Remember when I wrote about having family that came in for Christmas? Well guess what? They just happened to be heading to one of our favorite cities. They emailed us and asked if we wanted to meet up again. Spain for the weekend? Check please!
For some reason, every time we’ve flown out of Frankfurt International, we’ve always squeaked by with the time. Luckily, we made it with 30 minutes to spare, rather than the 7 minutes the last time we flew to Barcelona. At least this time we didn’t have to run to our gate. Totally a win.
Trip Win/Fail #1: You can pre-game your flight at the Frankfurt airport. They sell beer at the kiosks in the middle of the terminals, which you can just take with you.While we waited to board our flight (which actually ended up being almost 30 minutes late), we noticed a gaggle of men gathering around; including a soon-to-be groom in a Tigger costume. We heard the distinct clinking of glass. Husband joked that these fine fellas would probably end up sitting next to us. He would have made the Psychic Network proud; the bachelor party was seated right next to us.
As we climbed into the sky, these gentlemen were dispersed throughout the cabin. I’m guessing they mistook the airplane for a karaoke bar–they started singing at the top of their lungs. We were serenaded with a drunken medley of The Beatles, Phil Collins and a lovely slurred version of Gloria Estefan. In the states, most folks would have been cut-off at a certain point. Here, the flight attendants didn’t bat an eye when guys brought out the remainder of their bottles; in fact, they brought them more. I have to admit, in a weird way, it was refreshing that the rest of the passengers just let them go. You hear about so many air-rage incidences these days. The shenanigans that you can witness when you let things go are purely awesome.
When we arrived to the airport, Cousin and his family (AK, Roo and LP), were kind enough to meet us at the airport. They had taken the train from Sitges to Barcelona, so we were planning on taking the train back. Nope. The transit workers decided to go on strike and we would have to take the Mon-Bus back to Sitges. The price was a little steep. It cost the same as it would a 10-journey pass on the metro. But honestly, we knew (and they knew) that we didn’t have any other real option. We paid the driver and headed to Sitges.
Sitges is a beautiful little town approximately 20 minutes southwest of Barcelona. It sits right on the coastline of the Mediterranean. When we arrived,the first thing we heard was the crashing of the waves. We walked over to their apartment, which had a lovely view of the water. We dropped our bags and decided to walk along the sea wall to the restaurant area. When we arrived, we found a vast array of choices: seafood, Argentine, Italian, Mexican (I always love seeing Mexican food in Spain), and a few more. We looked at the menu and decided to go for the Argentine restaurant.
Trip Win #2: Buenos Aires Grill is one of my favorite foodie places we’ve been to. We were seated and were given three different menus: one for Argentine fare, one for Italian and one for Sushi. All three restaurants are owned by the same family, so you can pretty much get whatever you want. We chose empanadas to start, a huge steak skewer (this thing is seriously bigger than your head) and white truffle risotto. It was fantastic. I highly, highly recommend! The sangria was one of the best sangrias that I have thus far. Bananas + Sangria = whoa.
Since we had stayed up a little late talking and catching up, our slumber party didn’t start moving until later in the morning. Husband had every intention of waking up to catch the sunrise, but I think he was one of the last to move. It was okay though, the day was gray and cloudy. Compared to the harshness of the weather in Deutschland as of late (snow, rain, wind, snow, rain, wind), it was borderline warm. My cousins hadn’t yet been into the city, so we decided to take our chances and hop on the train into Barcelona. Thankfully, the transit gods had ruled in our favor and the trains were running their regular intervals.
The train ride was only about 25 minutes or so. Husband looked at the map and decided that we should give them just a brief and basic view to get them started. We got off at the Passieg de Gracia station and decided to walk toward Plaça de Catalunya. We began walking and noticed a large crowd in the middle of the street. Immediately, our spidey senses began tingling. One of the rules of being an American living overseas (aside from doing your best to blend in by not looking too obvious that you’re trying to blend in), is that you should really do your best to avoid large crowds and gatherings. We moved away from the crowd, but out of curiosity, we wanted to see what was what. It was a protest for the refugee crisis that is happening. Not anti-refugee, but more of a “let’s-welcome-them-to-the-EU-war-is-bad-peace-is-good” protest.
