Barcelona – Journey to the Camino de Santiago

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

In order to walk the Camino, we obviously had to get to Spain somehow. We spend a lot of time trying to decide where to rest up for a couple of days before heading off to the start of our Camino. Paul was also anxious to show us around Barcelona, where he studied abroad, so we decided to fly there and spend a couple of days recovering from some jet lag and seeing the sights.

Jet lag is real
Jet lag is real

A blurb on flying with a toddler (or really, my toddler in particular): The flight over was really not bad at all. We flew from Houston to Toronto to Barcelona. Finn was a “lap baby” so he didn’t have his own seat #cheapskates, but we totally lucked out/begged the stewardess before our flight and got seats with an empty seat in between. One seat provides SOOOO much more room for Finn to move within our little aisle and stretch out to sleep and put all of the things we pull out to try to keep him happy. I do my very very best to keep him from kicking people’s seat, but I don’t stress about him playing peek-a-boo between the seats (he loves that) and people are generally much more friendly and helpful than we think they’re going to be.

Also, all rules are off on snacks, tv, and ipad time. Finn won’t always wear headphones so I don’t stress about having the ipad on and playing music. Seriously, kids are people too and people can deal with somewhat annoying kids music and Finn’s favorite peek-a-b00 iPad game. He’s not much at all of a t..v watcher so we can’t rely much on movie time, but there is ALWAYS a time while flying when I wish the little energizer bunny would be a little t.v. obsessed so we will Just.Sit.Still. But, in all honesty, he’s always been a pretty good flier, even through the high energy level. Mostly, our goal was to keep him up on the first flight to Toronto and then to sleep as much as possible on the long overnight flight to Spain. And we pretty much succeeded! So I actually got to enjoy some inflight entertainment that was not in the form of cartoon.

Churros con chocolate
Churros con chocolate

Moving on. We landed in Barcelona pretty early in the morning, Barcelona time. We couldn’t check into our AirBNB until that afternoon so we freshened up at the airport and caught a bus into town. We went straight to the Old City and played the memory game with Paul where he tried his hardest to guide us around without getting lost on the crooked little streets. He took us to a couple of churches, out for coffee and churros con chocolate (duh), stopped for Finn to play in a playground, and eventually we, completely by accident, ran into our med school friend and her husband (another doctor/lawyer combo!) in one of the churches. We had discussed our respective trips together but thought we would miss each other in Barcelona. Turns out, we overlapped by a day. Communication skills, we got ’em.

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Streets of Barcelona
Streets of Barcelona
Making Amigos
Making Amigos

After getting checked into our supremely quirky but totally wonderful 5th floor walk-up AirBNB, we took the most glorious of naps. Then we went exploring the Old City some more, which mostly involved a lot of walking and then asking ourselves what we were about to get into if we were complaining about a little walk through Barcelona. We walked down Las Ramblas and through Mercado de la Boqueria where we had some fresh juice for about 1/25th of the price it would have been in the States. We also needed some food so we hit up the Corte de Ingles which is basically a Whole Foods, Nordstroms, Babies-R-Us, Target, Sears combined. So overwhelming!

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Juicing
Juicing

Paul, ever the tour guide, organized taking the group (us and our med school friends) to the “champainaria” in which the champaign is cheap and the bocadillos delish.

So….on our first day in Spain, we took the baby to a bar.

Excuse the low light bar photo. Also, We just look like we’ve been travelling all day.

It was standing room only and Finn was all over the place, but for 1 euro glasses of champaign, he could’ve been chugging them right along with me and I probably would not have cared. Kidding!…mostly.

After the visit, we all picked up some wine and went back to our funny little apartment to put Finn to bed and drink on the balcony while watching people walk by. The area apparently used to be just a little sketchy, but, as these areas often do, has become kind of hip. There was a bar just down the street from us that Paul remembered frequenting so Paul and I took turns alternating baby duty and having a drink with our friends at the bar.

Walk up
Walk up
This balcony was so nice to have.
This balcony was so nice to have.
Notice the sleeping nugget on that wonderfully mismatched bedding
Notice the sleeping nugget on that wonderfully mismatched bedding

And now that I’m reading this, I’m like “omgsh we’re crazy!” Yes. It was a ridiculously full first day in Barcelona. And I’m probably missing a few things…like the walk back and forth to the champagnaria just so Paul could make sure he remembered where it was…and shopping for last minute Camino supplies at the outdoors store where Finn had one of his first jet lag breakdowns and we spent some quality time in time out.

The next day, we were up early to explore some more. After coffee and then more coffee (in the form of cortados) we went to the Picasso museum where Finn whined a bit and then slept. No appreciation for the arts, as his father would say. The museum gave me an appreciation for Picasso that I never expected. He was such a talented artist and mastered so many different styles of art before finding his own!

Super excited about TRAINS!!!
Super excited about TRAINS!!!

Then we went to lunch at Quatros Gatos where Picasso and his buddies used to hang out. We had a proper Spanish menu (3 courses and wine) before finally breaking for a proper Spanish nap.

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After, we headed to Parque Guell by Guadi. Apparently you need tickets to get into the main Parque and the wait was forever so we walked around parts of the Parque that are open to the public and still had great views and could get a good look at some of Gaudi’s works. From there, we went to Sagrada Familia, the church that was really Gaudi’s life work. Paul had been inside, so he took Finn to a park to play while I got some time inside. It was so beautiful and so unexpectedly understated that I honestly wept.

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I may have also been influenced by exhaustion.

FINALLY, we walked down a main street to see a couple of Gaudi designed houses before stopping for a tapas meal. At this point, I was spent, I suspect Finn was spent, and we had to be up early for our train to start making our way to Ronscevalles.

Gaudi house
Gaudi house

One thing I was really taken by in Barcelona is that the city is really about art. Most places I have visited have a huge history draw, and I’m sure Barcelona has some, but so much of the city celebrated art and architecture and the history was really about the art.

At the end of it all, I felt like we’d seen A LOT of Barcelona in 2 days. I also learned we really lack some understanding of what “resting up” means. But, then again, we were spending our “vacation” walking 13-20 miles a day so I should have known that!

TAPAS!
TAPAS!
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