We got up late, with hangovers as a powerful reminder of the awesomeness of the pub crawl. We had breakfast and got off the ship to go stand in line for the bus out of the port. It was hot in Barcelona, and we didn’t feel like moving very quickly at all.
The bus dropped us off at the end of La Rambla. It was totally packed, and we weren’t sure how much of that was locals and how much tourists. It wasn’t quite lunchtime, but everyone was out walking around. Just a few blocks up, we met a couple Canadians who noticed our very Minnesotan tshirts (I had on a Twins shirt, and Matt was wearing his Rubio Timberwolves tshirt). They told us the Boqueria wasn’t far away, and that we had to check it out.
One of our goals in Barcelona was to find a Ricky Rubio caganer, so we peeked into all the little shops along the way. We saw a bunch of them for FC Barcelona players, but nothing for basketball. We were determined to find it somewhere!
(Also, there were guys selling noisemakers that sounded like crying babies all along La Rambla, and the sound still haunts me to this day.)
Halfway up La Rambla, we found the Boqueria. There was a shop out front with a million kinds of meat hanging from it, so I knew it was going to be a good day for Matt.
The Boqueria was crowded and fascinating. They had every kind of food there, and everything was arranged very invitingly: spices, candy, meat, and cheese.
We stopped to get a glass of cider and watch the crepes guy, who was really entertaining.
The back of the Boqueria seemed mostly dedicated to seafood. The smell was a little overpowering.
We stopped at a booth to get a cone of Iberico ham for Matt, and manchego cheese for me. It was definitely Matt’s best day ever. Nobody has ever been so thrilled to have a cone of ham.
We headed back out onto La Rambla and kept walking. We were going in the general direction of La Sagrada Familia, with a really crappy map to guide us. It was hot and we were dehydrated, and we had to go to the bathroom really badly as well. We finally stopped into a department store named Corte Ingles, figuring they would have a public restroom. We had to ride the escalator all the way up to the 9th floor, where were found the bathrooms inside a gigantic restaurant. There was a line, but it was still worth the trip. We were kind of desperate.
We stopped to check the map, and headed north again. We found Casa Battlo not far away, then turned right to go toward La Sagrada again. It looked like it was probably still a ways from there, but it was hard to tell.
It ended up being a REALLY long way, particularly for those who are hungover, hungry, and way too hot in the sun. We stopped to look at menus at several restaurants (Matt looked, I stared blankly), and decided against all of them. Finally, after what seemed like hours on our death march, we reached the intersection near the cathedral. We turned to head the couple of blocks that direction, and passed a restaurant that advertised traditional Catalan dishes, sandwiches, pizza and pasta, and pretty much anything else you could think of. We decided that was the place, and the lady working there sat us at a table on the sidewalk. We ordered two Estrella Damms, and finally everything was ok again. Plus we were within sight of La Sagrada Familia.
We ordered food (I got a pizza, which was even better than the traditional Roman ones, because it had manchego on it… Matt got a ham ‘long sandwich’ and patatas bravas), and sat there just being glad to be not walking in Barcelona. We also noticed the incredible noise… traffic, sirens, and jackhammering from construction. It never let up.
We found free wifi while we were sitting there, so we emailed to let people know where we were. Missy texted that Ryan and Chris had baby Robinson! Matt managed to get aioli from his patatas bravas on the lens of his cameraphone, which led to the important invention of Aioligram. (Take that, Instagram)
We felt 100 times better after eating lunch, so we decided it was time to go see La Sagrada. We had pre-purchased tickets that were supposed to allow us to skip the ticket line, but we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to go in. We finally decided we’d have to stand in the long line anyway. We were only there for a little while before one of the guys working there noticed our tickets and led us to the barcode scanner on the gate to let us in.
La Sagrada Familia was every bit as amazing and insane as we expected.
We toured the inside first, then went out to see the opposite facade, the one that looks like it’s melting.
After that, we went down the ramp to the basement of the building, where they had the museum and displays showing how Gaudi arrived at those designs. He was some kind of mad genius. You could also watch people working in the shop, building scale models and such.
We went to the store after that, and bought a bunch of La Sagrada souvenirs. Luckily we wouldn’t have to lug a bag around town on foot all day, because there was no possible way we were walking back to La Rambla. We headed to the metro station instead, and rode back.
