Beach and Mountains

Saturday was our first and last full day in Barcelona.  There is so much to do here that there was no way we could see it all, so we had to pick and choose.  We did the orange line tour on the Barcelona City Tour bus, so Saturday we wanted to go with the green line.  This included the east city of Barcelona.
Our morning started with the Avenida Palace breakfast buffet.  Here are some of the options.
Fresh squeezed juices, which taste much better than anything I have had in the states, but then again I do not usually seek out juice…I prefer to eat the fruit rather than drink it.
Here is what I ended up with on my plate.  The yogurt in the back is a fat free and sugar free pineapple yogurt.  I picked this because I know I like it.  We have this on the island.
Once we finished with breakfast, it was time to head out and get moving for a long day of touring.  We only made it a few steps down the road before we spotted this candy store.  We didn’t buy anything, but there was a crazy selection and everything looked good, but it was too early to start buying candy.  Plus, we would have been carrying it all day.
When we turned the corner on to the next street, we saw this.  This store is called Happy Pills.  Can you guess what they sell?
It’s a candy store!  What a clever name!
The 1st stop for the bus was only a short walk from the hotel, so it did not take long to get there.  Many of these buildings I just took pictures of them, so if I happen to know what they are, I will let you know.
This was a street sculpture near the marina.
I thought this was too cute.  It says El Sombrero Loco.  It’s a poster for Alice in Wonderland.
Our first stop was the beach.  They have beautiful beaches here in Barcelona, which lies on the Mediterranean Sea.  Since it was a Saturday, the beach was very busy.
I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans, and walked along the beach.  My mom and I did stick our feet in and it was cold, but not too cold.  Plenty of people were swimming in the ocean.
This is me with my mom.
Then I sat down in a cool little stone chair and cleaned off my feet so i could put my shoes back on.
The beach was really nice, but I will tell you it was definitely a topless beach.  Not everyone was topless, but many were.  Even older people, like a lady I saw standing topless doing thai chi.  The beach also had lots of guys on pull-up bars and other beach type gym equipment.  Some older men were playing tennis on the concrete near the beach.  I can see that it is not only the Mediterranean diet that leads to their good health, but the total lifestyle and inclusion of physical activity starting at a young age and never stopping.
Speaking of physical activity, as we walked away from the beach, we noticed people playing tennis with what appeared to be a volley ball net between the 2 person teams.  It turns out this was the World Cup of beach tennis in Barcelona.  Here I am with the poster and standing behind the bleachers.
These are some of the players.
This is a hotel.
This is the fish sculpture.  I took this picture from the beach, and it was a good thing because you will see in the next photo that it was hard to get a  good shot from up close.
This is the fish up close.
They happen to have a lot of slots and bingo halls, but this was a big casino and it was right on the beach.
More casino action.
This is the Forum.  It is a large exhibition call created by Swiss architects.
Right across the street was a mall, and who can resist a mall!
We wound up venturing in to a Walmart type store.  It was ridiculously huge with multiple levels.  Out front they had these freezer bags that were on wheels and locked in up front.  I think they were so that people could wheel their cold goods home, but they lock them up to avoid being stolen.  It was an interesting thing to see.
This is the Agbar tower.  It is the 3rd tallest building in Barcelona and it is the headquarters for the water company.  At night you can really tell it has different colors because it is lit up. 
At this point, we decided to walk back to the hotel to return some items and wash up.  On the way, we passed this market.  It was like a big flea market, and definitely the biggest one I have ever seen.  It was like a village in there.
These are the tent tops.
Also on the way home, we spotted the Bullfight Museum.
One thing we found interesting was the Jewish stars on here.  There were also the Muslim stars we learned about in Granada.
This place was huge.
Since we were walking, and walking, and walking, we found a market for some fruit.  They had a nice selection.
These peppers were huge.  But, I was not about to eat a pepper on my walk home.  For some reason, even though I like peppers, this did not seem like a refreshing treat at that time.  I had a banana instead.  I thought it would be best to replete my potassium stores as I had been sweating with all the walking in the heat.
We only rested for a few minutes at the hotel before heading to find lunch.  We passed a few places, but then selected this and took a table inside.  This place is called brown 33.
It was really nice inside.  Around here lunch is the biggest meal of the day, so places you might think of as a dinner spot and meals that seem larger, are rather normal around here.
They had great plates to go along with their brown theme.
We split a salad.  It had lettuces, onions, tomatoes and balsamic dressing.
For lunch, Joe had the pesto pasta.  This was super fresh.
Both my mom and me ordered the homemade pasta, similar to a baked ziti.  We both ordered this without the meat.
That did it for lunch.  It was a great meal.  We didn’t waste much time, and only relaxed for a few minutes at the lunch table before getting back to our tour.

