Now that my life has settled a bit more here in Italy, I'm remembering that I LIVE IN EUROPE! I'm excited to live in close(r) proximity to both countries I've already visited and new ones to explore.
This month, I flexed my newfound European status by visiting a friend, Eva-Maria, in Barcelona.
A Quick History of Friendship
I met Eva-Maria when I studied in Belgium in 2000 (sooo long ago!). We maintained our friendship by sending long emails and fun Christmas packages full of goodies. I last saw her 12 years ago when I visited with my family for el Día de Reyes.
Here she is with her infectious laugh as she clowns for my son!
Now that I live so close, I took the opportunity to go to Barcelona to support her for a very special theatrical performance she gave as a one-woman show.
A Touch of Gaudì
I didn't have much on my list of things I wanted to do after seeing Eva-Maria's stunning performance...other than visiting La Sagrada Familia, one of the famous architect, Antoni Gaudì's, most renowned projects.
This gorgeous temple broke ground in 1882...and still isn't done! I can see how it could be a perpetual project, with so many intricate details requiring attention and renovation. Gaudì wanted it to be a "church of the future," and I'd say he succeeded. The outside is covered in ornate carvings of Biblical scenes. Inside, magical colored light filters through the space, and tall pillars designed as trees hold up the structure.
My breath was taken away.
You could visit multiple times and never really see the entire thing. Sadly, the crypt wasn't open when I visited. It's open an hour before the mass, which is in the evening. Not sure if it's every day, so check ahead if interested.
Tapas? Always a Good Idea
I'd forgotten how delicious the food was in Barcelona. What I did recall was how late the Spanish eat! I thought Italians were late, eating at 8 or 9, but in Spain, a meal often didn't start til 9 or 10. That can take some getting used to for this American who eats at 6!
Still, the delicious tapas we had made up for the late start. Pumpkin hummus...cod with kale...even fried artichokes that I swore were tiny fried crabs. Tapas are great because you can share them and try many! I didn't take a picture (well, it's not that photogenic), but my favorite Catalan tapas is pa amb tomàquet, or bread with tomatoes!
A Great Walking City
Though it was February, my visit was blessed with lots of sun and fair weather. I enjoyed walking around, exploring the neighborhoods and sights of the city. Near my hotel was El Parco Pegaso, a sweet little family park with the coolest playground ever:
We also visited El Museo del Tarot, which housed the largest collection of tarot card decks I've ever seen! Of course, I bought myself something special!
Eva-Maria also took me to the very cool bookstore, LLibreria Byron, where we sipped tea, pulled tarot cards, and soaked up all the books around us. I adore books!
A Farewell View of the City
Too soon, my trip drew to a close. But before I said adios to the city, we took a beautiful sunset cruise along the shore. It was a bit chilly, but the sun was setting, which blessed everything with a golden tinge.
We followed up the boat ride with a mouth-watering meal at a Thai restaurant that was the largest and most beautiful restaurant I'd seen in Europe!
Eva-Maria was sad when I left. I was too, but happy because I know she's just a plane ride away!