We’ve made it to Europe!! – By Kelly
Crazy to think that we are here in Barcelona! And to top it off, Dave’s mom met us at the airport and is spending the month with us. We were all so happy to see a familiar face from home. We are also thankful that her Spanish is so good from having lived in Spain a few years ago 🙂
Our journey from Australia to Europe had a couple of stops to make it shorter and the jet lag easier to deal with. Our first stop was Singapore – such a great city that I wish we could have stayed longer. It was weird to be back in an Asian city, but this one was so clean and safe and different than anywhere else we had been in Asia. We spent 3 night and 2 full days and were able to enjoy some pool time as well as a trip to the Gardens by the Bay. This was a really amazing, massive garden in the middle of the city. We got to see the Supertree Grove with giant “trees” that have large canopies and gardens growing up the stems. We were able to walk along the skyway between the trees to see the gardens below and the city beyond.
The best thing was the Cloud Forest – an indoor conservatory with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall – very refreshing after the heat and humidity outside – and a mountain 35 meters tall covered with tropical vegetation. The walk down from the top takes you in and out of the mountain – a really unique experience.
The best part of Singapore, however, was staying at our friend Anneliese’s house with her kids, Grady and Sophia. We went to college with Anneliese and when she heard we were going to be in Singapore, offered to let us stay with her. What a treat!
It was so nice to reconnect with her and meet her wonderful kids who were very cool about us taking over their home. They took us to traditional Hawker food stalls our first night with stall after stall of delicious Chinese food (wish we took pictures). We had pork and rice, duck, something called carrot cake that was not sweet, nor did it have carrots, but it was delicious!! The next night we went to enjoy crab at Jumbo – spicy crab, salt and pepper crab, fried rice and no kids for a change 🙂
From Singapore we landed in Dubai. A different place for sure – basically desert with tall buildings – amazing buildings, futuristic buildings, the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall. When the sun was coming up, it looked a lot like a scene from Star Wars.
We didn’t see much of Dubai, not did we take part in the desert safari or the indoor skiing – it was more of a layover and a check it out to see what it was like kind of stop. We also got to see Dave’s cousin, Elgin, who lives in Dubai and works as a Sous Chef at the Ritz Carlton. We met him for lunch at the hotel – something special for sure. We were treated to a delicious lunch, over the top desserts and a tour of the kitchen, which after all the cooking shows and competitions we have seen on this trip, was quite cool.
We finally made it to Barcelona where we have had to acclimate to the cold weather and shop for some winter clothes – all good since I am now tired of what I have worn the last 6 months. We spent our first two days down in Plaza Catalunya – only a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb apartment – shopping and checking out Las Ramblas.
Oh, yes, and we also needed to stop for churros con chocolate. Dave’s mom was able to ask directions to a good place for the tasty treat and we were not disappointed. Granja la Pallaresa on a little side street off Las Ramblas seemed old school with waiters wearing bow ties depositing plates of churros and chocolate so thick that it is just meant for dipping at tables full of tourists and locals alike. It seemed almost to me like Spain’s version of San Francisco’s Buena Vista, only here they serve up sweet treats instead of Irish Coffees.
We’ve had tapas and paella, jamon and machego and sangria. Plus we have an amazing market across the street with different vendors – butchers, fruits and veggies stalls, a bakery and a florist. We go everyday except Sunday when the city closes down to buy what we need for the day. A bonus is that they like helping us with our Spanish. Love this living!
I have walked the streets and walked the streets some more. Yesterday I went to La Sagrada Familia in the morning just to take a look. I was happy to be there before the crowds when the sun was just coming up. I was one of only a few at the reflecting pool and had a chance to just take it all in.
I knew I was too early to go inside, so I continued my walk to the other two Gaudi buildings walking distance from our apartment – Casa Batllo and Casa Pedrera. Both beautiful from the outside.
The main streets are beautiful, wide, tree lined, with wide sidewalks for exploring. Dave’s mom and I walked Passeig de Gracia looking at all the beautiful shops, we hit Rambla de Catalunya one night for dinner. Dave and I also happened upon Spain’s Arc de Triomf when we went out one afternoon walking down Passeig de Sant Joan. There were mini parks and benches all the way down the street.
All of this is walking distance from where we are staying. I could walk these European streets for hours. It’s so different from anything we have seen on our journey so far, plus it’s been a long time since I’ve been here. The other buildings along the way are just as pretty in their own way – wrought iron balconies, carvings and paintings on the facades, many showing their Catalan pride with flags hanging down.
Today we ventured into Casa Battlo and what an experience! This is a building designed by the famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. He was an amazing architect and so different from anything else I’ve ever seen. He uses curved lines, beautiful colors in glass and mosaic tiles, and creates almost fairy tale like structures on the rooftops.
It was a great tour we all enjoyed. Tomorrow we are heading out to go to La Sagrada Familia. Our days here will be filled. We are happy to be settling down in Barcelona for 3 weeks – one of which is already gone. It’s nice to be able to get to know a city and neighborhood. We haven’t taken to the Spanish way of staying up late, but the siesta is always a good habit to adopt. The twins and I are home right now for siesta – taking a break, reading a book and catching up on our blog.