The next stop was the Sagrada Familia.  This is the Temple designed by Gaudi that he designed for the Sagrada family.  Gaudi died while he was working on this project (he died in 1918 according to one tour, but 1926 on another), and it has remained unfinished since then.  In recent times, the city is working to complete the building.  They are using the original plans.  Once finished, the six towers at this building will be so tall that this will then become Barcelona’s tallest building.  This place is massive and funky.
After that stop, we continued on to the Hospital de Sant Pau.  Here you can really see the difference in the language.  Barcelona is in a different region, and here they speak a different language, known as Catalan.  It really looks to me like French, but I do not speak French, so this was only my guess.  It made it hard to read signs, but it looks a little like Spanish with less vowels in the words. 
I thought this was interesting.  It is basically a supplement store.  It is much more common in other cultures to practice more of the complementary and alternative medicine practices, including herbals and home remedies.
This is the hospital.  Can you tell I was on a moving bus?
The next stop where we got off took us to the base of the mountain.  These are the Collserola mountains, and provide a lot of greenery around Barcelona.  The part where we went up is the highest point of the range.  At the base is the Rotunda, which I took a picture of because it looks neat.  Now this area contains restaurants and offices.
To get further up, you have to take a trolley car.  This is known as the blue tram, although there is actually a red trolley car on this line.
Here are some pictures as we were heading up the mountain.
After the trolley, we had to the funicular to get all the way up to the top.
This is the car that ride at the angle up the mountain side.
This picture does not do justice to the steep incline.  It was like a Disney World ride.
At one point, the other car is coming right at you, but at the last moment, it goes to the side of you.  I was looking ahead, so I saw the split in the track, but it was really neat how they had it timed perfectly so that both cars entered at the same time and just passed each other.
This is another  view from heading up to the top.
At the top there are not only great views, but other attractions.  This is an early 20th century temple.  At the point where we peaked in, there was a wedding going on.  It was crazy, but many people poked their heads in to see inside.  I did not take a picture, I was not trying to disrespect what seemed like a very religious ceremony.
This is the entrance to Tibidabo.  That is the name of this mountain peak, and therefore also the name of the amusement park.  I was surprised the park entrance fee is only 25 euro.  You do not need a ticket to walk around the first half or so of the park, or what seemed like half the park.  You do however get a bracelet and this is checked in order for you to gain access to the rides.
I took some pictures of some because it was insane that this amusement park is so high up on a mountain peak and some rides carry the riders over the edge so they are dangling.
This was a cute looking play area for kids.
This car goes out and over the mountain side.
There were great views from up top, which is what most people were up there to see.
I zoomed in to check out this swimming pool below.
You can see all the way to the sea.
This airplane is similar to the swing ride in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere.
This was too crazy to watch.
Here we are at the top with the great view behind us.
I thought about cotton candy and then changed my mind.  I really love cotton candy so it was hard to resist.
My mom got a slushie type drink and then I got a popsicle.
When we went to head back down, there was a problem.  Can you spot the issue?
The cable was not attached up top.  This held up our return by 30-45 minutes.  We were stuck waiting in the heat.  These men are discussing and debating what to do.
Finally it was fixed and we could head to the next stop.  By now it was 7 pm and things were closing at 8 pm, so it was not practical to hit up these sights.  The idea was to check them out from the outside, get the hours of operation and the prices, and then head back to the room to rest before a 9:30 dinner.
First we looked at La Pedrera, known as Casa Mila.  It is said to be Gaudi’s most popular work.  This is open for touring.  There is a bank on the top floor, but that is also open to the public.
Our last stop for the day was Casa Batllo and this is not done by Gaudi, it was built using his work.  The other houses on this street are done by other architects in the same style.  This is also open for tours and the bus we were on gave us a 10% off coupon.
Oh yeah, on the way back to the hotel, I saw this ad on the side of the Diesel store, and I took this picture for my friend Meredith.  So Mer, if you are reading, this one is for you.  I will send you the actual picture later.
This would be our last real dinner in Spain, so we wanted to get some sangria and enjoy the outdoor eating that is so prevalent all over Spain.  We looked at a few places, but in the end decided on Divinus.
Look at the great out door patio seating.
Like I said, sangria was a must for this meal.
My mom and Joe split a mixed salad to start.
I has a tomato and cheese salad to start.
For dinner, Joe ordered a pizza.  It had a nice, thin crust.
My mom had the 4 cheese ravioli.
I ordered the steamed salmon with vegetables and a pistachio oil.  It was really good, like really, really good.
For dessert, we went with the restaurant because we were so exhausted that we did not walk far for dinner and did not feel like walking far to find something for dessert.  We selected this pineapple with coconut ice cream.  There were nice chunks of coconut in the ice cream which made it very tasty.
Well, that was it for most of our touring.  Up next we have one more day in Barcelona, but we leave at night for Marrakech, Morocco.  The flight is a little over 2 hours from Barcelona, and with going back one time zone, we wind up landing only an hour or so after the time we take off.  So exciting and so much to see, but also very exhausting.  I could spend so much time out touring other cities because there really is so much that is out there.

QUESTIONS:  Do you speak a foreign language?  Do you visit grocery stores while on vacation?  Have you ever heard of Gaudi?  Do you like amusement parks?


Special K said...

You know I spent my birthday in Barcelona and absolutely felt CHARMED of the city due to GAUDI and ART!
and nope, my life is amusing enough. Until I have kids I won't be riding any roller coasters soon!

Score some curry and flavored salts in MOROCCO for me for GIMMIE your STUFF! I would LOVE to swap with you...shall I get you some french Provence scores at a market?

Anonymous said...

That pesto pasta looks delicious! I actually have pine nuts at home from a dish I made. I should try making pesto at some point.
Looks amazing! Glad you are having such a great time!

Mari said...

I love Amusement parks! I just hate the loooooong lines...

I would have loved to go on that train up the mountain, it looks beautiful and scary at the same time...

Beth said...

We always go to grocery stores on check them out and to get some healthier and cheaper eats.

We love amusement parks! But then, we do own the Disney timeshare, so that goes without saying!

Rachel said...

thanks for uploading all those pics! Happy Pills..haha that made me smile. Nope, I do not like amusement parks, but I do enjoy grocery stores : )

Unknown said...

oooh elephant!!!
everything looks delish!
i love HAPPY PILLS! and CasinOH! LOL!!

glad you finally made it out :)

Yes, I go to markets when I am on vacation - obvi! I like amusements parks...but i liked them more when I was younger.

Rachel said...

I'm so excited to go to Barcelona!!! Thanks for the great preview. I'm going to find that tram!

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