Keith Johnston

Sant Joan In Barcelona
We made the decision to fly from Paris to Barcelona as it was only a 1.5hr flight and given we would only have 48hrs in Barcelona. The train from Paris to Barcelona would have taken about six hours. Well, by the time we factor a one hour delay on the ground, followed by a one hour delay after we boarded the plane (attributed to ongoing transportation strikes in Paris), you could have made an argument for taking the train. Fortunately, Maggie noticed they serve sangria on the Spanish airline, and we made it to Barcelona.

Our apartment is near Plaça de Catalunya, the centre of the city. Like Paris, a nice area with plenty of hospitality, and a safe feeling walking the streets. After a nice orientation from our host, we headed to the supermarket to pick up a few things for our couple of days here. Barcelona seems much more affordable than Paris in terms of groceries, beer, wine, cafes, and restaurants.

After settling in, we had time to walk down to the marina and beach area. The long beautiful beach area was very busy, but didn't seem over crowded. Between the beaches and the marina, you could walk this area every evening and you would not get tired of it.

Thursday evening we had a wonderful meal at a little place around the corner from our place. Casa Alfonso is a small family owned tapas restaurant that we really enjoyed. Saint Joan in Barcelona, is the annual celebration of not the longest day of the year, but the shortest night. The Night of Fire is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires throughout the city and beaches, and it lasts all night. Our host had made us aware well in advance so we were aware of the festivities around us.

Friday morning we had scheduled a guided ebike (electric bike) tour. This is a must do for anyone coming to Barcelona. We met our tour on the front steps of the Barcelona Cathedral. Our guide Ale (pronounced - A*lee), was outstanding. Very knowledgable in her city's history, the 4.5hrs together flew by. The focus of the tour was on the amazing works of architect, Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí's work is seen throughout all of Barcelona. Our tour included three of his great efforts, Sagrada Família, Casa Milà, and Casa Batlló. Click on these links to learn more about these bodies of work.

Friday evening, our host, Virginia, had recommended a small tapas restaurant in the Barceloneta (marina) area. El Vaso de Oro was as authentic as it gets. Five seasoned male servers navigate the extremely tight quarters handing off the beer and small plates between them rather than walk around each other. Great food, great beer, and great atmosphere.

Following dinner, we walked back on the famous La Rambla. What was once an upscale walk through the highest end shops and galleries is now an avenue full of souvenir merchants and overpriced patios. It was a nice stroll, but nothing that needs to be seen when there are so many other spots in Barcelona. We could easily vacation here for two or three weeks. It really is beautiful. Saturday we board the Royal Princess for seven nights on the Mediterranean.

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