Upon arrival at Barcelona we quickly moved through passport control and customs. I was a bit fearful as we headed (with our 7 large bags â€“ I thought we were moving) to the taxi stand. I had encouraged Suzanne to arrange for transportation to the apartment ahead of time. I was a bit worried about finding a taxi large enough for our luggage. My fears were unwarranted though a there was one minivan amongst the sea of taxis at the Barcelona airport and we quickly commandeered it for our service.
The driver didnâ€™t speak much English but between his broken English and our broken Spanish (he clearly spoke Catalan) we managed to get where we wanted to go across. He punched it into his GPS system and we were off. We called the guy we were renting the apartment from who was already at the apartment waiting for us. About a 25 minute taxi ride (cost about $30 Euros) and we were there.
Carlos was very warm and nice. The apartment was on the fourth floor with no lift. Carlos helped us carry our luggage up the very narrow, circular stairwell. The apartment looked exactly like all the pictures we had seen on the internet â€“ not luxurious but nice. Carlos spent about 30 minutes with us showing us how everything worked and going over a map showing where various items (such as grocery store, restaurants, etc) were located. He was very pleasant and accommodating to us. He listed is apartment for rent in Vacation Rentals by Owner â€“ VRBO (vrbo.com). Thus far, the apartment rental has turned out to be a very pleasant experience and different/better than your standard hotel.
Soon after settling into the apartment we headed out for some sight seeing. Barcelona, like most of Europe, operates on a different schedule than the US. Lunch usually is sometime between 2 and 5 pm while dinner is enjoyed between 8 and 11 pm. Suzanne usually acts as our tour guide as she spends many man months researching the trip.
She had a few issues getting her bearings straight and we ended up seeing a few different things than planned, but items that were still on our list. First stop was the Barcelona Cathedral. It was a very large, old church.
We wandered through the very large Boqueria market. Itâ€™s probably the largest farmers market I have seen. There was produce, seafood and meat for sale. The items for sale all looked extremely fresh and very nicely displayed. I would love to shop at a market like that for all my needs.
We also toured the Barcelona City Museum. The highlight of the museum was the Roman ruins that you were able to walk around and see though it got a bit repetitive. We also walked the Ramblas for a while and went to the top of the Christopher Columbus tower for a nice high view of Barcelona. Despite it costing a bit more than I would have liked, it was the highlight of the first dayâ€™s tour for me. We walked back to our apartment about 6 pm along the harbor and marina. All in all, we must have walked 4 miles or more â€“ a great way to lessen any jet lag impacts.
For lunch, we had grabbed a bite at one of the local Tapas restaurants. They had a nice selection and it was very enjoyable. Suzanne and I enjoyed a half sized bottle of wine with the Tapas.
For dinner, we wanted to eat at one of the local restaurants and sample the local fare. We were starting to get a bit tired from the long trip and first day activities and were struggling staying awake for the late dinner. Sean grabbed about a 90 nap while Savannah and I went for a walk to scout the local restaurants.
About 7:30 we went and found a nice looking restaurant that served Paella amongst other items. It turns out the restaurant was a Chilean restaurant but the food was very, very good. As a starter, they served us these wonderful little biscuits that you put a pico sauce on. It was one of the best picos that I have ever had and will certainly spend some time trying to recreate.
Suzanne and Savannah both had Paella â€“ Suzanne a seafood one and Savannah a chicken one. Sean had Langoustines in a spicy Chilean sauce while I enjoyed what was termed a very unique Chilean dish â€“ a Veal sirloin steak with fried onions and an over easy egg. It was absolutely delicious. We enjoyed a bottle of Chilean wine with our dinner. For dessert, we all split a Chilean version of CrÃ¨me Brulee. I still think mine is the best I have ever had. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and we had a great time to talking to the staff. We liked working on our Spanish and they enjoyed working on their English. We are contemplating going back again because of the overall enjoyment, but may opt to try other restaurants just to be different.
After dinner, we returned to the apartment and eventually turned in for the night about 10:00 pm.