Our time in Barcelona was super short, but we made the most of it. Kyle booked an overnight layover there on our way to Basel to visit Rachel, Tammo, and Lucca, so we had 27 hours.
The Vueling flight from Porto was short and easy. We arrived and checked into a hostel on the Passeig de Gràcia. The location was superb, the hostel was very so-so. Nice common area, but a tiny, stuffy bunk room. It was fine since we were only in there to sleep.
Kyle picked up lunch tacos down the street at Taquerias Tamarindo. Not the typical first meal in Spain, but it was close by, and open, and we were very hungry. It was a lucky choice, the tacos were delicious, and we ended up eating there again the next day before we left.
We had tickets to visit the Sagrada Familia in the late afternoon, and to visit the Nativity Tower. In a stroke of bad luck/timing, the elevator to the tower was broken that day, so our visit wasn’t possible. The basilica itself did not disappoint, though. The last time I was there was 1996, and a LOT has changed in 22 years. The plan is to finish all 18 towers by 2026, which seems aggressive given it has taken 136 years so far and only eight towers are complete. The building has a fascinating history – this 99% Invisible podcast tells the story much better than I could. Max and Henry were both awed by the scale and the beauty, at least for the first 15 minutes. It was a hot day and we had been up early to fly from Porto, so at about the 30-minute mark both boys were starting to wilt and asking every two minutes when we were leaving. In true Kyle style, he had wandered off taking pictures (which is occasionally alarming, but the results are always worth it).
When we were finally a four-person unit again, I promised we were leaving but just wanted to check out the museum quickly. That turned out to be worthwhile, especially the view into the modeling studio. The boys would have loved to try out the huge 3D printers they have in there.
We headed out toward Gasterea, a small tapas bar in the Gràcia neighborhood that came recommended (via his lovely mother Sara) by Ben, Max’s buddy since just about birth. The food was tasty, the beer was cold, and it was close enough to the hostel that we decided to walk back.
In that way that often happens when traveling, we inadvertently wandered into the Festa Major de Gràcia, an annual local festival that involves a competition among neighbors for the best decorated street.
In the midst of the surprise street festival, we also stumbled upon Cereal House – Vila da Gràcia. Max and Henry were dumbfounded – it was like all of their favorite things wrapped into one sugar bomb package. Even though I had sworn we wouldn’t be having dessert, I caved pretty much immediately.
The next morning we were up early for our 9:30am timed entry to Parc Güell. The park is impressive, and I think I could stay there many hours on a spring or fall day, when the heat isn’t such a factor.
As it was, the when-can-we-leaves started up again so we took a car back to the Passeig de Gràcia. While we waited for the taco shop to open for lunch, we spent a good half hour at Lush, which both Max and Henry just loved. They got to try soaps and powdered mouthwashes, and even learned a little about mixing fresh ingredients for facials. Now if I could only get them to shower voluntarily.
After lunch we checked out Plaça de Catalunya, wandered around in the air-conditioned toy department at El Corte Inglés, and then made our way to the airport. Our flight to Basel was also short and easy, but this time on easyJet, so we had to do some creative packing to turn our already crammed five carry-on pieces into four. They do not mess around with their “one piece per person” limit.
The last few days have been spent enjoying family, relaxing, and appreciating the quiet of the semi-rural community outside of Basel where my cousin lives. We’ve leased a car for the next two months, so we’ve also had a crash course in the various and complicated signage on the streets and roads here. I may never figure out the parking signs. We leave today, which I’m a little sad about, but looking forward to exploring Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in Germany over the next week or so.