October 03, 2016

Barcelona Honeymoon: Day One

In my last post, I went over all of the newfangled internet-age details of our wedding, which were a serious priority to me as a sometimes blogger. So today, I thought I'd talk about our second most serious priority: our honeymoon.

(Of course, the honeymoon happened after the wedding, which I do plan on writing about once we get all of our pictures back. My deepest apologies, however, if you're a little confused—and/or not impressed—by my jumbled timeline.)

Anyway, as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, Derrick and I made the decision to skip your typical beach resort honeymoon for a trip to Barcelona. On one hand, this was sort of sad because this is 26 years running now that I don't have a picture of me kissing a dolphin.

I do, however, have this picture of me with a European pigeon. So I guess life does balance itself out.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today's post is not about the day I posed with a pigeon; today is about Day One.

Now, technically, I guess Day One was the Sunday we boarded the plane to Barcelona, at least if you had asked the two teenagers four rows ahead of us who were snickering about being "in international waters." (Then again, I'm not sure they were to be trusted, based on their snickering and the fact that we were not, in fact, in international waters.)

But that would be a lame post consisting mostly of me not crying (okay, crying) during Me Before You and sleeping (okay, trying to sleep) for about 36 minutes before arriving (eight hours of flight plus six hours of time difference later) at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport around 9:00 AM Monday morning. So I'll skip that and fast forward to the real Day One, beginning at the moment we arrived at our home for the trip, Hotel Bagues.

Now, I'd like to say that we are composed world travelers who do not lose our sh*t over moderately upscale destinations. But, guys, Hotel Bagues was really effing cool. And we lost our sh*t.

The hotel was right on La Rambla, one of the major "touristy" roads in Barcelona. Think Magnificent Mile in Chicago, only with more intricate architecture and without the random whiffs of urine. Our room overlooked the Parroquia de la Mare de Deu de Betlem, a church that we didn't actually go inside but did spend a good amount of time staring at from our window. Because, well, look at it.

The best thing about the hotel though? The huge, white terry cloth robes "for us to enjoy during our stay." And enjoy we certainly did.

If it were up to me, the first four hours after arriving would have been spent lounging around the room, terry clothed and comatose. However, we had no time for terry clothed lounging because Derrick had booked a tour that morning of Camp Nou, the stadium where FC Barcelona plays.

Derrick was absolutely thrilled about getting to see the stadium and I was still alive, so despite it being five AM Florida-time, we were doing okay. Actually, the only thing we would've changed about the tour is that the stadium was, you know, open.

Unfortunately, however, it was not. Even more unfortunate was that the lady at the stadium ticket counter spoke Catalan.

Derrick tried to figure out why the stadium was closed, but after he finished speaking with the Catalan woman, he had the look of someone who's just read an IKEA furniture manual: maybe he knows what's going on, or maybe his brain is oozing out of his eyeballs.

Either way, we didn't get the tour. We did, however, get this solid, only marginally photobombed shot of us in front of a picture of the stadium.

Once we got back within Hotel Bagues's free wifi range, we learned that the stadium was closed because FC Barcelona was playing in a Champions League game there the next day. And after giving me a brief overview of the history, regulations, and cultural impact of the Champions League, Derrick informed me that going to this game would be a once in a lifetime opportunity that we absolutely could not miss. 

Now, normally, I wouldn't be pumped about the idea of a soccer game on vacation, let alone our honeymoon. But I'm a married woman now, so I understand the dynamics of a healthy relationship.

In other words, strategic bartering.

So I agreed to go to the soccer game if I got to choose where we ate for dinner the other four nights, which Derrick somehow miraculously agreed to.

So while Derrick napped, I did some intensive Yelp research on dinner that night. Eventually, I decided on Alcoba Azul, which, according to Keith P.'s raving review, had "pretty good food" and a "cool interior." Even better, Google said that Alcoba Azul was only a five-minute walk from our hotel through the Gothic Quarter.

What Google didn't tell me, however, was how incredible that five-minute walk would be.

The Gothic Quarter is apparently the center of the "old city" of Barcelona, where it's easy to stumble across something as amazing as the Barcelona Cathedral above. (We came across it by accident and it literally took my breath away.)

I would have stayed all night taking pictures of it if it hadn't been for the strange woman dressed as a ghost (who wouldn't stop deliberately photobombing and subsequently demanding money for said photobombs).

Actually, normally, I might have stuck around anyway. But, as you can tell from the pictures, Derrick and I were both running on fumes at that point and had no patience whatsoever for photobombing ghouls.

Instead, we continued through the tiny Gothic alleys until we found Alcoba Azul, the smallest, darkest, most glorious little place I had ever seen. We sat inside next to a group of Scottish teenagers (who were surprisingly helpful when Derrick and I were determining if and how to tip abroad) and enjoyed the best Spain had to offer: me with some pork and fig jam pâté, and Derrick with some nachos.

(As you can tell, we have some differences in opinion when it comes to trying new foods.)

What we did agree on, however, was that the pitcher of sangria was delicious and deserved to be finished, a decision that may have affected the rest of our evening. (For example, our spur of the moment decision to be roped into the not-blog-appropriate "Erotic Museum" on the walk home, which offered a free glass of champagne and an extremely questionable gift shop.)

When I went to bed that night, I was legitimately worried that we had peaked too soon. You know, that the first day was so good, things could only go downhill from there.

I was wrong, of course. But that's a story for another day.