Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly In the Plain...

...And definitely not in sunny BARCELONA!

Most of our trips in Europe were work related but this one was special because it was ALL vacation and it was 10 days long!  With Michael's work schedule and long hours, we wanted somewhere warm, sunny, with beaches.  Barcelona delivered.

The city has such great architecture and history.  We loved dancing in the street, riding the subway, taking a bike tour, and walking around the beautiful city.  Although we were away from Romania for 10 days, we didn't stay the whole time in Barcelona.  We took a little two night jaunt to Morocco- which I will write about next.  This time, it's all about Espana.  This trip was a good thing and a bad thing because we all got some pretty bad head colds.  Good thing because we were on vacation for a long time we could take it slower and just rest when we needed to.  Bad thing because we were sick, we didn't get to enjoy as much time other places as we could have if we had been in full health.  Oh well! C'est la vie!

This was a street near our hotel the first couple nights and when the streets are this picturesque, you just have to dance through them!

We love bike tours! This was no exception.  The kids love their seats and don't get tired as easily.  We all love seeing so much of the city and getting to hear a guide's information behind what we are seeing.  Bike tours are our favorite!

Awesome architecture!

Incredible history! (^This is from Sagrada Familia.  My absolute favorite! More on that later in this post)

Government buildings flying the flag of Spain and Barcelona.  Barcelona desperately wants to be an independent nation of Catalan and they make that quite well known.  There's also a "Refugees Welcome" banner.  Definitely a powerful statement there!

Some of our own exploring on foot!

This fun spot was created when Barcelona hosted the World Fair.
Another fun story- this arch was also built for the world fair.  Another architect had been commissioned to build a modern tower in this location but when the residents saw the designs they insisted they fire that architect, Mr. Eiffel because it was so ugly.  They wanted something memorable so this arch that is not known for anything was built and Mr. Eiffel had to build his tower somewhere else.  In...Uh, France... I think ;)

This is our selfie in front of the Christopher Columbus statue.  Definitely fascinating to learn more about him and his voyage chartered from Barcelona.  When this picture was taken, we were about a month away from heading back to the states.  So the caption was intended to be something along the lines of: Watch out, America!  Just like Columbus, the Shields are coming for you! (Except without disease and all that other stuff...)

This is one of my favorite pictures because I had major congestion and real fruit/smoothies were the only things that sounded good to me so my super cute tourist husband joined the unique crowd to get me some! Aw! True love!

Let's not forget all our fun time spent on the beach!  There were lots of topless people on the beach so we had to be very vigilant with what photos we posted.  We would zoom in and be like, "Nope! Can't post that one!" Haha!  This one seemed safe as far as we could tell! Besides the pants-less boy front and center! 

One morning, we hiked to the top of the incredible Park Guell where lots of Antoni Gaudi's work can be enjoyed! 

Gaudi's distinctive, Catalan modern architecture is magically and easily recognizable!

Especially his magnum opus- Sagrada Familia!  This unfinished basilica is incredible.  I am a very soft, traditional art fan so I did not think I would fall in love with this Gothic/curvilinear Art Nouveau wonder! When Gaudi died, it was only a quarter completed.  There is an anticipated completion date of 2026 which is the centenary of Gaudi's death.  I hope this is true! It will be incredible to see it without the construction and cranes everywhere.  On the exterior of the building are carvings and statues depicting the life of Jesus Christ.  Starting with "La Sagrada Familia" (the Sacred Family) on the main entrance side.  Such a beautiful depiction of the nativity and the first Christmas night!  Oh man! I loved it!  THEN, you go inside and see this....

The walls were basically simple white stone and the stained glass is beautiful but when the light came through the glass and magically changed the walls to this glowing, multi colored world, it was breathtaking!  I thought after all the cathedrals, castles, churches, stained glass, etc. that we had seen all summer long, this would just be another pretty church.  Instead, I was completely blown away.  What an incredible experience!

To finish off our trip, we rode the train out of the city and the sky tram up into the mountains to see the Abbey of Montserrat.  Getting there was definitely half the fun because the cable car ride was exciting but the location and the mountains also added to the charm.  We needed to get creative with our poses after six months of picture taking. (As seen above!) Also, this is the place where we lost our tripod.  We set it down and it was not there when we went back.  Some of us mourned the loss more than others and some of us were ok picking out a new tripod when we got home that wasn't as bulky and long and annoying as the lost one. ;)

Barcelona was a very nice retreat for us.  It was nice to be able to spend so much time in one place without having to worry about work meetings, etc.  It was a vacation and it had a little bit of everything for everyone!  We are grateful for our time there!

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