A Travellerspoint blog

Food and other things I noticed

So, the Spaniards or should I call them Catalonians as they prefer to be called, love two things, sugar and salt.

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And in abundance. Every morning part of our hotel package included a breakfast. It started with of course juice, coffee and a basket of pastries (see picture) then you can order off of the menu mostly crepes, waffles and eggs, which was too salty for my liking. John didn't mind, he loves his food more salted than I do.

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Today I ordered yogurt with fruit. Out came this adorable little bottle of yogurt topped with some minuscule chopped fruit. It was so cute I had to take a picture.

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On most menus all we saw was the same: Jamon (ham), paella, burgers and fries. They also love bread similar to focaccia bread with smeared tomatoes. Not marinara, more like blanched tomato then you spread it thinly on the bread. John wasn't a fan, but I liked it. Personally I wasn't impressed with the paella. Maybe different regions of Spain make it differently. It was pretty plain jane. Just calamari and shrimp. No chorizo or chicken in it. Oh well...
The pastry shops are out of this world, and of course they have one on every corner. I was dying to try their hot chocolate cause it's more like hot fudge, but we ran out of time. Trust me, I've indulged plenty!!!

Another funny or amusing thing to me was the clothes people were wearing. Converse shoes! Everyone, young and old had them on. And skinny jeans. Everyone looked the same. And it didn't matter where you came from. They are all americanized. Of course the tops were sweaters with scarfs.

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Most of the store clerks thought that I was either Russian or German, they asked s they can converse with me. I guess I don't look American. Good or bad...

Over all we had a fabulous time in Barcelona. We just wished we had more time and energy. The time change is really kicking our old butts. In bed around 8 or 9pm.
The one and only complaint that I had, for me that's rare, is the graffiti. It's on every wall. No exaggeration. It's a shame too, because you have these beautiful old buildings with gang graffiti on it. As a joke I told John that I was going to write to the mayor and complain to him.

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Posted by johnjeanne 13:45 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Final Thoughts On Barcelona; Cruise Begins

We liked Barcelona. It felt safe and there was a lot to do. We can see ourselves returning again. Here are a few final thoughts:

- they love to party. Our hotel was in a known tourist spot but we figured it would quiet down around 1 or 2 am. Nope, people were up until 5 or 6 in the morning, still partying from the night before. Not just a few - a lot of people walking the streets, billing silly after drinking too much. Saturday night and Sunday night. Luckily our room was pretty quiet.
- they like it hot. In the offices of the tour company we used, it was very warm - as if the heater was on (it was only in the high 60's outside, so normal air temperature mixed with other people in the room should have been enough.). The tour bus we took on the 2nd day was very warm. We had to ask them to make it colder but it didn't seem to work much. Coincidentally, the Turkish Airlines flight to get to Barcelona was also warm and after asking 3 times it was only a little better.
Overall it was a good time though.

We made it to our cruise on time and we're now on our way to our first stop in Port Vendres, France and we have to slowest Internet connection possible. Here are a few shots of our departure:

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Posted by johnjeanne 12:45 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona shopping

I am having a blast with the stores here. I'm dragging poor John into every cool store I can find. He keeps on reminding me that we have no more room in our luggage for more stuff. It's true, I was packed to the hilt coming over here. I'm hoping to find a UPS store where I can mail my new items home.
The funniest thing I bought was some goat cheese at a farmers market in Montserrat. I got suckered into it. I couldn't say No, it tasted so good. John keeps on asking me how I'm going to travel with it. Most likely we will have it on the boat.
My best find was a leather jacket. It was only 87 euro, about $100. Yes real leather. So soft too! The prices are insanely low. Even with the euro slightly higher than the dollar, I'm having fun!!! Need to pace myself. I'm sure France and Italy will be a different story...

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Posted by johnjeanne 21:45 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Our Stay in Barcelona

sunny 67 °F
View John and Jeanne's Windstar Trip - May 2016 on johnjeanne's travel map.

It's our second (and last) full day in Barcelona. We leave tomorrow afternoon (Monday) on the cruise. We were so tired last night, we forgot to write up anything and went right to sleep. We're still acclimating to the time difference. So this entry will cover both out days here.

Saturday May 14, 2016

We woke up at a decent time on Saturday, had breakfast and went on our first journey - to the Apple Store. We didn't bring a laptop and realized we had no way to transfer pictures from our camera to the iPad so had to buy a special adapter to connect the two. Pictures from the phone are only ok so we wanted to use the real camera too. Works like a charm. We spent most of the day window shopping (with some real shopping thrown in a couple times) and walking up and down the street our hotel is on. Of course we had lunch - Sangria and Paella:

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Our room is on the 4th floor so we have a great view of the plaza below, which has a fountain in the middle:

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Our main excursion today started at 5pm at the basilica called La Sagrada Familia. This is a church designed by Antoni Gaudi a famous Spanish architect. He had a really interesting style -almost cartoonish in some ways. He worked his whole life to get the church built but died in his 70's before it could be completed (he was hit by a train and thought to be a homeless person because no one recognized the body.). The church had only two walls built by the time he died. The government and other patrons decided to finish the project and it is still under construction. They think they will have it completed in the early 2020's but our tour guide said that knowing Spain, it will be the early 2040's. Here are some pictures...you can see how unique it is. And all the light is natural - all of it comes from the sun through the windows.

