On Saturday morning we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Barcelona. We had wanted to take the high speed train to Barcelona (it takes about 3 hours) so we could enjoy the scenery along the way. But, they had no tickets left when we were looking into it, so we got plane tickets instead. The flight was short and uneventful. We arrived in Barcelona and made our way to our hotel which was right on La Rambla - Barcelona's main drag. It was very convenient, and after checking into our hotel we realized that the price they charged for the hotel must have been for its convenience because it certainly wasn't for the accommodations. We didn't complain, though, because it was very nice to be able to walk outside the hotel doors and be in the middle of the main tourist area.
By the time we got checked in, it was later in the afternoon, so we decided to head out to see Barcelona's big attraction - La Sagrada Familia. I'm not sure what to call it. Cathedral, temple, church - take your pick. I think any of those titles could suffice. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi who, I have come to realize, must have been a strange dude. Anyway, La Sagrada Familia is a huge church/cathedral/temple that is still under construction. Gaudi died before it was completed, so they're now trying to finish it per his designs. So, we got to La Sagrada Familia and paid our Euros to get in. And, it cost many Euros to get in. After looking around for a few minutes and realizing that most of the building was off limits because of the construction, we felt seriously ripped off.
After our disappointment at La Sagrada Familia, it was off to the next landmark - an apartment building also designed by Gaudi and also very whacky. La Pedrera. Fortunately, this building was in a major shopping district in Barcelona, so after checking it out, we shopped our way back to the hotel. It was mostly window shopping, but I did buy a pair of Camper shoes which I love. Please note, the building was open for tours, but it was outrageously expensive (cost almost double what La Sagrada Familia was) so Mr. Frisby and I just admired it from the street. We definitely felt we were nickle and dimed a lot in Barcelona while we didn't feel that was the case in Madrid. We also found that Barcelona was just more expensive than Madrid in general. I guess that's just how it is in the big tourist cities. But, we had a good time regardless.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at some other crazy buildings designed by the Spanish modernistas.
We also stopped for dinner at a hip tapas joint recommended by our guide book. I should've taken pictures of the food, but I didn't want to detract from the hipness of the place by looking like the paparazzi. We quickly realized that they speak a different language in Barcelona - Catalan. And Catalan is not like Spanish. My Portuguese gets me by when Spanish is the predominant language. It does nothing to help me understand Catalan. So, when we sat down to eat, we looked at our menus and realized they were written in Catalan. We had no idea what any of it meant, so we just sat there until the waiter came and asked if we were ready to order (he was speaking English to us - thank goodness!). We laughed and told him we didn't understand the menu, so he brought us an English menu and then translated the specials for us. And, here we fell victim to assuming that something in one country is the same as it is in another country. Take Calamari for instance. The waiter highly recommended to us what he called "calamari". I'm not a huge seafood fan, but Mr. Frisby likes it and I can actually handle calamari okay. So, we ordered it. What we got was not calamari. It was definitely squid, but it was not calamari. It was basically entire little baby squids. Mr. Frisby loved them. I didn't. Then we ordered the artichoke, thinking it would be some sort of roasted artichoke with dip like we might see in any number of restaurants here in the states. It was not. This was a deep fried artichoke which basically made it artichoke chips. Not so tasty. But, we had a good time and enjoyed experiencing a different culture. After we ate it was getting late, so we headed back to the hotel after a busy first day in Barcelona.