fBarcelona will always be special to us – our oldest proposed to his girlfriend in front of la Sagrada Familia, and she said yes! If you declare your love and intentions there, you have to mean it!
It was a fast and furious two days – just a small bit of the city.
Of course, we started at Sagrada Familia, cuz you HAVE to do that. We booked our tickets several weeks ahead of time and arrived about an hour before our tour time to take pictures of the outside – and get engaged, of course. The exterior is, as expected, overwhelming.
I was afraid to go inside: with all of that going on, how on earth do you concentrate on God? But the inside was relatively much more calm than the outside. And is Gaudi’s design any more distracting than those of medieval churches would have been to their worshipers? Beautiful. And it will require several more visits to even begin to understand the layers of beauty.
Unlike for Sagrada Familia, we didn’t know we needed to get tickets for Park Guell. So, after tramping uphill to the entrance (we weren’t near the escalator end), we were denied entrance to the “fancy” part of the park and were limited to the open admission area. Husband and I sat and people-watched while the Newly Engaged toured the park. Next time, tickets ahead of time and start at the right end (with the escalator).
The food was awesome. Just around the corner from our apartment was Peix D’OR, where we got to pick our own fish for dinner. The woman manning the counter thought we didn’t know how it worked, but quickly realized we were just having a hard time deciding on what we wanted. The fish arrived perfectly grilled and covered with the best pesto I’ve ever tasted. YUM!
We had a lovely brunch at Firebug with the young set.
A visit to the aquarium – always a favorite activity!
Our most interesting sight: the Mercadona in our neighborhood. We entered to a foyer and check-out area much larger than our local Mercadona in Alicante. Followed the signs to an elevator lobby: the actual grocery store was in the basement! WHAT?!?! Huge, nice store, but you had to deal with the elevator to get back up to check-out with your groceries. Too weird.
I love the Madrid tourist bus. I do get tired of the tedious comments about architecture, but the views are marvelous. For the best photos, sit on the left-hand side of the bus.
We were very excited to arrive at Mercado San Miguel before the tourists. At 10:00 we had the place pretty much to ourselves and were able to explore and sample to our hearts’ content.
We dutifully booked our Prado tickets online, including one combo ticket that included the guidebook – a bargain if you are a collector of guidebooks, as my teacher friends tend to be. The Prado is overwhelming, so you need a plan before you go. We didn’t have one, so we ended up focusing on the 50 masterpieces. We took a break between floors for a cold drink, which helped. Still, we barely scratched the surface.
After the Prado, we headed back toward our hotel and encountered a surprise parade. It was the day of the Feast of the Virgin of St. Carmen, but I don’t know if this was that…
The Royal Palace was beautiful. I think I can get much more out of it next visit, after I’ve had time to process a bit and read up on my Spanish history. You can’t take photos inside, which doesn’t stop many tourists, but I’m a rule follower in those regards.
We’re slowly chipping away at all that Madrid has to offer. So, until next time…
We trained from Granada to Cordoba – well, sort of. The first leg of the journey was via bus, since the tracks were under construction. The Granada train station is also under renovation, so we had to tow our luggage a couple of blocks away to have breakfast while we waited for our not-train bus to arrive and begin loading.
Upon arriving in Cordoba, we took a taxi to our hotel: the NH Amistad. We love Cordoba, and we love this hotel. It’s just inside the wall in old town, with an entrance outside the wall and parking in a lot underneath the wall. I expected our taxi to drop us off outside the wall, but he turned the corner into old town and made his way through the narrow streets to drop us off in front of the hotel.
There’s no way to make sense of the old town and Jewish quarter, so it’s best to just roam and let yourself get lost. You’ll find a familiar landmark eventually. And in the meantime you’ll discover lovely gardens and shops and cafes.
We headed to the Mezquita for the afternoon. Just inside the entry, an area was roped off for excavation. We couldn’t tell what was going on exactly, but I assume the work is ongoing at such an important site.
This second trip to the Mezquita, I found it easier to understand the expansions that occurred over the years. It stirs my soul to know that so many people of different faiths have managed to worship there over the centuries.