Okay, well this is definitely not Barcelona. It’s Portland. And Steve. And a statue of former governor Vic Atiyeh. But it’s sort of whimsical, don’t you think? And it marks the beginning of our big adventure and it seemed like just the right sort of photo to say “Here we go!”
We left out of Redmond early, early, way way early in the morning and flew to Portland where we had a five-hour wait for a 10-hour flight to Amsterdam, a two-hour wait for our two-hour trip to Barcelona and finally – at the moment when we all were certain we would collapse from travel fatigue and too many in-flight movies, we arrived. The Barcelona airport is dazzling. Truly. It’s a thing of beauty and Mecca for fancy-pants shopping. This would be a great place for a picture of the airport, but no. I was too tired to remember I had a camera.
What followed on that first day was slow-motion blur of activity defined primarily by a monumental language barrier and bone-deep weariness. After 24 hours of traveling, we were pretty well done with adventure for the day. We ate a little dinner, took a walk, tried to stay awake in a valiant attempt to adjust to the time change and then…passed right on out at 8:30. Now, 8:30 in America is a totally different animal than 8:30 in Barcelona. Barcelona still honors the concept of siesta so the whole place was very alive, awake and ready to party just as we were putting on jammies. It’s okay, though, we gotta be us, you know?
We woke up the next morning feeling like new people and ready to find…COFFEE.
It’s beautiful in any language. (Sorry about the blurry photo…we couldn’t bring Tess.)
We walked to a darling cafe around the corner from our hotel and…fell in love.
Here, Casey shows us one of the delights (ham and cheese croissant!) from this bustling bakery. For the love! This place was filled with the most amazing pastries, sandwiches, flatbread with all sorts of delicious toppings and a truly life-changing cup of coffee. Life. Changing! Oh, we had the best EVER time at the Cafe365 and will undoubtedly return many times before we leave the city.
I love the markets here.
And I love loving the markets with the people I love:
Another thing I love? (I know – there’s MORE!)
Our hotel. It’s on the last stop of the Metro so it’s a good thirty minutes from downtown, but the thing is: have you ever priced a European hotel room? They are two things: outrageously small and unbelievably expensive. For our little band of travelers, having room to relax is a big deal. Corey did a lot of research and found the Hotel Hesperia Fira (try saying that to a cab driver without laughing.)
I love it. It’s sleek and sophisticated and – yes – shiny.
It has a living room and a little dining area and even a tiny kitchen.
And you know how hotel rooms usually have a Gideon Bible and a TV guide? This is the reading material on our coffee table:
And my big Barcelonan surprise? This medicine cabinet in the bathroom:
I opened it, hoping to find the little shampoo bottles that American hotel rooms have. What I found instead?
Yep. The medicine cabinet was a window. Fun!
So far, the trip has been amazing and I can’t wait to jump on the metro and find the heart of the city. (Incidentally, the best inspiration you’ll ever find for taking the metro in Barcelona is…taking a taxi. Our driver spoke no English but wanted to explain how many children and grandchildren he had, so he – I do not kid – drew pictures on a tablet of paper while he was driving very fast through traffic. At least he wasn’t texting!)
Okay, that’s it for me for now. And before anyone encourages me to get off the computer and enjoy my vacation, let me just say: blogging is me enjoying my vacation. I love reliving and recapping the story and I love to read it later. I’ve tried waiting to write it all down when I get home, but it’s not the same. So. That’s my story. Thanks for your prayers and love – Steve is doing great and we’re loving nearly every minute.