I thought we'd finally solved jet lag. Having never gotten to a European destination in the morning I thought if we powered through the first day, took a short nap, and went to bed at a normal time that we would be able to jump into the new time zone. I was sadly mistaken. We went to bed at a reasonable hour but then woke up in the middle of the night (2AM) bright eyed and ready for the day. Probably sounds familiar if you've read about any of our past Europe trips.
After we gave up going back to sleep we watched the news on CNN and ended up watching a couple episodes of a show called UnREAL. It's a dramatization of how its like to put on the show The Bachelor. It's over the top but at the same time fascinating to see how a show like The Bachelor is produced and made into entertaining television. At around 8AM Jenn started to get ready for the day while I went for a run along the boardwalk.
Our first big stop of the day was a three hour "side-car" tour that we booked. Our tour guide picked us up at our hotel at 9:30 AM and we got to sit on his motorcycle/side-car and take in all of the highlights of Barcelona for 3 hours. For the majority of the ride Jenn took the side-car and I rode on the back of the bike. Our helmets were equipped with a microphone and headset so we could easily communicate with each other during the ride. Most of the sights on the tour we saw in 2010, but it was great having the perspective of seeing everything on the bike. We went through the Olympic Stadium, through much of the heart of the city, walked around the Sagrada Familia, and even the Arc de Triumph something we didn't see last time.
What we enjoyed most about the tour (which we booked through Bright Side Tours) was having a local give his perspective on different neighborhoods, culture, and inner-conflicts. It's that sort of perspective you don't normally get on a tour. It was interesting to learn how prideful people in Barcelona are about their neighborhoods. Or that Barcelona would not really be a big tourist destination had it not been for the 1992 Olympics. The three hours on the bike flew by and it was one of the best tours either of us have ever taken. I feel like I got more out of Barcelona in the 3 hours on the tour then the entire week we experienced Barcelona in 2010. I also can't tell you how many people waved at us, took pictures of us, and all around gawked at us taking the sidecar tour. It was a great experience with an incredible tour guide. Thanks Mathias (our tour guide)!
After our tour ended we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Our tour guide gave us some "must try tapas" and so we basically ordered his three favorites. We started off with potatoes with a spicy red sauce. I wanted to label today's post "Best Potatoes Ever" but Jenn thought I might be going a little overboard on my love for these potatoes and hot sauce. They were basically just glorified hashbrowns with a sour cream and hot sauce but gosh they were delicious. Our second tapas was meatballs which came in a delicious gravy and came with french fries. Our final tapas which was the most flavorful was the garlic shrimp. Honestly I could have gone for another round of all three tapas.
We left the restaurant and walked maybe 200 ft before stumbling into a gelato shop. How would it be a Europe trip without gelato? Jenn got a cone with vanilla and pistachio. I've got to say that's a huge step forward from Jenn. In 2010 it was all vanilla. Now at least she's expanded to pistachio as well. I got the coffee and tiramisu gelato. It wasn't the caliber of gelato that you get in Italy but it still hit the spot. We walked back to our hotel after and ended up taking yet another "power nap". Or as I like to call it a complete pass out for a couple of hours.
We woke up again at around 5:30 PM once again feeling pretty groggy. Luckily we had already booked a food lovers tour for the evening which forced us to get out of bed, get ready, and go out for the evening. When we booked the trip and knew we'd be coming back to Barcelona the one thing we wanted to experience in its fullest was tapas. We did a few on our first trip out here but not nearly to the extent we wanted to. Plus Jenn is a thousand times more adventurous with her eating habits then she was in 2010. We did some research and found a tour called The Food Lovers Tapas Tour and without hesitation booked it.
We left our hotel at 7PM and took a taxi to Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera). We met up with our tour guide and the rest of our food lover group. We got a quick history lesson on Casa Milà and were off to our three restaurant tour. The first restaurant was around a ten minute walk and was considered true authentic old school tapas. We had olives, cheeses, bread with tomatoes, mushrooms and sausages. They also gave us each a nice glass of Sangria. It's funny I've never had Sangria but its pretty great. Everything at the first restaurant was great. Even things like mushrooms which I normally despise were actually pretty great. The highlight for me here though was the sausages both Jenn and I adored that dish.
We walked another ten minutes to our second stop, a fish tapas restaurant. The one downside to this place is it wasn't nearly as fancy as both the first and final restaurant. That wasn't a problem because the food far and away made up for the ambience. Here we had all fish tapas so anchovies, octopus, shrimp and mussels. They also had a Spanish white wine which tasted like a Chardonnay. It was a perfect combo with the white wine. The highlight here was the shrimp, octopus and mussels. Yes even the mussels were great and I don't usually love them.
We were running a little behind schedule so our second stop was somewhat abbreviated. We just were having too much fun at the first place. The final restaurant though was the real stand out. It was considered the new modern tapas. And wow was it out of this world. Some of the best food I've ever had. There was a modern take on the octopus tapas, we had a ox tail (which was a first and was amazing), an unbelievable mushroom risotto, steak with peppers and potatoes, and a dessert round with chocolate tortillas and bread pudding. With our dinner was an incredibly large bottle of red wine (Costco size) that we polished off and got another. Our tour guide said that most of his groups never finish the first bottle.
By this point our group which was with two older couples traveling together had gotten very close and were truly enjoying the evening. It was a great group to experience the marvel that is Spanish cuisine. It was an incredible night and one that I don't think anyone wanted to end. Trust me if my stomach had more capacity I would have wanted seconds of pretty much everything that was on the table. It was an amazing night, we left the last restaurant at around 11:30 and took a taxi back to our hotel and finally went to be bed at the start of our last day in Barcelona.
I've said this before but there is nothing better in the world then a good glass of wine, great food, and even better conversation. It was a day I'll never forget. If you'll excuse me I'm going to go try to find some more of those amazing potatoes from lunch and some more of that mushroom risotto from dinner now.