I know it’s August now, but I’m still working through the last 6 months of my Juarez tour, so bear with me!
Two of our best friends from Juarez got married in Barcelona over Christmas. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it work financially and logistically, but after a bit of research and some math, it actually worked out to be a pretty affordable option. I flew from Juarez back to DC on the 21st of December and after spending Christmas Eve wandering DC in the snow, we had a lovely Christmas breakfast at home and headed to the airport. Our flight was supposed to leave from National Airport, but of course after sitting at the gate for 2 hours the flight was cancelled and we were rerouted on a later flight from Dulles. So we reclaimed our bags and headed out to the taxi line. The new flight put us transiting through Heathrow which was an exciting first for me, but the delay in departure meant that we arrived in Barcelona more than 12 hours after our originally slated arrival time. When you only have a 5 day trip including transit time, 12 hours makes a big difference, so I was pretty peeved about the whole thing.
But once we got to Barcelona my annoyance melted away and I fell in love with the city. It is seriously cute. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk from Sagrada Familia, so we took advantage of that and went for a late night stroll to see the church lit up. It was gorgeous, simply beautiful, and after seeing it in the dark I was pumped to get to see it in daylight.
The next day (Friday) we met up with the bride, groom, and some other out-of-towners and went on a guided tour of the Barrio Gotica and La Rambla. The groom is a Barcelona native, so he knew all kinds of interesting tidbits about the city and he gave us great recommendations for tasty treats in the open-air market. As Spain is a Catholic country, the Christmas season lasts through Epiphany so the whole city was decked out in holiday lights and wreaths. The Barrio Gotic is super old and just packed with cute shops and gorgeous churches. After the tour, we went back to the hotel for a nap and then headed back out into town around 9 for dinner. We ate delicious tapas and drank amazing wine and we ended the night at Caelum, a coffee/pastry shop that also sells jams, jellies, and liqueurs made in local monasteries. We spent a long time trying to find the perfect gifts for some foodie friends and finally decided on some bitters and a jam sampler. YUM.
On Saturday we headed to Sagrada Familia to do the guided tour. The line was INSANE. Like, half a mile down the block insane, and we spent probably a good 2 hours just standing there waiting to get tickets. But it was totally, completely, 100% worth the wait. Gaudi was such a visionary and the way he incorporated plant biology and cell-structure into the cathedral is just astonishing. The stained glass is similarly phenomenal and since it was mid-morning by the time we finally got inside, the lighting was incredible. The whole interior just glows, quite literally, and it’s almost entirely done with natural light. It was really windy, so the tower tours were cancelled, so someday I’m going to have to go back to see the view. I can imagine how amazing it is, but it’s just one of those things I need to see in person.
After the tour, we stopped for chocolate and churros and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. The wedding site was in a restaurant on the top of a hill and the traffic pattern up the hill is a bit confusing so we had to pull out our phones and google map it for the taxi driver, because he kept driving past the turn off (he didn’t think the road went all the way through). We made it to the wedding with minutes to spare, but being literally the last guests to arrive meant that there weren’t any seats left together so we had to sit separately. Kind of a bummer, especially for such a romantic wedding but it was our own fault so we weren’t too torn up about it.
The ceremony was done in English and Catalan and it was truly one of the most intimate, romantic ceremonies I’ve ever attended. I took a bunch of pictures but I don’t like posting pictures of people without their permission so I’m not going to share any of them, but trust me, it doesn’t get much more romantic than a candlelit ceremony on a mountain in Barcelona. Post wedding we enjoyed a fantastic dinner, delicious cake, and countless glasses of yummy Spanish wine and cava. After the wedding (about 2 a.m.) all the friends/siblings of the bride and groom piled into taxis and headed downtown to dance the night away. We showed up at what is supposed to be one of the hottest clubs in Barcelona, but they wouldn’t let us in because the men in our group (this is a direct quote) “looked too fancy” and no amount of pleading and explaining could change the bouncers mind. We were all baffled. I mean, the mean in our group did look fancy, BECAUSE WE WERE AT A WEDDING, but they weren’t in tuxes. Even the groom was just wearing a suit. It was a really really nice, custom, Caroline Herrera suit, but it was a suit still the same. So we nixed that plan and headed to a different club with less douchy bouncers. Like most clubs in Barcelona, girls get in free, but guys pay a hefty cover (30 Euro!!). Cover comes with a drink though, and at this place that meant a drink the size of a fishbowl. Seriously. the drinks were insane. We stayed at the club till around 4:30 and then walked the 4 blocks back to the hotel.
Not going to lie, we were pretty hung over the day after the wedding. Not like “OMG I’m going to die” hung over, but neither of us were at our best. So we decided to take it easy and have a slow day, even though it was our last day in town. We did a mini architecture tour down Passeig de Grácia, did some shopping, ate a bunch of tapas and churros, and sat down at the port people-watching and watching sailboats. It was a pretty perfect day and was a great way to end a fantastic trip.
After one last breakfast of pastries and chocolate, we flew back to DC. It was a whirlwind trip and I wish we could have stayed longer, but we had a great time and can’t wait to go back.