We were in search of Blondie Bar, a punk-rock place that we’d read about beforehand. I had the address, but the location listed on the TripAdvisor map seemed totally wrong. (It’s an offline map, and we didn’t have internet access to look it up.) We knew the general area it was suppose to be in, though, so we started near the Boqueria and hoped to find it just by wandering.
That wasn’t working out very well. Finally, we noticed a zoomed-in map on a street sign, so we consulted that. It said the street we were searching for was actually on the other side of La Rambla, only a few blocks away. We walked over there and headed down a long pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants. It seemed like we’d gone way too far, but we still couldn’t find it. We finally noticed another street sign map, and we had indeed passed it a while back. Apparently it wasn’t a street so much as an alley.
We walked back and finally found the alley. It was dark and narrow, and it made me a little nervous to be wandering around alleys in Barcelona. But there was nobody around, and everything was very quiet. We realized that a lot of the garage doors we were passing were actually closed shops, so that didn’t bode well for the place we were looking for. We finally found a door covered in graffiti in the right spot, and Blondie Bar was indeed closed.
We kept wandering to see what was nearby, and saw a friendly-looking pub named Schilling a couple blocks away. We went in, sat at the bar, and ordered beers. We found an English-language magazine sitting there, so we paged through looking at local restaurant listings to figure out where we should go for dinner. We picked a place called Pink Elephant, and located it on my phone map. It was a couple miles away, so we headed back toward the metro. On the way there, we passed a souvenir shop and went inside to get all our tacky souvenir needs taken care of. Our biggest score? An Obama caganer for Colleen and Steve.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the restaurant and found it closed. I don’t know if that was because it was Monday, but there wasn’t much outside the touristy areas that seemed to be open in Barcelona.
It was getting late and I was tired of wandering around finding a bunch of closed businesses. While waiting for the metro, I noticed COCKROACHES GIGANTES wandering around in the gutters. So gross. We rode back to La Rambla, and decided to swing by Blondie Bar again to see if it was open later (lots of places are closed 3-7pm). It wasn’t, so we decided to head back to the ship. I was really tired of walking.
We stopped at the statue to take a picture of Bally’s visit along the way:
The bus was waiting there, so we hopped on and rode back with only a few other people. The sun was setting as we reached the ship.
Back on the ship, we walked in to find a crowd of people standing around looking confused, and the staff rushing in all directions. We caught the second half of an announcement from the captain telling the staff not to use the elevators, because that was the ‘marshalling area’. Suddenly a bunch of people in fire gear came running through and down the stairs, and that made us more than a little nervous.
We overheard someone saying there was smoke downstairs, but nobody was running around with their lifejackets on yet, so we decided to go to the cabin and wait. We found all of the fire doors closed on our floor, and they were really difficult to open. One area smelled a little like smoke, but there were no alarms or anything. If we were going to have a ship emergency, at least we could all just run back into Barcelona. That’s way better than out at sea.
In our cabin, we found a honeymoon card from the staff waiting for us, and our bed had been decorated with rose petals!
(The thought of our cabin steward, Ishmael, strewing rose petals around the room was hilarious.) There was a plate of candy, too, and someone had bought us a bottle of champagne. There was a card saying we would know who it was from, but we’d honestly met a bunch of people, any of whom could have done it. (We still don’t know who it was!)
The captain came back on the loudspeaker to say that there was a fire in one of the trash incinerators, but that the crew had it contained and that everything should be all clear within half an hour.
We went out to the balcony and watched the sunset over Barcelona. The captain came back on again shortly and said that everything was taken care of with the fire situation.
We decided to order dinner in that night, since we were worn out from the heat, the walking, and the previous night’s entertainment. We discovered that ordering a bottle of liquor for the room is an amazingly good deal, too, so we did that. It came with a few cans of pop, and we figured we could just buy more in port as well. You’re technically not supposed to drink it outside your room, but who can tell when you’re walking around with glassware from the bar?
We sat on the couch and had our multi-course dinner and some cocktails, and it was gloriously relaxing. We watched soccer on TV, then went out to the balcony to watch as we sailed from Barcelona around 11. It was actually slightly cold, which was a nice change. We drank champagne in the shower, then caught last half of the Big Lebowski on TV. That was an excellent ending to the night.
Before we went to bed, we set the clocks back an hour for Tunisia time, even though we wouldn’t be there until Wednesday!