Monday, July 21, 2014
I am awake early again this morning – probably due to jet lag. Not such a bad thing. I piddle around my apartment having my coffee and oatmeal and finishing up yesterday’s blog.
This afternoon I will be meeting Janel at her workplace – Appszoom and will go to lunch with her and a few co-workers. She has given me very explicit instructions on how to get to her place. For that I am very grateful because it involves walking to a certain Metro station, figuring out how to purchase a ticket and choosing the correct line. Then, I have to know on which stop to exit, find the Rodailes train, purchase a round trip ticket, figure out where to get on and off of that one. It is probably not really a complicated process, but for persons who don’t ordinarily use public transportation it can be quite convoluted. Fortunately, Janel’s instructions are really good and I have no trouble.
Janel meets me with a smile at the end of my journey and walks me to her workplace that is in a suburb of Barcelona. The Appszoom office is very “tech-y” and modern. Looks like a great place to work.
I love to see where she spends her days and am happy to meet several of her co-workers. We go to lunch at a local place and I try to hang on to the bits of conversation in a crazy mix of Castellano, Catalan and Engish. She works with some pretty cool folks.
When it is time for me to go Janel wonders if I can manage to reverse the directions and make it home. (I am wondering the same thing). One of the difficulties for me in Barcelona is the use of Catalán. It is similar to Castellano (the Spanish that most of us know), but is just enough different to make it look and sound very strange. For example this sign is in Catalán as I go out the main floor door of my apartment :
While it kind of looks similar to “Por favor, cierre la puerta”” (Please close the door), the differences make you take a second look. This happens with most signs around town. This is definitely not fair to the simple tourist trying to get by with meager Spanish skills!
Janel and I have big plans for later this afternoon. We are going to visit the Sagrada Familia – Barcelona’s most treasured landmark. The Sagrada Fanilia was designed by Catalan artist and architect Gaudi (there are several very unusual Gaudi buildings in Barcelona that are really cool) and was started in 1882. It is far from complete – the completion date is supposed to be 2026, but if you see it you think there is no way it will be finished by then. When Janet, Janel and were in Barcelona a couple of years ago we saw the outside, but chose not to go in because the line for entry was wrapped around the block. I have since discovered that you can purchase tickets in advance online for a particular entry time – ours is 6:45. Janel has never been inside either and she eagerly agrees to play “tourist” with me.
I was very proud of myself for figuring out how to get to the Sagrada on foot and actually meeting up with Janel with a sea of people milling around. The line was huge as usual. However, since we had our tickets in hand, we simply walked up to the front and they let us in.
To say the place blew us away is an understatement. I am not going to try to give a bunch of explanations, but rather will post pictures and you can see for yourself.
We spent a couple of hours in awe at the site and then decided it was cava time. Janel looked on her phone to find a rooftop bar and we headed out. The bar she found (she had never been there) was located on the top floor of a rather unassuming hotel (Ayres Hotel). Little did we know what would await us on the terrace. There was a stunning view of the Sagrada Familia right across the street – probably the best view in the entire city!
For some reason, there was no bar service on the terrace on Monday evening, but there was a phone and an sign indicating that you could call for service. Janel wasted no time in ordering 2 glasses of cava to be brought upstairs. (Wonder where she gets that from?)
When we snapped out of our haze, it was past 9:00 and time for dinner. Janel already had a place picked out that we could walk to. When we arrived at the tiny Betlem restaurant we were worried that it looked completely full.
We managed to snag a table inside, but really wanted one of the handful of tables that were outside. Within 30 seconds the Primo table inside at the open window looking out was vacated and we snatched it up. Our server was wonderful and made great suggestions. We ordered the King Crab Ravioli, the omelet with mushrooms and the grilled octopus all to share. We were each poured a glass of the HOUSE red that was better than most of the wines I have ordered off any menu!
Dinner was absolutely amazing. Somehow Spanish chefs know how to take the best ingredients and create simple, yet stunning dishes. I am almost always impressed with anything that is ordered.
We make the short walk home and I get in bed well after 1:00am. I don’t know how Janel does this and then goes to work in the morning. I have no huge plans for tomorrow and can sleep in.
This has been another great day in Barcelona and I am looking forward to Dario’s arrival tomorrow evening. The three of us will have lots to talk about as we prepare to travel to Provence on Wednesday.