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Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Girls Get Away

As many of you know, I recently set off on a five day, girls only, trip to Barcelona with Kim and Jori!!  What an AMAZING trip!! What made it so great was being able to explore a city without kids in tow, not having to adhere to a schedule, sleeping late, staying up late, going to a beautiful beach, spending much needed time with two of my best friends, laughing, talking and eating for hours upon hours, and knowing that we have three amazing and supportive husbands who encouraged us to make this trip happen!

On our first day together, we settled into our room, went to lunch and sat by the pool. Not a bad way to start a vacation!!!

After baking in the sun (I was literally cooked!!) Jori and I took off on a walk while Kim crashed in the room for a bit. Our hotel was located about 5 blocks from the beach, so Jori and I headed in that direction to check it out. The beach was gorgeous, perfect Mediterranean blue water, soft sand, boats on the horizon, street music and plenty of topless European sunbathers!

Our first night out, we headed to La Rambla, which is a street in central Barcelona, popular with both tourists and locals alike. It is about 3/4 of a mile long, lined with shopping, restaurants and street performers and is located between Barri Gòtic and El Raval, it connects Plaça Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell. After taking in the sights of the street for a bit, we sat down for a fabulous dinner of paella, tapas and GIANT sangria! We were so proud of Kim for braving all the new cuisine!!!

Day two consisted of the Open Top Bus Tour of the city. I have done these bus tours in three different cities now and have to say, I love them!! I feel like I get to see a snippet of everything and then I get to choose where I spend more time...anyway, I digress...

We were able to take in so many amazing sights and saw a few of the inspiring creations by the famous Antoni Gaudí, such as Casa MilàSagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Park Güell. Overall the architecture in Barcelona is beautiful, the people friendly, the weather fabulous and the overall vibe is flat out FUN!!!

Pictures of Casa Milàand Casa Batlló

We decided to hop off the bus when we arrived at Park Güell. Very glad that we did, it was beautiful and the attention to detail impressive!!

After a quick bite to eat at a delicious pastry shop, we hopped back on the bus. We caught a glimpse of Mt Tibidabo off in the distance. Tibidabo, is a mountain overlooking Barcelona, it is almost 1,700 ft high and provides spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline.

We were able to see many of the sight atop Montjuïc, which is a hill located near the center of Barcelona. One of these sights is the Palau Nacional (National Palace), the central pavilion of the International Exhibition. The majestic building is home to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Its collection includes Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art as well as 19th and 20th century works of art. Truly a beautiful building.

Montjuïc is also home to the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) which consists of a number of sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics. At the center of the ring is the Olympic Stadium. Its exterior dates from 1929 but the interior of the stadium was completely rebuilt for the Olympics. Another structure from the 1992 Olympics is the Olympic Tower. Built by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the tower was built as the main communications tower for the coverage of the Olympic Games.

Some other sights included 'Dona i Ocell' Sculpture, The Central Fountain, The Watchtowers and the Olympic Rings!

We got off the bus at the Christopher Columbus Monument, which is at the bottom of La Rambla. The monument is placed at the site where Columbus arrived in 1493 after his discovery of America the year before. Then up the road for some shopping and dinner and of course more Sangria!!!!

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip! You are probably looking at it and asking yourself "WHY"? It is because of the story that goes with it! The three of us loved exploring all the side street, trying to find the hidden gems...well did we ever find it!! Jori had her camera out and was about to take a photo of one of the buildings when a random woman walked up to her and told her that no photos were allowed. When Jori asked her why, the woman put her hand on Jori's arm and said again, with intensity "No Photos Allowed!" The three of us began to walk away only to soon realize the street was FILLED with prostitutes!!!  Kim and I couldn't stop laughing and Jori was completely freaked by the "madam" touching her!!!!

Once we made it to safety (hahaa), we decided to check out  La Boqueria, which is a large public market in Barcelona with a very diverse selection of goods.



Dinner Time!!!

Flan for Three for Dessert!! Yummy!!!

The third day was yet again a full day. We started our day off with a trip to Sagrada Familia, which is a large Roman Catholic church, designed by Antoni Gaudí. Although incomplete, the church was consecrated in November 2010 and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. Construction passed the mid-point in 2010 with an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí's death. The inside is breathtaking and you truly feel a Heavenly presence within it's walls.

Next we headed in the direction of the Arc de Triomf. This beautiful arch was built for the 1888 Universal Exposition, which took place at the Parc de la Ciutadella. The Arc de Triomf, situated at the end of a wide promenade, served as the exposition's main entrance.

Here are a few more fun shots from the afternoon!

Next it was time for a fun filled night on the town! We got all glammed up, took pictures by the rooftop pool, then headed down to La Rambla for a Flamenco Dancing show. That Saturday night was also the night that Barcelona was playing Manchester United in the big football game in England. The city was alive with locals and tourists watching the game on the big screens placed throughout the city as well and in all the pubs and bars. You could feel the electricity in the air!!

We went to Flamenco Tablao Cordobés to see the Flamenco Dancing. It was a very intimate setting where only about 50-60 spectators were seated per show. It was an awesome experience, there was so much passion and intensity in their dancing, kept us on the edge of our seats!!! Here is the link to the website where you can see videos of some of the dancers.

BARCELONA WINS!!!!!!!!!!!! The street was alive with excitement over Barcelona's win...the cheers coming from the pubs came in waves throughout the street, such a great time to be there!

On our last full day we decided to head to the beach for a little sun and possibly a nap, seeing as we were out until 3am the night before!! What a treat to lay on the beach...not something I am doing in London!!

Our last night out we had dinner by the beach and splurged on a great seafood meal. We had every intention of making it an early night, however the sangria and conversation continued to flow. It was so great to sit and chat with two people who know me so well!! I know that we all had a fabulous time and now have memories that will last a lifetime!! Love you girls!!!