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We had an opportunity to go up into one of the towers but it started raining so we left and went back to the hotel. It was after 7, still kind of early for many Spaniards to eat but we were in the tourist section and there were plenty of restaurants open.

During the day we saw a poster for "An evening with David Duchovny actor" (actor from the X files, Californication, etc). We looked it up and had no idea he was a musician. We are by no means great fans of his but figured since we were in Barcelona and he was too, We seriously considered going to see him until we heard some of the music. Sorry Mr. Duchovney. At least we got this picture of the marquee:

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We were very tired at the end of Saturday so we went to sleep around 9PM.

Sunday, May 15 2016

Sunday was a half day trip to Montserrat - a mountain that contains a Benedictine monastery and overlooks Barcelona and the surrounding area. It's so high that you can see the Pyrenees mountains 35km away (these form the natural border between Spain and France) on one side and the ocean on the other. We booked a tour through a local company called Julia Travel and journeyed an hour or so up to the mountain (partial highway, partial windy road.) The original monastery dates back to the 10th century but the original buildings were destroyed in 1811 by Napolean's forces. The Monastery was rebuilt in the 1840's. They have a boys choir that Jeanne wanted to hear so we packed into the main church with everyone else in Barcelona and heard the Sunday mass and some of the choir - none of which was worth it. We couldn't hear and the mass was in Catalan, not even Spanish, so instead of understanding 25% of it, we understood none of it (more on the two languages in Barcelona below.). The church organ played stuff that sometimes sounded like music from The Omen and at other times like the music at the end of the Godfather when Michael Corleone is becoming godfather to his nephew, professing his belief in God and his rejection of Satan while his henchmen murder the other heads of the 5 mob families. We got some good pictures though. Of our two excursions, this was our least favorite. The bus was hot and the location was only interesting for a short time. To take advantage of all that it had to offer, we would have needed a full day because a couple points of interest like the cross and another building were 20-30 minute walks each way. Atleast We bought some goat cheese.

When we got back into the city we walked around some more to see if there was anything else we wanted to buy since Stores aren't open Monday. The concierge at our hotel said it was "Second Easter" but we figured that must have been a mis-translation, so we looked it up and it's something called Whit Monday. It's a religious holiday in Spain, celebrated only in the Catalonia region, where Barcelona is. More here if interested: http://www.officeholidays.com/countries/europe/whitmonday.php

We had an earlier dinner this night (6PM) and came up to our room to post this and make an early evening of it. We finished the evening with food and sangria of course:

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About Spanish and Catalan: Barcelona is the capital of its own autonomous region within Spain, called Catalonia. Kind of a cross between a US state and its own country - it has its own laws that apply within its region but follows federal laws too. It has two official languages: Catalan and Spanish (don't get Catalan and Castilian mixed up; Castilian is another name for Spanish, namely the Spanish spoken in Spain - Catalan is a totally different language.) Most of the signs and in the streets are in at least two languages. - Catalan and Spanish; and sometimes in a 3rd language -English. Sometimes though it's only in one language - Catalan. This is fine for locals because apparently Spanish is the 2nd language, so natives of the region always speak Catalan and usually speak Soanish. Catalan has words that are similar to Spanish for some, but others are more like French or Italian. Catalan uses "Les" (like French) for the plural "The" where Spanish uses "Los". Catalan uses plural endings for some words that are more like English. Mercats in Catalan is Markets in English and Mercados in Spanish. Spanish always has a vowel before the last "s" in a plural word ("os" or "Es" for example) whereas English and Catalan don't. Cheese is queso in Spanish, but formatge in Catalan (similar to fromage in French and formaggio in Italian.) Catalan also uses sounds that sound more like a "g" (as in gee whiz) or a combination of a "g" and a "z" - not found in Spanish at all. So a totally different language. We found this very interesting and one of the tour guides even pointed it out to us.

Here are a selection of pictures showing some common architecture around the city:

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Tomorrow we check out and catch our little cruise ship, the Windstar "Star Breeze".

Posted by johnjeanne 21:36 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona montserrat la_sagrada_familia Comments (1)

View from our room in Barcelona

Here's a view from our room in Barcelona

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Posted by johnjeanne 04:15 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

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