Thursday, October 16, 2014

Last day exploring Barcelona - Food market and Self guided Chocolate tour

Today was great.  It started out as usual as Carl had to run off to the last day of the conference.  It is the last day, so it is shortened.

He came home at the end and we set off for the Barcelona food market.
In front of the Food Market

 On every aisle there was a fruit juice stand.  We tried two; Strawberry coconut (yum), and mint coconut (yech).

Every other stall sold some kind of pork.  Some, such as this one sold just pork.  We may be bringing home some delicious cuts for the family.

There were some seafood bars that were packed.  We were lucky to find a seat after only a few minutes as people were huddled around waiting for a stool for a long time.  We had mussels and shrimp (or shrimps as they say over here).

I know this seems silly but I don't see beautiful lettuce such as this in UAE.  Especially not this time of year.  Look at the price, I would have salad for every meal, love leaf lettuce.

Avocados cost a small fortune in UAE and usually half of the ones are bad.  There were huge beautiful ones everywhere and again, look at the price, that is 1.5 per kilo.  What I don't get is why guacamole was not offered at the restaurants, guess that is a Mexican thing not Spanish..

We found this Crepe stand.  They had sweet and savory options.  

I was getting a kick out of the cups of sliced ham (pancetta) and cups of sliced cheese offered.  People were buying them and eating them as is.  

I like marzipan a little but I could not eat a whole bite of it.  I thought these creations were really pretty.

We had not tried Paella yet.  When we saw it offered I was not impressed, it looked dry and smelled fishy.  I was surprised when I was walking towards a wonderful smell and it turned out to be Paella, I talked Carl into buying some.

We told the server we didn't need that much because we weren't too sure we would like it.  He filled up the container anyway.  We ate it all, it was sooo delicious!

These potatoes are offered at every restaurant.  They serve them with a garlic aeoli, usually.  

We decided to order a panchetta, grilled onion, spinach, and cheese crepe.

It was amazing!

I should have made him get his own, look at him eating my crepe!

The market was so colorful with all the fruit!

     We left the Market and went back to our favorite haunt, the Gothic district.  We love wandering the streets and looking in the shops.  Today our goal was to create our own chocolate tour by stopping at all the chocolate shops and trying something.  We also wanted to try a few other foods we had enjoyed before since this was our last day.
We stopped at the Empanada restaurant again.  They were good but I was sad they did not have my goat cheese option that I had seen before.

The first stop of many on our chocolate adventure.  This is the only chocolate place that we took a picture of.  I guess we got into the tasting and forgot about documenting.  The truffles from here were simply divine!

Not a food stop but we had to take a picture and look in this hat store.  It made us think of little Carl since he loves fedoras and wears his out almost everywhere he goes.  These fedoras were really beautiful.  Most were wool since they are getting ready for winter here.  That may be a bit hot for Abu Dhabi.  

We also had to stop into a cafe and have some Xocolate and Churros one last time.  They were good although not nearly as good as the 1/4 kilo churros we got on the street.

We also stopped at Manno's Gelato.  It was sad to say goodbye.  I joked with Carl that we should have gotten one of the frequent customer cards at the beginning of the week since we went so often.  The ice cream chef came out from the back to make sure there was some peanut butter gelato for Carl since she knows that is what he likes and she was making more in the back.  I am really going to miss that shop.

After today I need to make a retraction.  We had not found great food other than the afore mentioned ice cream, chocolates, pastries and sandwiches.  After today we can say there is amazing food, we just had not found it yet.  I guess we just had to go to the food market to find some other options.

Back to the hotel and fly out in the morning.  By morning I mean the taxi comes at 4am.  It will be great to see the kids, miss the so much.  Last time we talked to them MJ said she can't wait until we get home so she can see what we got her.  I joked and said what she get is us coming home.  She responded that is the best thing she could get.  I smiled, we might have gotten them a little something, maybe :)

Madrid Temple here I come!!

     Being in Abu Dhabi is amazing and we have so many unique experiences but we don't have a temple.  It is one of those things that I look back on and think, "why didn't I go more often when I was right by one?"

     I woke up sooo early so I could attend while Carl was working and be back when he was finished so we could spend the evening together.

These remind me of the statues at the Seattle temple.  

     I had brought 2 coats with me thinking it would be cold here but it has been warm the whole time so I did not bring one with me to Madrid.  It was really chilly but since I was going straight from the airport to the temple and back it was ok.

 This is when I needed a selfie stick.

     It was the most wonderful thing to be there and I am in awe of the beauty of the spirit felt in the house of God.  I am already planning how I can get to a temple every other month.  Not practical but sure would be awesome!

So green and pretty.

     We spent the evening walking around the village our hotel is in.  We went to the shopping center here which was fun and then had some local food.  It was a really great day!

A happy day for me!


Getting my hair done!! oh yea, and Flamenco Dancing!

     Carl had to go to his conference today so I had the morning to myself.  I caught up on school stuff for the kids and worked on getting day 2's blog done.  Kind of boring but it was nice to have some time to myself with no interruptions (ie, kids).

     I have a really hard time with getting my hair done in Abu Dhabi.  I have tried a ton of places and I am really fed up with getting terrible hair cuts.  I did have one person that I liked but she is not there anymore:(.  So, I made an appointment and ventured out.

     I am terrified of getting lost!  When I say that I mean that when I go out of the house without written instructions (turn left here, right here) my heart starts to beat quickly and my mind goes into panic mode.  I am truly terrified.  So for me to head out on the subway with a change of lines to get to downtown and then find my way by myself is a very big deal.  I almost canceled my plan of getting my hair done because I was afraid.  I know it seems really silly but this is me.

