We spent a bit of our Easter Sunday determining how we’d spend our time in Barcelona if we were to return for a stay in a self-catered apartment. . . pretending we lived there, like we did for a week in Madrid last year.
We’d have a daily ritual of setting out to see ‘our’ neighborhood come to life – that early morning time when the only thing disturbing the quiet is the crash and clang of shopkeepers raising their heavy metal gates.
We’d admire flower-decked balconies above us and greet passersby with a nod of the head and “Bon Dia” as if we were locals. We’d pick a different café each day to sip cafés con leche (hot milk laced espresso) while planning that day’s adventures.
Among the things we would do in this Catalonian city by the sea are:
1. We’d eat and drink! Finally we’d have time to try those tempting cheeses (like Cabrales and Manchego), and hams (Jamon Iberico and Serrano) for which Spain is famous. We’ve had to pass up those seductive selections on display at municipal markets on previous short cruise ship stops.
So we’d be regulars at the famous Mercat de Boqueria, Rambla 85 –86; a market whose origins date back to1217 when meat was sold from tables set up near a door of the once-walled city. The present-day market built in 1840, still has a metal roof that was added in 1911. Other days we would head to Mercat Santa Caterina, Francesc Cambo, 16, in the Ribera District in Cuitat Velta.
2. Late in the evening we’d stroll through the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) letting our imaginations run wild. . .do ghosts lurk in the shadows of the narrow streets that twist and turn through this centuries-old area? The buildings -- most of which date back to the 15th Century -- are interesting in the daytime but become simply magical at night.
3. We’d tapeo through the city, stuffing ourselves at Tapas Bars. Returning to our favorite places and finding new ones – we’d seek out the best deal, the best atmosphere -- the kinds of places we’d tell you that ‘you must visit’ when in town.
Some of our favorites are tiny places so small you could almost miss them.
Often times the only place to sit at these bars is outside, at tables wedged into a small corner of the sidewalk. That’s my empty stool there, inches from the street’s curb.
4. We’d visit museums like the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona and Museu Picasso. We’d finally visit Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia or Casa Batilo’ and ponder his wild, wonderful architecture. . .…all of those places we’ve never quite had enough time to get to. And on the way home we’d buy flowers from the many flower stands that line La Rambla to fill ‘our’ apartment with the color and scent of Barcelona’s fall.
5. Sometimes we’d take advantage of the fact we were but short-term visitors here. We’d catch those double-decker buses that whirl tourists around a city pointing out important sites ~ a moveable feast of history and culture served in easily digested bite-sized bits.
So what travel bee got into my Easter bonnet?
It was seeing an announcement of a blogger’s competition on “Go with Oh” a company that got its start in Barcelona and has grown to include 9 other European cities. They rent hotels and apartments. I spent time on their site picking out apartments to show Joel where we ‘could live’ whether we won the contest or not. Yes, the prize is a stay in one, maybe more, of their apartments for up to 30 days. Our travel juices started flowing and our imaginations ran wild.
Information about this contest as well as another one they have going on Facebook (with other great prizes) can be found at: www.GowithOh.com