Sunday, August 21, 2016

Barcelona: Sit Back and Relax (City Tour, La Boqueria Mercat, Sagrada Familia, Montjuic)

Aaaahh….Friday. It’s Day 4 in Barcelona, and 10th day of our vacation. We decided to change things up a bit today. As I have previously mentioned, we’ve been nonstop considering that we have 2 little kids with us. Caitlin and Evan have been great to travel with. They’ve been truly “going along for the ride.” Not gonna lie to you, they would rather stay in the hotel and lounge, but there’s an adventurous side to them as well that they’re embracing all of these new experience. 

Nancy suggested that we do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. I was actually not that thrilled. For me, I like the whole experience of taking the subway or the metro, the trams, the local buses. But I had to keep my mind open. I looked in to the details of the bus tour and it looked like we’d be covering a lot of tourist spots by taking this tour. So, tour bus it is then! We purchased our tickets online and printed our tickets.



We were out of the hotel 9:30am, grabbed a quick breakfast at Boheme on Rambla de Poblenou (just a few blocks away from our hotel). Grabbing morning pastries and a shot of espresso has been a thing to do on this vacation. 

We were picked up by the Green line of the Barcelona Turistic Bus near the beach. The tourist bus has 3 routes that take you around the city. The first bus took us close to the Port Olympic  this was one of the popular symbols when the Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992, 24 years ago. 



We then switched over to the Red bus, this bus covered quite a few key tourist areas from Barceloneta, to the Gothic Quarters, to the Cathedral, Placa Catalunya, and the list goes on and on. We sat on top of the double decker and luckily moved our way up front. I had my GoPro with me so I was able to take lots of footage as the bus circled around Barcelona. We found ourselves  getting out of the bus near one of the local markets and decided to cool off by going to one of the local cafes. 

We boarded the bus once more after our little break, and it continued to circle around the city. It passed by more of the sites from the 1992 Olympics - the stadium, the site where they had the diving competition, and it also passed by the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the ports in Barcelona where gigantic cruise ships were docked. It was great to just kick back and relax.

We decided to hop off near the Gothic District. We found our way through the Cathedral and made our way to Las Ramblas. We ended up going to iTapas that afternoon. We sampled their paella, the chicken wings, their meatballs, their soup…there were just too many to mention. While it was normally not our first choice to go to a buffet, this place happened to offer their tapas buffet-style. 




La Boqueria Mercat

A short walk away from iTapas was La Boqueria Mercat. Anyone who has been to Barcelona (locals, tourist, bloggers, or friends) mentioned going to La Boqueria. I had no idea what to expect. I mean, a market is a market. Well, not La Boqueria. It was a feast for the eyes, for the senses. First of all, the moment we walked in, we noticed a guy running fast with a backpack in tow. I could only assume that he stole that backpack. Someone must have left his/her backpack on the ground, and the eyes of a pickpocket caught its attention. Shortly after that, I noticed a few “tourists” carried their backpack in front instead of carrying it on their back.





There was so much to see and eat at La Boqueria. Fruit juices, meat stalls, assortment of seafood fresh catch, sweets, pastries, just about anything that will appeal to anyone’s senses. Part of me regret having tapas prior to my visit to the market. Maybe it was a good thing that I entered the market quite full. Otherwise, I would have done unbelievable gastronomic damage.


Visiting Sagrada Familia
We hopped on the Blue bus that then took us to Sagrada Familia. Unlike our first visit the other day when we just got a glimpse from the outside, we decided to buy tickets to enter the Basilica. Our tickets were scheduled to get us in at 7:15pm. The advice was to either enter early in the morning or later in the afternoon. That’s exactly what we did. While there was still a bit of a crowd, by the time we entered at 7pm, there was no longer a line outside. We didn’t have to wait in a long queue. 


People of different cultures were inside the Sagrada, people of different languages, different faith. For some it was about being there for the religious experience, for others, it was probably out of appreciating the architectural detail of this unfinished basilica that was started in the late 1800s. Of course, others were there out of curiosity. It was a living art form. The carvings, the workmanship, the details, the lighting, the towering height of this basilica, and I was also surprised to see an underground room that seemed like another place to have their mass. Those were my takeaways. 





We got out of the Sagrada Familia by 8pm, and fortunately, there was a tour bus that passed by to pick us up. It was our last chance to get on this bus. We’ve really taken advantage of this Hop On Hop Off bus. This time, the bus went up to Park Guell, also towards Tibidabo, and lots of nice homes up on the hill. It was a warm evening, it was perfect enough for us to stay on top of the bus. It was not even cold.









Montjuic
Somehow Nancy found a way for us to find the nearest stop that would take us Placa Espanya and back towards Montjuic. We were here the other night, the difference though, we were able to catch the Font Magic….or the Magic Fountain show. I didn’t realize how big of a spectacle this was in Barcelona until we saw the thousands of people who watched show. There were rows of regular fountains that led the to bigger main fountain all decked in colorful lights that danced along with the loud music. It was just gorgeous.

And that was it….that was our Friday in Barcelona.






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