April 3/4, 2012- Today we got up early, excited to get our next adventure underway. Our flight actually left from Ithaca, NY, which was a nice way to start the trip. Ithaca was about an hours drive from Syracuse and it is a no muss, no fuss airport. No lines, no waiting...PERFECT. Our flight to Philadelphia was short and sweet. Our layover in Philadelphia was somewhat long, but we didn't mind looking around the shops and getting some lunch. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase our tickets with frequent flyer miles, so the trip to Ithaca and long layover in Philadelphia was offset by the price of the ticket. After our lunch and shoppping we set up camp by our gate. My mom stretched out and took a nap, while I caught up on some email and reading. The next thing we knew, they were calling us to board. We got a little nervous since our travel companion, Amy had not arrived at the gate yet. We quickly boarded and saw that Amy was only a few minutes behind us. The flight to Barcelona was nice. The flight was about half full, which meant we got to spread
out for some extra room. I watched some TV, had dinner, and then tried to catch some z's. Amy decided to stay up and watch about three movies since it is hard for her to pull away from them once she is invested....even though she knew she would "pay" for it tomorrow. The next thing I knew, I was being woken up with less than an hour to go. I watched a beautiful sunrise and then we landed. The Barcelona Airport was very slick-- modern and nice. We quickly collected our one checked bag and headed for the bus to city centre. The bus ride was quick and before we knew it we arrived on the doorstep of the Hosteria Grau. We dropped off our luggage and went off to explore Las Ramblas in the rain. Las Ramblas is a beautiful promenade that has lots of vendors selling their wares. Our first stop was La Boqueria Market. This market was fantastic. The meat, fruit, and vegetable vendors had beautiful displays that made us immediately hungry. We chose to pull up a seat at Pinotxo Bar. Juan, who seemed to be the ambassador of the market immediately helped us decide between
meat or fish. He asked us what we would like and then proceeded to tell us what and how much to order. We were on our way to our first tapas experience. We were quickly served a meat stew and a chickpea dish. Both were full of flavor and left us wanting a lot more, but we decided to not stuff ourselves silly at the first meal. I ordered orange juice, which was fresh squeezed blood orange juice.. it was delicious. Amy tried the popular Spanish style coffee--cafe con leche (more like half coffee, half milk)--decaf, of course as she is a recovering addict. Eileen stuck with her trusty bottled water. After lunch, we wandered down Las Ramblas and ended up at the Licito Opera House. We quickly signed up for a short tour and were not disappointed. The Opera house was opulent and newly restored with cool high-tech features like individual screens at each seat where patrons can read subtitles to decipher what the heck those people are singing about. After the Opera house tour, we headed back our hotel to see if our room was ready. At this point, we were starting to feel the jet lag, so we tucked if for a 2, make that 5 hour nap. oops... we overslept. We got ourselves together and headed down Las Ramblas to see he Mediterranean Sea. We wandered around Port Vell, thru the Barceloneta neighborhood, and then decided to head for the Olypmic Village. I took us the long way accidentally, thru Parc Da La Ciutadella. This was a very large, beautifully landscaped city park complete with a lagoon and outdoor public ping pong tables. We ended up getting a little lost trying to find an exit. We did, however, stumble upon some local color disguised as a man simply out running. At first this man seemed normal, but then he started circling trees on his run. Shortly after that, he started looking thru garbage hands... it appeared he was searching for something... we were fascinated. Amy (who, remember, sees a lot of movies) was pretty sure he was a spy frantically looking for some dropped "package" he was supposed to retrieve for his mission. Once we emerged from the park, it was starting to get dark, so we found the metro and made our way back to Las Ramblas area and found our dinner destination. The restaurant was recommended by our hotel and didn't disappoint. We ordered a bunch of items to share and everything was delicious. Amy and I tried the local Rioja wine and sangria, respectively. After dinner, we made a quick stroll on Las Ramblas for some gelato to really celebrate the fact that it was our first night on yet another fabulous vacation and then back to the hotel to tuck in for the night.
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