About this time, the kiddos were starting to get hungry. Roo is a lot like Girl Child when it comes to their selective palates (meaning super picky eaters), so we sold out and went to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. After our fill of Americana, Husband and Cousin decided to let the kids roam around the plaza for a bit, while Roo, AK and I did a little shopping. You see, when you’re overseas, you start to miss the simple things: free public toilets, Target, bright colors) For me, finding the brand of makeup I wear is hard over here. Sephora to the rescue! Thank you, makeup superstore, for carrying the brand that I wear and for expanding outside of the US. My co-workers will probably appreciate the fact that I won’t look like an extra from the set of ‘The Walking Dead’ at work.
As we were shopping, the kids (both big and small), discovered the joys of
tormenting chasing and feeding the local wildlife (pigeons). When we had spent our small Euro on birdseed, we decided to walk further down on La Rambla. We stopped by a few of the pop up shops that line the street. Husband bought a Catalan flag, Boy Child bought a FC Barcelona scarf to add to his collection and Girl Child managed to knock over a rack of keychains. After apologizing to the shopkeeper, we looked across the street and discovered we were right across from Mercado de La Boqueria. La Boqueria is one of the largest and well-known markets in Barcelona. We went inside and were immediately swallowed up by the crowd. We bought a few chocolate covered strawberry skewers and then hightailed it out of there.
The day was fading, as were we, so we headed back to Sitges. We got off the train and decided to walk through the downtown area, only to be caught in another downpour (thanks, Mom Nature–you little minx). Since we were all pretty wiped, we decided on take-out pizza for dinner. There was a break in the rain, so AK and Boy Child walked over to the nearest pizzeria to get dinner. Not even 5 minutes after they left, there were was a huge clap of thunder that shook all of the windows in the apartment. When AK and Boy Child came back, they were drenched–but they managed to save the pizzas!
We are now 0 for 2 on the sunrise count. Husband and Cousin headed to the local bakery and scored some delicious pastries for breakfast. I was surprised by the vast selection and even more so that the bakery was open on a Sunday! The clouds finally broke open and the blue skies reappeared. We walked down to the beach and spent a good two and a half hours there. Feeling the warmth of the sun, the sand in my toes, seeing the waves crashing and spending time with my cousins had such healing effect on my soul. I miss seeing the sun in the winter, so I was going to soak it up as much I could. The kiddos spent their time making castles, volcanos and collecting seashells.
We had to head back to the apartment to pack up our stuff and try to wash as much sand off as we could. Pretty sure the other passengers on the plane wouldn’t appreciate a seat full of sand–then again, you never know. We chatted and munched on some fresh bread and baguettes for lunch. Here’s a tip: unsalted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt on top is amazeballs. We walked to the train station, said our goodbyes and headed back to the airport.
Trip Fail #2: Worst. Flight. Ever.
We’ve done a lot of flying. We’ve probably kept a few of the airlines afloat with the amount of times we fly. We’ve done many transoceanic flights, as well as shorter domestic flights. I will say, the flight back to Frankfurt ranks right among my top least-favorite flights. We were seated in the back of the plane and it started almost immediately after take-off. No, not a gassy passenger. Turbulence. The entire flight from take-off to landing was bumpy. So much so that the pilot had to drop the altitude and slow the speed to try and find a slightly comfortable ride. There were a lot of air pockets, shaking and shimmying (I feel like I just described a Jazzercise class right there). Boy Child asked me at one point if this was normal. I did my best to reassure him, but I think I’ve seen one too many episodes of “Lost”.
We didn’t get a chance to visit all of Sitges, but we spent a lot of quality time with our family. This visit helped cement how awesome Spain is and how I could keep coming back again and again.