We slept in until around 9:30am before heading out to have breakfast at La Boqueria. Still full from last night’s big meal (we had paella as well as a few other tapas that I didn’t mention in my last blog post) we decided to have some fried snacks instead of a full sit-down meal.
There is an abundance of fried goodies at the market so you can’t go wrong with any vendor you choose. We ended up ordering calamari and crab claws from a lady who was just getting ready to open up her booth. She brought out the calamari fresh from the deep fryer and she re-fried our crab claw order. Sounds so healthy right? When on vacation, we throw calories and any diet out the door! ;). Fat kid status 4 life.
After our “breaksnack” we left through the main entrance of the market and took a right on La Rambla. It was a sunny day blue skies and no clouds so it was the perfect day to explore the pier and take pictures of the columbus monument. We saw it the night before so we were excited to see it during the day. It was equally pretty as in the evening but because there isn’t much to do along the pier (but more to do by the beach) we snapped a few photos before trekking to the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter).
We stumbled upon the Barcelona Cathedral (AGAIN!) but this time had the opportunity to go in. The nice thing about [most] churches in European countries that we’ve visited over the years is that admission is almost always free. All of the cathedrals I’ve seen have all had a unique charm to them. I’ve seen my fair share of churches and although I wasn’t too impressed with the inside of the Barcelona Cathedral, the exterior of the gothic church was beautiful.
The the Barri Gotic quarter where the church was located near is absolutely stunning. The historic architecture, narrow streets and brick made this area the most charming.
After walking outside the church, we came across this beautiful gothic bridge. The narrow street was covered in shade which brought out the darkness from the stone walls and brown bricks that truly brought us back in time. It was a quarter til noon and we were getting hungry again. We decided we hadn’t had enough of La Boqueria yet and walked toward the direction of the market. We made a pit stop before lunch at the official FC Barcelona store to pick up a jacket for my brother’s xmas gift and a rain jacket for Anthony.
For lunch we opted for grilled seafood by a restaurant that looked to specialize in it. The majority of their menu options consisted of seafood and on display they had plates of padron peppers and mixed mushrooms (which were in season). Yum! We knew we couldn’t go wrong here as almost all of the patrons already dining had a seafood plate. We raised our fingers for 2 people and were quickly seated by the chef/server.
We ordered the spaghetti frutti di mare & calamarcitos-squids. The spaghetti came out al dente with a generous helping of clams, squid, mussels & shrimp. Although the pasta was a little bland, we shyly asked the chef for some salt and it ended up being absolutely delicious with the extra touch. The seafood was fresh, pasta perfectly chewy with a very nice seafood and wine sauce.
The squid plate came after the pasta and it was grilled to perfection. Served on a bed of potato fries (not the crunchy kind) and drizzled with generous amounts of olive oil and a parsley pesto it was DIVINE. The squid wasn’t too chewy but had the perfect tenderness to it where it was almost soft & moist. It was the best I’ve ever had. My husband is picky with his seafood but he love love loved our meal here. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the vendor but they are located right inside La Boqueria. I HIGHLY recommend this place. I will be coming back should I return to Barcelona in the future.
After lunch we took out the map provided in my Rick Steves’ copy of the Pocket Barcelona book to decide what area we wanted to explore. Prior to the trip, I did more research on Paris than Barcelona. I wanted to end the trip with more of a “go with the flow” type vibe so I left our Barcelona itinerary open ended.
Before our trip we had talked to some of our regulars about Barcelona and a lot of them mentioned an architect named Antoni Gaudi. They said his works were must sees. We decided to check out the Eixample area which is where one of Gaudi’s famous works was located, Casa Batllo.
We took our time and made stops along the way to check out some more boutiques and shops located near Placa de Catalunya. At one point we stopped to take a seat by the fountain steps to enjoy the sunshine and people watch. I remember sitting in the square and talking to Anthony about how we lucked out on the weather. It seems every year we go somewhere, I always worry about the weather not cooperating. I don’t mind rain one bit but rain everyday from the beginning to end of a vacay would not be favorable…. In the last 3 int’l trips we’ve gone on together and I’m talking 35-40 days worth, the only “bad” weather days I recall =
Florence: ~10 degrees. FREEZING & windy but try. We were absolutely unprepared and both had free run tennis shoes on which was the worst mistake possible.
Brussels: ~50 degrees. Pouring & gray. Brussels was beautiful in the rain although it would have been nice to enjoy our belgian frites outside.
Amsterdam: ~50 degrees. Severe wind & cold when we got right out of the train station and then a drizzle on & off.
Anyway, I just felt so blessed and lucky to have good weather. Paris was sunny and was on the chillier side. Barcelona was warm enough for Anthony to wear t-shirts (it seemed as if he was the only one in the entire city….) and for me to roam around with a thin jacket on. I couldn’t have asked for better. I suppose I just had a “moment” at those steps.
Our break felt nice and after both of our faces started to turn pink, we continued on toward Casa Batllo. We passed by a Mcdonald’s and of course we stopped in for another “snack.” Anthony has this thing where he likes to try McD’s in different countries. He also loves Mcd’s in general so it’s really his excuse to stop by.
We ordered a happy meal and got a boys toy for him. I can report that it tasted just like what you’d get here in the US. The McD’s fries in Paris had this funky after taste to them and wouldn’t recommend anyone to order it. Just sayin….
Around 3:30pm we FINALLY made it to Casa Batllo. Upon looking at the “House of Batllo” from the exterior it had some unique characteristics. Up close the house looked like it had a layer of colorful fish scales attached to the walls not inclusive of the windows and balconies. From afar it looked like it was made of hundreds of bones and the lines of the house were wavy and non-symmetrical.
Upon entering, as we walked up the “skeleton” or “spinal cord” steps, we learned that Antoni Gaudi compiled his inspiration from nature/animals/oceans and even his childhood for his works. Looking on the ceiling we saw what looked like reptile skins, some of his chandeliers looked like jelly fish and a fireplace like a mushroom cutout. He had little details all around the house from the stairway, to the stained glass windows, the many light fixtures and even pillars. I will spare the details as most of what I saw in the house and what you will see if you go is subjective. It was the most creative work I’ve ever seen and it was fun imagining what things were.
One of my favorite things in the house was what we saw as we took the many flights of stairs leading to the rooftop. As you look up while walking the many flights of stairs you see different shades of blue representing a body of water. If you look closely you can see ripples through the entire “corridor”. The light shining through the different shades from the stained glass and walls gave it the waves effect. Words cannot describe the beauty, splendor & creativity of this place. It was spectacular and hard to believe one man could envision all of this.
After a mind boggling and FUN afternoon exploring Casa Batllo we stopped by the huge Carrefour market along La Rambla near the hotel to pick up some things for a light dinner since we weren’t too hungry. We picked up some wine, chips, jambon iberico and some other goodies.