Part 6 of Our Spanish Road Trip:
Last week, I shared our experiences in Alicante and Valencia, Spain. Now, I’ll share the story of our final stop in Spain: Barcelona.
We arrived early in the morning from Alicante and after checking into our hotel, decided to do some exploring. We started off with the Rambla and just sort of wandered around. This area is one of the main tourist areas and is a sort of open air mall and is home to the famous La Boqueria market. As we wandered, we spotted Palau Guell, one of the famous Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. The house was certainly something else, but we decided not to tour it.
At the end of the Rambla, we found ourselves at the Christopher Columbus monument and the sea. After enjoying the view of the ocean, we grabbed a cab to another area of Barcelona and discovered a chocolate museum. The museum was in Spanish but there were lots of statues and dioramas made from chocolate, apparently for a chocolate competition in Barcelona. It was neat to see how detailed and intricate the creations were. After the museum, we wandered for a bit more and found that Barcelona also has an Arc de Triomf.
At this point in the day, we were a bit hot and tired, so we headed back to our hotel for an afternoon break. Since our hotel was quite close by, we decided to visit Montjuic and the magic fountains in the evening once the temperature had started to cool down a bit. While we didn’t see it lit up at night, the fountain was still quite the sight! There was a fountain down on street level and several other fountains and water features up the hill. At the top of the hill was the Palau Nacional, a museum. We worked our way up the hill and were really glad for the two escalators since it was quite the climb.
At the top of Montjuic, we discovered that we could pay 3 euros and ride and elevator to the roof of the Palau Nacional. Once we got to the top, we were glad we’d discovered the elevator because the view was spectacular. Soon, we headed down to bed to rest up for the next day.
The next day, we didn’t do much sight-seeing in the morning because we had booked a cooking class (which I’ll share next week). Before our class, the chefs teaching it took us through the La Boqueria market for a tour and to buy all the ingredients for class. The market was really amazing; there were tons of stalls full of fresh fruits and vegetables and meat stalls of all varieties. I really wish we had a market like this where we live.
After our cooking class, we had booked tickets to tour the Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by Gaudi. It is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world and we were really glad to have reserved tickets ahead of time so we didn’t have to wait in the line around the block. I wasn’t sure I would like the church very much based on the outside, but I really liked the inside. I was surprised that it is one of my favorite churches inside! It was beautiful and light and airy.
After visiting the Sagrada Familia, we were pretty worn out from a long day wandering around Barcelona and a long two weeks on vacation. We got to bed early so we could be on the road first thing in the morning for the long drive home and a few stops along the way.
Our first stop on the drive home was Montserrat, which is a beautiful mountain and monastery near Barcelona. The mountain is most famous for its monastery which is home to the Black Virgin Mary, a statue of the Virgin Mary discovered by some local children whose wood has become blackened. Some even claim this mountain is the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian legends.
The mountain and the view from the mountain were both beautiful and I can see why the monastery was founded there. While the mountain is also a famous place to go hiking, we didn’t have time for that since we were on our way home. We did, however, visit the Monastery and the statue of the Virgin Mary. We were lucky to arrive early in the day since we saw several bus-loads of pilgrims coming to the monastery on our way out.
After visiting the monastery, our next stop was in the small country of Andorra for lunch. Andorra is very small, but very beautiful and the food is an interesting mixture of French and Spanish. After lunch, we made good time on the way home and stopped for a break at the Millau Viaduct in France. We had seen photos of the viaduct and were very impressed by it in real life. It is a very large bridge (12th largest in the world) which was built to ease traffic problems in the town of Millau.
We enjoyed getting to stretch our legs at the Millau Viaduct rest area, but didn’t stay long since we wanted to try to make it home that evening. We made it home around 12:30 am exhausted after the long day. Since we made it home a day early (since we drove home in one day rather than two), we were able to catch the fireworks at the end of the Fetes de Geneve the next evening.
Next week, I talk all about our cooking class in Barcelona! In case you missed it, read about the earlier parts of our Spanish road trip:
Part 6: Barcelona & Montserrat (you are here!)