¡Hola! What a week! So many exciting things to write about! First off, we were able to finally meet the Vandebunte’s! Luke and Stacy are another Deloitte couple whom we’ve been in contact with via Facebook for almost 6 months now, and they finally made their move over to England. We were so excited to meet them, and can’t wait to share this London adventure with them! We have a mutual friend, Steven, back home…so we are trying to get him to come visit the four of us 🙂
Tuesday and Wednesday were whirlwinds for me as I was set off on a German tour of some properties I am working on. I started off in Munich, made my way via train to Stuttgart then Frankfurt, and eventually made my way to a small village north of Frankfurt. I was able to spend one evening wandering around the Christmas market in Frankfurt. It made me even more excited to go to the Munich markets with Dan for Christmas!
Monday night, Dan and I were starting to plan our weekend and decided it had been awhile since we had gotten away – so we were able to find a great weekend holiday deal to BARCELONA! So Friday after work, we hopped on a plane and away we went!
Barcelona surprised us with how quiet it was. It’s winter/down time there, so the tourist scene is very quiet. I think we are so used to London now, we thought it was a quiet/small city! It was nice having a quieter/slower pace for a few days, as both Dan and I weren’t feeling our best.
Saturday the weather wasn’t the best – about 50 degrees F and very overcast. We started our day off with a run along the beach. I can easily see how this is a hot spot in the summer months – I can imagine it would be beautiful! The marina’s along the water are amazing!
We then did a 2-day hop on/hop off bus tour. We love seeing the city this way. Easy/quick way to get around town! Here are some of the sites we saw on our first day:
My favourite thing we visited was the La Boqueria Food Market! It was amazing – one of the best market’s I’ve been to. The market dates back to 1217, which is crazy to me. The stalls feature tons of fresh exotic fruits and veggies, seafood, sweets and of course – Jamón! Cured, amazing ham! We ate so much Jamón! We even went to a Jamón “experience” store and had some of the best/rarest (and super expensive at €300/kg) packaged up to bring home! Don’t worry, we didn’t spend €300 – we only got a tiny portion and we’re saving it for a special occasion 🙂
For dinner, we headed over to El National. I got some recommendations for restaurants from Mei Lin – the Top Chef season 12 winner. I was able to meet her back in Michigan for a Top Chef dinner at the Root, and I’ve followed her ever since. She was in Barcelona this past week – so I thought I’d shoot her a message, and she replied with some great suggestions!
El National was really cool. It’s HUGE – a big warehouse divided into different sub-restaurants. A steak brasserie, a seafood place, a few bars, and a tapas restaurant. We settled on the tapas one! The concept was unique: you order any cold tapas you’d like from the menu, and then wait for the hot ones. A server will come out of the kitchen with a tray with a type of tapas and he’d yell out what he had. If you want it – you have to be fast and raise your hand and it’s yours! They’d bring out anywhere from 1 – 5 servings, so you have to be quick! It took us awhile to understand how it worked – but once we got it – we loved it! We were able to try some fun things – and most of the time had no idea what it was, as everything was in Catalan!
After dinner, we walked around the city. It’s so beautiful at night – and the Christmas decorations make it even more beautiful!
Day 2: we finished up our bus tour. The weather was much better – the sun was out for most of the day! Here are photos from our 2nd day:
Another highlight of our trip was this little beer bar that we stumbled on. Turns out – it was one of the best beer bar’s we’ve ever been too! Their selection of draft and bottle beers was unbelievable. They even had Cantillion (sour beer from Belgium – very hard to find!)! The best part – they had FOUNDERS! Can you believe it? 2 beers on tap from Grand Rapids, MI and bottles of KBS and Blushing Monk! AND – they had a Founder’s tap takeover 2 weeks ago! The bartender thought it was awesome that we were from where Founder’s is. It was such an amazing find – we went back again! It was a nice change from the cask ales in England.
Overall, Barcelona was great! I definitely would want to go back during the summer season as it was hard to get a real good grasp of the culture as it was really quiet during the Winter.
Next stop: Christmas trip to Munich & Innsbruck!
More yummy food!