06/11/13
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Off to Fez

On June 11, 2013, we all woke up at 8:30 am.  There was breakfast by Denise which was fruit, cheese and boiled eggs.

Ivan and I packed everything up.

We walked to the post office to mail off a lot of postcards.

Everybody piled into a taxi at 11:30 am.  There was some traffic, but it moved along quickly.

The taxi dropped us off at our terminal at noon.  Denise and Ken were off to their terminal to head back to England.

Ivan went to ask the Last Minute line if we could go in that line.  Ivan told me I needed to go to the Visa Check line.

I waited in the Visa Check line and it went by slowly since there was only one person working at the desk.

I joined Ivan in the Last Minute queue and checked our bags in.

Security was really lax since they didn’t see Ivan’s toiletries which contained liquid.

We rushed to get a tuna & Spanish omelet sandwich and went to our gate.

Our plane left Barcelona and started going towards Fez, Morocco.  I worked on the blog on the plane ride while Ivan read Lee Mack’s book Mack the Life and slept.

The plane above Morocco

The plane got really bumpy at the end.  I think the pilot had too many sangrias.

People clapped when the plane landed probably since they were scared from the bumpiness at the end of the two hour flight.

We got picked up at the airport from the transfer Ivan set up through the hotel.  I had no idea what our taxi driver was saying since he was speaking French.  Ivan took French in school, but he doesn’t remember that much. I barely know any French.

We were met by Bernard outside of the Medina.  Porters took our big luggage and went off.  Bernard led us through the streets of the Medina to Dar Melody.  We saw four newborn kitties before reaching the hotel. They were so cute. We didn’t see any sign of the mother.

He told us that his wife would explain everything to us.  Laurence showed us things on the map.  I paid attention, but knew I’d probably forget most of the things she told us.  I could tell that I would get lost in the medina and there’s no GPS maps of it.  Thank goodness, Ivan is good with maps.  I have no sense of direction.

The dining room of Dar Melody from above

Dar Melody is beautiful inside.  We were taken to our room which was also quite pretty.  The shower was gorgeous.

Lovely tiled shower

What a lovely place!  We got Moroccan cookies to eat in our room.

Lil Dave went to meet up with a family member’s cousin (no relation to Lil Dave) named Abu for a monkey dinner.  Ivan already had plans for our dinner.  We tried to find the restaurant, but nobody seemed to know where it was.  Lawrence advised us against paying people to lead you to a destination.  Ivan did pay somebody since we were really clueless as to where it actually was… it was only €3.

We walked inside the Restaurant Andalib, but it wasn’t open until 7:30 pm.  We walked across the street and had sweet Moroccan mint tea.

At 7:35 pm, we walked back to Restaurant Andalib.  A lady asked if we wanted to sit on the terrace and we said yes.  We didn’t know there was a terrace.

The view was beautiful on the terrace.

Moroccan sunset

The meal comes with free starters and bread.  Ivan and I shared the harrissa soup which comes with dates and almond pastries.  You eat the dates and almond pastries while eating the great soup.

On the terrace of Restaurant Andalib

Our main dishes were vegetarian cous cous and a chicken tangine.  The food was quite tasty with a refreshing French white wine.

We were really stuffed and walked back to the hotel and used the free internet.

06/10/13
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Passionate Shopping

Ivan, Lil Dave, Denise, Ken and I had breakfast in the apartment on June 10, 2013.  Denise made us breakfast with rice cakes and boiled eggs.  I filled out postcards during breakfast.

It was time to go shopping.  Denise bought too much stuff on holiday, so she wanted to buy a new rolling suitcase.

Ivan went in search of a cool jacket he saw at Zara in Ibiza.  He found one that he liked better, but they didn’t have his size.

Pasta Bar was our stop for lunch.  We love this place since you can customize your own pasta dish.  I had a tasty spinach tagliatelle with pesto, spinach and rucula.  Lil Dave really enjoyed his banana gnocchi.

We walked to the Travelbar.  We were going on a free walking tour.  Our guide was an interesting fellow named Iseph.  He was very passionate about the history of Barcelona.  Ivan and I wish our history teachers were as interesting as him – we probably would have learnt a lot more.

Our group listening to Iseph

He took us around El Call which is the Jewish Ghetto and The Gothic Quarter.

We went to the oldest synagogue in Europe.

Oldest European synagogue

It was so interesting to hear about Barcelona’s history, the Jews in Barcelona and Barcino which was the name of the early Roman town of Barcelona.

He told us a story about Eulalia who was tortured to made an example of because she wouldn’t recant her Christianity.

Tribute to St. Eulalia

She was placed in a barrel filled with glass shards and rolled down a hill.  The barrel was opened and you would have expected her to be mince meat, but miraculously she was still alive.  She was later named a saint.

Iseph believes that you should experience Barcelona by looking up.

Looking up in Barcelona

It’s true since there’s so many interesting things to see up above like statues and church facades.

We saw the City Architecture School which features an early Picasso artwork.

Early Picasso

We saw Neri H&R which is a restaurant in a square which was used in the Cristina Barcelona film by Woody Allen.

The group stopped at the beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana.

