Thursday, July 26, 2012

Barcelona - Day 1

We spent 4 days in Barcelona in April... and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it. Here's Day 1:

Friday, April 6th

We flew Vueling Airlines from Paris (Orly airport) to Barcelona and had no issues with the flight.  It wasn’t luxurious by any means, but for a short flight it was quite fine.
Orly Airport; waiting for departure
Arriving at Barcelona airport, our first mission was to purchase a SIM card for an unlocked phone we’d brought along so that we could contact my sister (who was meeting us at our rental apartment later in the evening).  We found an electronics store and purchased a SIM card for 7EU.  It seemed to be simple enough to activate with the help of the store clerk, so we left the store and went to find our luggage.

We called our apartment rental company, You Stylish, to alert them we were at the airport and on our way and then proceeded to follow the signs to the buses.  We purchased tickets in person for the Aerobus to take us from the airport down to Plaza Catalunya.  It takes a little over half an hour and costs 9.75EU roundtrip. It’s a very easy and cheap alternative to a taxi (which we read can cost up to 30EU just one way). The ride was pretty quick and uneventful.  Once we got off, we oriented ourselves with my pullout map and found our rental apartment within a couple of minutes.  A little while later we were checked into our apartment.

Here’s our apartment, B232 on You Stylish’s website.  We had a slight issue when booking (the original apartment we’d booked was doubled booked, so we were moved to B232 apartment at a discounted rated.  The apartment cost us ~$267 USD/night for three of us).
Living space; I bought the flowers at a market
Kitchen/door into apt
Mr. Sister's bunk room
Master Bedroom
At this point, I tried calling my sister but kept getting an error voice message when trying to dial out.  The apartment had free WIFI, so I hopped on the ipad and sent her an email with our phone number (which was assigned to the phone when we purchased the SIM card).   Since her flight wasn’t supposed to land for another two hours, we decided to venture out a little bit before her arrival.
We easily found Las Ramblas, which is a pedestrian only street with hordes of tourists and vendors.  However, since it was Good Friday, there was a procession going on, which was absolutely beautiful.
 After finding a small health market and grabbing some wine, cheese and bread to take back to the apartment, we headed home.  We were greeted at the door of the apartment building complex by a grumpy, pretty much irate Mr. Sister.  It turned out her flight landed earlier than anticipated and in my email I left her I’d accidentally forgotten a digit to the phone number; so she’d been waiting by herself for about 30 minutes. Whoops.  The only thing to fix this situation was wine; thank God we’d bought the wine.
Once everyone had calmed down, we decided to head out for dinner.  What better option than tapas for our first night in Spain?  A friend had been to Barcelona twice and recommended Cerveceria Catalana.  It was close (located in L’ Exiample neighborhood) by so we headed that direction and easily found it by the crowd waiting outside.  It was about 8:30pm and we were told a 45 minute wait for three people, so we put on name on the list and decided to walk around a bit. 
Cerveceria Catalana

We found Passieg de Gracia, which is a shopping street with several high end stores, like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, etc. We also located some of Gaudi’s masterpieces, Casa Mila/La Pedera and Casa Batllo (more on these later). 

After exploring some, we headed back for dinner.  We grabbed a picture of sangria to share before being called to our table.  Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of our food, but everything we tried was fabulous. Although I don’t like to think about how inhumanely it was raised, the veal was excellent.  We also enjoyed:  brie with fruit, potatas bravas (my staple favorite Spanish tapas, spicy potatoes).  We were so full that we couldn’t even fathom having dessert.  The best part?  The meal was something like 67EU for the three of us; including wine and sangria. Score!

After dinner we headed home; being that clubs are really our scene and we were all eager to get to bed for a busy Saturday.

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