a #hayeshint, Hayes had followed us to Spain!
The first night was magical. We wandered the streets, discovered the large cathedral and sat on the steps leading up to the entrance. Being that it sat on a main square, the people watching was awesome!
Another beautiful discovery in Barcelona was that Coke Zero is the drink of choice there. The joy that that freezing cold drink brought to our lips was pretty much a high light. We are addicted, but I digress! As far as food though….hate to say it, but I never found a love for Spanish cuisine! Am I the worst?!
That first night as we walked back towards our apartment, we came upon a crowd near Carrer del Bisbe, watching a few street musicians that were singing opera. The night sky was covered in stars and the street lamps reflected off of the cobblestone streets. It was like the old brick buildings were the perfect acoustics for music! It was so beautiful. Seeing these young artists singing with so much pride in the music that had been passed down for generations. It took my breath away. Definitely a night I won’t forget!
The next morning we decided to walk some more….pretty much the theme of our vacations. We immediately made our way toward the Sagrada Familia. A modern cathedral that was designed by Gaudi. It was gorgeous. The windows and the colors….so vibrant. Although it is expensive, if you ever have the option, make sure you tour the interior! It was so different than anything I have seen before and the respect for Gaudi was palpable. Definitely a must.
What isn’t a must? To keep walking and head toward the Park Guell! This is what we did and ended up walking literally 16 miles…for reals up hill. I wanted to cry! As it turns out, maps on a phone make things look a lot closer! So, take a taxi! We finally made it to the park and the view was beautiful. While the architecture of Gaudi isn’t my favorite, I definitely gained a respect for his artistry and it is on display throughout the park. We didn’t pay to go directly up to the mosaic tiled overlook wall, but to be honest, I didn’t feel like we missed out. The tickets were expensive and the line was ridiculous so seeing the walls from a distance was fine with me!
The next day ended up being a highlight of the trip. We arranged to meet a cancer warrior family at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona, the Children’s hospital of Barcelona. We took a taxi up to the hospital and as we got out onto the busy street in front, we heard the broken English of a man saying, “Hey, Mr. Tate!” We looked toward the voice and a man walked up to us and said, “I follow you on Instagram…my son Aron is battling brain cancer.” It was seriously one of those moments that was absolutely not by chance! Carlos talked to us for a half hour about the pain and heart ache he was experiencing with his son. He told us that our story brought him hope…our story, where our sweet baby boy passed away from the cancer monster….our story brought him hope. Blew my mind! It was so beautiful! A true #hayeshint for sure.
Then the day was spent with sweet 6 year old Nerea. She has been battling neuroblastoma and fighting it like a champ. Her mom, Yoli had arranged a tour of the hospital. I was so impressed with the beautiful space. Every detail catered to the children. It was truly a special day. Made my heart happy to connect with this beautiful family clear across the world. While cancer has brought us so much pain, it has also connected us to so many amazing people.
That night Steve checked off one of his bucket list items…going to an FC Barcelona soccer game. We sat right in the heart of the local fans in the end zone. It was so cool! When the game winning goal was shot just 40 feet away, it was icing on the cake!
As our Barcelona days grew to a close, we discovered all the places that are a must. La Boqueria Food market off of La Rambla is a definite must! Fish, fruit, candy….so much color and charm. Then getting a gelato at a little shop on La Rambla and walking to Placa Reial. The square is so unique with its palm trees and large fountain surrounded by benches and restaurants! Really beautiful. One night we went to a Flamenco performance in the square. It was super cool.
Lastly, we took a taxi up to the Barcelona Olympic Park. It was much bigger than I would expect and the view of the city was breath taking. Walking to the museum and the church was really beautiful. There is a gondola that overlooks the entire city that takes you from the Olympic Park all the way down to the boardwalk on the beach. The views are truly amazing.
Barcelona really was amazing. Every street and every corner led us to a new shop or square. By the end of our few days there I knew every street by heart because we walked every square inch of the city. Walking down the shopping quarter and seeing the Casa Batllo. So much to do and see. I highly recommend downloading the “MyTaxi” app though. It is the Taxi Uber of Barcelona and so convenient for those that prefer to drive. That wraps up all things Barcelona. Next post will be the cruise.