     I did it though and I found it!  I even went to lunch by myself.

     I was really nervous about communicating but it was no problem and I am thrilled to have shorter hair.  I think I lost 5 inches which will be great for the hot weather we have at home.
There was a school group from the us sitting behind us.  They kept photo-bombing us.  We let them know we knew what they were doing but we were ok with it.  

     Carl met me after his meetings and we just walked around for a while.  We went to the area where the cruise ships let off and man, it was crazy.  I really hate all the kitschy stuff they try to pawn off on tourists.  This part of town was not my favorite.  There were some street performers but they were not great.  I think because I have seen the remarkable ones in New York and Washington DC I have a high expectation.

That night we went to a Flamenco show.  I was not sure what it was going to be like.  The seating was strange and uncomfortable.  It was a great show!  It went a little long but man can those women stomp and click their feet.

It reminded me a lot of clogging.  One of the dancers was pregnant, it was impressive for her to be able to dance like that while being with child!

After the show got out we wandered about the little alleys.  They emptied quickly as we were looking for somewhere to eat and it was a little creepy.  Lots of dark alleys as the shops were all closed.  We found a sandwich shop and YUM.  I have decided that the delicious things here are Spanish Sandwiches, Chocolate, and pastries.  Although delicious, after a week I would like a real meal that is tasty.

We found Mannas Gelato again.  It really is the best!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going to church and a stolen phone

We enjoyed a lazy morning, getting some much needed sleep and then headed out the door to have some adventures in Barcelona.

First, we went to see the Sagrada Familia.  As we walked up to the line and followed it around the corner, then around another corner, and then even another corner we became a little sad.  It is said to be the most visited place in the world and I can believe it.  Even those who were not going in were lining the streets outside to take pictures.

We were standing in line when a worker was going down the line giving information.  Turns  out the line is to buy tickets that will give you entrance into the church at 4:30 pm.  That would be in 5 hours.  Yikes, and who knows how long the line would take.  She then let us know that we could purchase tickets online and skip the line.  We made the purchase for a 2:30 entrance and happily walked away from the line.

We then went to find Carl's conference for him to sign in.  Turns out after a long metro ride and a lot of walking that there are many areas with the same name and we were 30 minutes walk from where we needed to be.  We decided to scrap that and head back towards the church and grab lunch close so we would not miss our time to get into the church.  As we have found that the local food places take a really long time to serve food we opted to do a quick lunch at Burger King.

I loved this Fountain in the Middle of the round about.  It looked so fun to climb.  Of course that is not allowed.  I wonder where Madison gets her desire to climb everything?

I can't tell you how amazing the inside of this church is.  The architect,Gaudi, showed his love of the gospel through every detail.  I was in awe of the beauty and the spirit that was in this Cathedral.  I have never had that feeling in any other Cathedral or Basilica that I have been in.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves although I don't think they truly capture it.

The side we entered into the Familia had the Nativity scenes.  It covered the entire side of the Church. 

 This Church has been being built for over 100 years.  The Architect, Antoni Guadi, died soon after part of this was completed.  They are trying to continue to build the church to his plans.  Many of his plans were destroyed in the revolution they had here in the 30's.  His faith is shown through everything seen here.

The Nativity

 Mary and Joseph

 Carl in front with a small part of the church.   

 Gaudi included nature in all off the design.  The columns are trees that at the ceiling become leaves making it feel as if you are in a bright forest.  I have never seen anything like it.  The way he did the slits at the ceiling lets in natural light that brightens everything.

Gaudi said that he wanted light to fill the church and it has come to fruition.  The stain glass windows are glowing with beauty.  There are different colors flowing through, making me feel as if I am flowing in color and light.

 The columns are different as trees are different and are even made of different stone.

 We came out to view the the exterior of the other side of the church which shows the passion of Christ.

Judas kissing Christ in betrayal.  Notice the serpent coming out from his robe.

I love the color that is here and there showing the color of nature.  Above the Windows you can see bronze leaves that are green and red.

This was in the Gaudi Museum.  It was really interesting how e came up with ways to create his art.  In order to decide on arches for another church he loaded pebbles in little bags that represented the weight the arches would support.  he then made an upside down structure that represented what the angles of the arches would be based on the pulling of the bags.  Here is a representation of this.  I was fascinated with his genius.

This is to represent the tree of life.  The doves are the followers.  I just stared and stared.  I hope I will be a dove partaking of the tree of life, I am trying.

The are still working on the church.  It looks as if there is much left to do.  We plan to come back when it is completed.

After a lot of walking we decided we wanted to sit for a bit and plan so we grabbed some ice cream at McDonalds so we could get a table.  It was there while looking over the map together that two women walked up to us and put a paper with writing on our table.  I told them I did not understand as I don't speak Spanish.  they left quickly and it was 5 minutes later when we were gathering up our things that I realized they had taken my phone.  I do give them credit for their slyness.  I was distracted by the map and they quickly covered and then grabbed my phone.
This put a damper on the evening.  We had a great time walking through the streets in the Gothic area and then went to a nice dinner.  I have decided that thus far I am not impressed with Spanish food.  It lacks flavor and passion.  The food is good but not something I would want to go home and create for anyone else.

Dinner was nice.  We went to a place recommended by trip adviser.  We wanted to be adventurous and tried the specials.  Carl's was so small that it could have been an appetizer.  It was good, not great.  I loved the big spoon, fork and knife on the walls.  I asked Carl if there was anything he thought he would eat with that spoon and she said the Xocolate they serve at every cafe here.  He is right, that stuff is Delicious.

The pastries, chocolate, and gelato are AMAZING!!!