Monday, June 28, 2010

Days 7 & 8 - Barcelona to Costa Brava

On Day 8, Kyle and I fell in love. But before that...Day 7, our final day in Barcelona. We'll keep it brief. We woke, it was pouring rain. Gorged on Chucho's again, spent lots of money on fancy food souvenirs at the Boqueria. Went to Sagrada Familia again, in the rain.

When you buy tickets to go inside the church, you can also take an elevator up to one of the tallest towers. This was the line of bored tourists waiting for the elevator, snaking around a sculpture of suffering Christ, being flogged on a pole with a tear running down his cheek.
Inside was chaos. Walls up, multiple heavy machinery moving scaffolding between the columns. Jackhammers or something loud to that effect, going constantly. We couldn't even hear each other speak. If you look closely below, there are two men in red, rappelling on the column in the back. I took this picture over a wall that completely obscured our view of the construction area. Its the best one I got.

We were a bit disappointed that we couldn't even see most of the church or get a feel what it would be like when it was finished. (and that the noise was deafening) This sign made us feel much, much better.

Down under the church was a museum of plaster models and drawings that sort of showed what the church would be like when it was finished, how Gaudi had envisioned it, etc. It was pretty interesting but didn't really make the 11 euro (each) entry fee feel worth it. Thank goodness the money went to help build the church, otherwise we would have been bitter.

Now it was really truly pouring and we were supposed to eat lunch at a special "rice" shop way across town. (and take a long walk) Bedraggled & grumpy we made it to the rice place, sort of a more rustic paella that was supposed to be amazing & cooked over a wood fire. I enjoyed it, but let's just say it wasn't the highlight of the trip for Kyle and he complained about the rain & the rice...quite a bit. Apparently hand peeling prawns that are covered in sauce is very high on Kyle's list of pet peeves.

Out of sorts, we went straight back to our hotel, hit up one more gourmet food store for gifts and then got in our car and drove away from Barcelona. On the way out we decided to stay by the water to check out the beaches. It was already later than we'd hoped and rush hour. But we were in a better mood, feeling cocky about our navigation skills, so we kept skipping the on ramps to our freeway in favor of the more scenic route.

Suddenly we there were no more signs for our freeway. The road dead ended in an industrial zone. Kyle's iphone map quit working and we had no other map of this area. We drove in a couple circles.

I know you're crazed with suspense, but we found our way somehow. We'd gotten lost in Badalonia. That's right, just outside of Barcelonia is a suburb called Badalonia. We were very amused. Finally, very late and a few more hours and wrong turns later, we found our next hotel up the coast in an area called Costa Brava.

The fog was thick, but our lodging looked promising. We'd picked up fancy jamon, wine, manchego & fruit to have a picnic on our patio but when Kyle saw our hotel terrace restaurant he decided he was too hungry to have a picnic. This picture taken the next morning shows why:
The location was breathtaking. We enjoyed our dinner wrapped in cozy restaurant provided blankets under an white awning. Raindrops occasionally snuck onto our cheeks and the waves crashed below. Most of the lighting was by candles and a couple lamps.
Later on our room's patio (seen above) we polished off the "picnic" we'd brought as well. It was wonderful. When we woke the next morning and were able to truly appreciate our hotel and we....well we loved it. In fact we loved it so much, I don't even want to type the name here. Because if I tell you the name, everyone will get my blog on google and then run to it and it will be booked forever. But if you beg me in person or by email, I will tell you.

We had breakfast on the terrace again and then got ready to take a nice long walk on the pathway carved out along the shore.

I don't know why, but I was in love with this couch & the lavender. and the rocks, terra cotta pots and the giant citronella candle in a glass pot. sigh.

With our room, we had access to this crazy apartment building next door so that we could use their saltwater swimming pool. Apparently the place we were staying used to be the maid/guard quarters for it, back when it was a huge luxury resort for Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. Now it still has charm but no ones maintained it super well. But the pool area was still incredible.

Notice the handrails leading into the ocean. It was still rainy & windy, so the waves were too big for any swimming. And they drained the pool so we didn't even get to try that.

The pool. After admiring where we could have hung out if it was sunny, we went on our walk. The path goes right under the house in the picture below and you could use the stairs to go swimming if you wanted. If it was sunny.

Walking trails crisscrossed the area but we only used the one right along the water. It led to the point you could see in the pictures far above...the point we looked at while we ate dinner. Here is the coast past that point:

On your way to the point, you go through a teeny town with a nice sandy beach & a couple restaurants. And lots of cute cute houses.

How can we get a turret added onto our house? I really want to would fit our neighborhood I think.

Looking back at the tiny town. The huge apartment is the monstrosity to the far right. Our hotel is nestled in the trees to the left of it. The beauty is that we couldn't really see the apartments from our hotel because of the angle, so the view was not diminished.

We were hungry so we headed to a nearby town for lunch. We couldn't find anyplace that looked appetizing so we sat down at a busy looking place filled with british people. The menu looked horrible. So horrible and un-spanish that we finally left, cursing brits and the way they ruin perfectly good food.

We went back to this smokey little bar we'd seen, hoping that it was better than the british place even though at first glance it did not look promising. In the states it would have been a nasty dive bar. In spain...bars like that are apparently culinary heaven.
Everything was sitting room temperature, but when they warmed up our salt cod, chorizo, & marinated squid they were spectacular. The marinated anchovies were the best I'd ever had, mild & delicious, I could have just had them, bread and wine and been happy. And of course they had padron peppers. With all that salty food we had four glasses of wine, plus coffee, plus an after lunch liquor and the total was less than $40. We were stuffed.

Time to walk it off, through the cute medieval little town, up to the castle ruins on top of the hill. It was so pretty.

The view from the castle went all the way to the border with France practically. And by now it had cleared up and was sunny and warmish.
Funny local teen kids flirting on top of the castle with the catalan flag.

Hot local on the streets with more castle like buildings. By now we were smitten hard with the whole area. It just kept getting better. We picked up a real estate brochure and dreamed over it back on our hotel porch. Its amazing what 1.8 million euros will get you over there. (sea view, swimming pool, large beautiful house with character)

We took another walk along the coast before dinner, just to make sure we had an appetite. Then we settled in at 9:30 on the terrace restaurant for a fantastic night.

I LOVED the blankets. Such a cozy way to eat dinner. The restaurant had live blues music at 10pm. We ordered my first beef carpaccio (amazing!), tuna carpaccio (eh), risotto, razor clams and finally....fois gras on top of a filet mignon. We hung out for hours, ate some dessert and finally went up to the inside lounge where I whooped kyle in a game of chess. I think we went to bed sometime after 1am. I love long dinners.....

By far our favorite place on the entire trip. We saved all the real estate brochures, just so we can dream.


Shauna said...

I want you to travel all the time so I can read about it all the time. :) Or just take me with you, that would work too. ;)

Rebekah said...

yes you do have a way of describing it all so wonderfully! now I am dreaming too of visiting your secret spot it sounds like heaven!!

Kelsie said...

Looks like you also hit the rain that seemed to be all covering the entire continent! Wow, this place looks awesome!