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Barcelona, Spain (Part Uno)

Disclaimer: It’s taken me a couple of attempts to figure out how to start this one. Up until now, each place we’ve been to (aside from the Flashback Friday Tokyo blog) has just been an easy peasy day trip. Since this was a Biggie trip, I’ve decided to split it up into a few posts. I hope you’re still hanging with me when it’s all done.

When we moved to our European locale, we each made a list of our must visit places. We compared notes and finally compromised that we would at least hit up each person’s number one spot and would be a biggie. First up? Barcelona. This city has been number one on Boy Child’s must-visit list for as long as I can remember. This kid is a huge FC Barcelona (soccer football team, for those that don’t quite follow the soccer football world) fan. For this kid, actually being able to travel to Barcelona would be the icing on the European cake…mmmmmm, cake…

‘Member in my last post I mentioned that we had decided to forgo Paris for Labor Day weekend because of other circumstances, life being life, yadda yadda yadda? This trip is the reason why. Husband’s parents, Aunty and Uncle were planning on being in Barcelona for a few days prior to jumping on a Mediterranean cruise. While we would have loved to go on a Med cruise, it’s not in our cards at the moment (whomp, whomp–cue sad panda face here). But a few days in Barcelona? Heck yeah, totally doable. When we told the kids, Boy Child was super stoked. I couldn’t tell if Girl Child was more excited about Spain or the fact that she would get to skip two days of school; I’m guessing the latter. Husband’s parents were in cahoots with us–Aunty and Uncle weren’t. We decided it would be more fun to surprise them–which meant radio silence on all social media. Let me just add that I am TERRIBLE at surprises. I am an excellent at coaxing surprises out of people and have a hard time keeping my trap shut if it’s a fun surprise. The fact that we pulled this thing off is nothing short of a miracle, y’all.

Day One:
After running into stau (stau = German for traffic jam) after stau on the autobahn, literally running through the airport in Frankfurt and making it with 7 minutes to spare (and the obligatory pretzel stop), we made it to Barcelona. Husband was a little apprehensive, as the outside of the El Prat airport looks kind of shady. Weeds were coming up through a few cracks on the tarmac and it just looked somewhat neglected. When we walked into the terminal, we were surprised at how pretty it was. We have spent waaaaay too much time in airports (8 hours in St. Louis, anyone?), so we’ve seen it all. This one just has a really cool vibe to it. It was very open and light was pouring in through the windows. The shops wind their way toward baggage claim, but it’s not as in-your-face as other international airports. After we grabbed the bags, we grabbed a taxi and made our way to the hotel. The taxi from El Prat to the Eixample area of Barcelona cost us €30. Super reasonable. The hotel we stayed at, Mercedes Heritage Best Barcelona Apartments (try saying that 10 times in a row) was fantastic. Booking.com? Booking dot YEAH! We had a 2 bedroom, one bath apartment with a kitchen. There is a supermarket around the corner that is really inexpensive (€28 for carbs and beer). If you want a more local, farmers market kind of feel, there’s one right above the supermarket. Like, literally directly on top of it. If you feel declaring a chef’s vacay, then there are plenty of excellent restaurants nearby. The metro station was right around the corner and it was only 1 kilometer from Husband’s parents hotel, so that was another big perk.We dumped the bags and then we were off.

We hit the metro station and purchased 2-day unlimited ride tickets (makes it sound like a carnie ride). They have a lot of different options: 2 day, 3 day, 4 day, 5 day, single rides, 10 rides to share among peeps, etc. For the four of us, it was €56. If you’re planning on hitting up as much as you can in a short amount of time, I would definitely go this route. The metro system is fantastic and really easy to use; especially when it’s pouring down rain outside. We got on the metro and took it over to Camp Nou (a few blocks from the Les Corts metro stop). What’s Camp Nou, you ask? No, it’s not an actual camping spot. It is the home stadium/training facility/place where 12-year-old-FC-Barcelona-fans dream come true of FC Barcelona. From first glance, it doesn’t really look like much. It’s a big, grayish brown concrete stadium. As you get closer, you realize what a behemoth this place is. You can walk around the outside and go inside the team store without paying anything. However, if you want the goods, then pay you must. For the four us, the cost was €80. They gave us the option of paying in Euro or US Dollars, which was nice considering we didn’t have to pay an exchange fee if we paid in dollars. Goooooal!

There's no lineage whatsoever here... #lies
There’s no lineage whatsoever here… #lies
Boy Child in his Wonderland.
Boy Child in his Wonderland.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I figured that you’d walk around, see the pitch (field) from the nosebleed section and then get herded back through the store. I’m happy to report that I was COMPLETELY wrong. You start off going through the museum. It has all of the trophies and cups that they’ve won, including the 3 most recent ones. Then you walk up some more stairs (there’s a theme brewing here) and end up in the upper deck of the stadium. The vantage point is pretty awesome. You get a feel as to what it must be like when they’ve packed the place in for a game. It can hold a whopping 99,354 spectators. After this, you head back inside and down more stairs. It takes you through the visiting team’s locker room (meh) and through another corridor. You head down another set of stairs and hit a long hallway. To the right is a small chapel, and straight ahead are the steps to pitch. You walk up the same set of steps the players do and walk directly on to the pitch. At this point, I thought that Boy Child was about to expire. I don’t know that I’ve seen this kid smile as much as he did when he stepped foot on that turf. After you’ve taken your gazillion and a half photos on the pitch, you head back inside and see the post-game press room. Then you walk back up ALL of those stairs that you just walked down and see the actual press box for the game itself. Then it’s down half of the stairs you JUST huffed and puffed your way up and back into the team store.  We spent a good 3 hours here (the stadium…not the store) and it was ABSOLUTELY worth every.single.penny. I’m not a huge FC Barcelona fan (sacrilege, I know), but even I thought it was pretty awesome.

Walking up the steps of greats.
Walking up the steps of greats.
Yeah. That happened.
Yeah. That happened.

Once we managed to secure a jersey for the Boy Child (hello screaming wallet), we hopped back on the metro to the Catalunya station. Kiddos were starting to get a smidge hangry, so we decided to head to Plaça de Catalunya to find some eats. By this time, the rain had finally stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds. Plaça de Catalunya is a pretty popular area for shopping, tourists, and pigeons.

Pigeons or tourists? You decide.
Pigeons or tourists? You decide.
Found it! Tourist Mecca...
Found it! Tourist Mecca…

It reminded me a lot of a slightly classier version of Union Square in San Francisco. Since Girl Child was getting ready to go on a full hangry rampage, we picked a spot for dinner. Where did we go? No, not some awesome tapas bar or flamenco dance/dinner combo thing. Yes, friends, we COMPLETELY sold out and went to Hard Rock Cafe. If you want to feel like you’re right back in the States, then by all means, hit it up. I hang my head in shame. After dinner, we walked down the street and took a look at the shops. As the sun was starting to set, we noticed that the day was catching up with the kiddos and they were getting tired. We hopped on the metro for a couple of stops and then headed up to the apartment for the rest of the evening.

*SOMEONE* was happy to be a sellout...
*SOMEONE* was happy to be a sellout…

TO BE CONTINUED…

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