I missed the beginning of the story about the crapping statues called caganers.  It has become a Christmas tradition.

Pooping statues

You can find many statues taking a poop like the Queen, Barack Obama, Betty Boop, Elvis, futball stars and even Spongebob Squarepants.

I highly recommend this free walking tour especially if you get Iseph.

We left the tour a few minutes early since we were all so tired from walking around.  Ivan gave him a tip from us and we were off to do more shopping.

Ivan found a cool suit jacket at Zara.  He didn’t find the other one he wanted, but maybe he can find it in Manchester later in our trip.

Denise and Ken found a big blue suitcase at a souvenir shop.

Ivan and I dropped off Denise and Ken at the Sant Josep de la Boqueria market.  I went to find a store I liked while Ivan went to an internet café to print out our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow.

Ivan put in the GPS a store that I liked, but not the one I REALLY wanted to go to.  I was a bit peeved and put in Urbarna’s address.  I was thinking I shouldn’t bother going the half mile, but didn’t listen to my thoughts and trekked all the way there.

Unfortunately, Urbarna was closed which sucked – I should have remembered that it was Monday and a lot of places are closed in Barcelona on Mondays.  I was hot and trying to rush back since I had been gone awhile.

I found Ivan near the market and he was worried about me.  He kept running back and forth from the shop to the market trying to find me.

We relaxed for awhile back at the apartment.

Got a taxi to La Placa Reial.  We were going to see flamenco at Los Tarantos.

The flamenco show is 30 minutes for €8 per person.

A woman dancing flamenco

I love watching the women twirl around.  The main star was a guy who was a great dancer.

Flamenco at Los Tarantos

Flaamenco is exciting to watch because the singers and the dancers are always so passionate.  Ivan and I wish we knew Spanish because we have no clue what they’re singing about.  This was a great show which was very cheap compared to many of the other flamenco shows which can be about €50 each.

Dinner was at Mercat Princesa.  It’s the cool place with lots of cooking stations that we went to with Alba.

Mercat Princesa Mekong Station

Denise and Ken got a few dishes: mushrooms with scrambled eggs, tomato soup and fried rice.  Ivan and I enjoyed mussels, patatas bravas, shrimp, tapas and a goat cheese salad.

Ivan's ready to eat!

Denise and Ivan went to look at the desserts at the front of the restaurant.  They brought back tiramisu and brownies.  Ivan and I had some of the tiramisu.  Denise liked her brownie.  We saved one of the brownies for later.

We went back to the apartment.  Denise, Ken, Lil Dave and I watched a funny, cheesy movie about a chimp who learns how to skateboard called Most Vertical Primate.

06/9/13
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A Day of Gaudí

On June 9, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of the apartment.

We got a taxi to the new Airbnb apartment and checked in.  It’s close to La Sagrada Família.

Ivan parents Denise and Ken came to the apartment from the Norwegian Epic cruise ship soon after.

That afternoon, we all went to La Sagrada Familia which was created by Antoni Gaudí.  It was great to skip the very long line, which is usually an hour wait or more, since Ivan booked it online.

View from the nave of the altar

It was very cool inside with gothic and art nouveau mixed inside with lovely glass stained windows.  The ceiling was interesting as well.

Ceiling of the nave

I took lots of pictures.

Very unique architecture

Ceiling and glass stained windows

I highly recommend going inside the church if you love unique architecture.

We went to lunch at a Catalan restaurant – not sure of the name.  We got a big plate of bread.  You got garlic to rub on the bread and then you put tomato on and a bit of olive oil.  Ivan and I got a soup and a sepia but it was burnt.  The food was okay here.

Our next stop was Parc Güell.  It’s a beautiful park done by Gaudi.

Parc Güell

Ivan and I only made a short stop here the last time we visited, so it was great to walk around and explore the park more.

Ken, Ivan and Denise at Parc Guell

It’s a great place to relax in especially on the cool serpentine bench that has many variety of colorful tiles on them.

Owl like bridge

Lil Dave loved climbing the trees.  I would definitely walk around the park if you come visit, there’s lot of great art to discover.

Sun tile

It’s definitely one of my favorite parks in the world.

For dinner, we went to Tapas Royale.  Ivan picked out a variety of tapas for everybody.  We also ordered cuttlefish, vegetarian paella and Galician-style octopus.  It was delicious food as usual.

06/8/13
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David Royale

On June 8, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 8:30 am.  Ivan and I had tea on the balcony and a slice of bread on the balcony.

Having breakfast on the balcony

Ivan reminded me that we would be eating a lot on a food tour soon.  Lil Dave went to explore the city more.

We met our guide Karen for the Taste Florence tour at La Norcineria.  Karen had a paper for us with different places we might go on the tour that included a map and space for notes.  I was happy since I always take notes during tours for the blog.

La Norcineria

She talked about the DOC/DOCG regulations for the food products.  This grocery store sells things like meat, wine and biscuits.  You can also buy boar meat here which is an organic meat that is lean.  Ivan and I both got to taste the Provolone Dolce (sweet) and a Picante.  The Picante cheese was better since it was sharper.  I also got a chance to try two Prosciuttos: di Parma and Tuscan.  Di Palma was sweet while Tuscan was salty.

Forno Bruschi Ivana was our next stop.  Ivan and I had a Schiaccata with artichoke and parmesan and a coccoli with mozzarella and tomato.  The Coccoli was delicious.  The breads are made on-site and they even deliver.

Our next stop was at the San Lorenzo Market.  Some stalls have remained traditional while some have become touristy.  The Market is open 7:30 am to 2 pm every day except Sunday.

We stopped at a stall called Nerbone – they’re known for their bollito di manzo (boiled beef brisket).  Ivan and I tasted the salsa verde (parsley, garlic, olive oil, anchovies, and capers) on bread which tasted great.

Eating a bollito di manzo

I got a bollito di manzo which was pretty good.

We got a short break to walk around the market.

San Lorenzo Market

Ivan and I each had an espresso and used the loo… then, we checked out the market.

Karen was very interesting and told us about the market.  They’ve been building a fruit market upstairs for 3 years but it’s still not done.

Ultima Spiaggia (The Last Beach) was our next stop in the market.  It’s a fish and chips shop.  We were served free white wine while waiting in line.

The guys at Ultima Spiaggia

Two of the guys who work there are easy on the eyes – it was term Karen had never heard of, but she understood what it meant even without explaining it.

Seafood mix at Ultima Spiaggia

The fried seafood mix we got here was so very tasty.

Karen led us to Enoteca Alessi.  It was time to have some wine, cheese and balsamic vinegar.  We walked down to the cellar which was filled with hundreds of bottles of wine.  It was really pretty down there.  We got bruschetta and a selection of cheeses to have with the wines.

Ivan with prosecco and bruschetta

Our first wine was a Prosecco.  It’s made with a minimum of 80’% of San Genovese grapes.  The wine was delicious.  The second wine was a Chianti Classico followed by a Carmignano.  The Carmignano was full bodied and tasted lovely.

Karen talking about wines

It was time for our balsamic vinegar tasting which we tried seven different kinds.  It kept making me cough since it’s so strong.  The saba and wine vinegar blend was really good and it’s good to put on ice cream, parmesan cheese and pasta.  Another vinegar was aged 12 years and is used as a medicine for sore throats.  The last vinegar was one of my favorites since it was very sweet since there’s a vanilla pod inside the bottle.

Ivan and I followed Karen to Vestri.  We got to try chocolates and gelato here.  Karen had a tray with 8 different chocolates.

8 different kinds of chocolates

Ivan’s favorite was dark chocolate and coffee and my favorite was a cinnamon chocolate.

Next, we were served up two gelatos: crema custard and raspberry sorbet.  The crema custard was very plain and boring.  The sorbet was simply delicious.

Our last stop was at I Dolci di Patrizio Cosi where we had a macchato which is an espresso with a stain (a small amount) of milk.

The Taste Florence food tour was wonderful.  I would highly recommend going on this tour.  You eats lots of great Italian food and learn a lot as well.

We walked around and I wanted to buy new shoes.  I think wearing my Northface sandals aren’t very good for my feet.  Bought a pair of pink Nike shoes at AW Lab.  Lil Dave joined us since we were going to see a famous statue soon.

We went on The Original David Tour.  Our tour guide told us about Michelangelo’s history.  He was only 20 years old when he created the beautiful Pieta statue.  Michelangelo was an arrogant guy which resulted in a fight that broke his nose and it never really healed right.

The David was supposed to go on the outside of the Duomo on the buttress, but was placed in Palazzo della Signoria.  It was moved to the Accademia Gallery in 1873.

We went to the Accademia Museum to see the David statue.  It’s supposed to be a 15 year old boy, but really it’s the perfect man.

The beautiful David statue

David is about to fight Goliath.  From the front view, he looks ready, determined and confident.  His head, hands and feet are really big compared to the rest of his body.  But, David was going to be on top of the Duomo – so Michelangelo did this on purpose.

On the side view from the right, you notice his thick eyebrows and he looks scared and there’s a  moment of doubt.  I found that he looked rather sad.

The David statue is 14 feet tall.  The group’s next view of the statue was from the back.  The rock in his hand makes it steady.  Michelangelo put a small piece of wood behind the leg that makes the statue steady.  An x-ray found out that where that wood is placed is the weakest point of the statue.  Michelangelo must have been a genius to know that without having advanced technology available to him.

Lil Dave wanted to climb the statue, but that was a big taboo since the museum doesn’t even allow pictures of the David statue.

The last view was from the left side of the front view of the statue.  Our guide pointed out the veins in his arm, forearm and on his neck.  It showed how nervous he was about his upcoming fight with Goliath.

I was really moved by finally seeing the David statue… I actually got tears in my eyes.  I’m a big fan of Michelangelo’s work.  It’s a beautiful statue and our guide thinks that you see something different every time you view it.  I hope I get more chances to see it.

Our guide said that Michelangelo’s friend said “You don’t have to see any other artists if you’ve seen Michelangelo’s work.  This tour is a definite must since you skip the line for the museum and it’s great to hear more about Michelangelo.

Ivan found us a taxi and we got it back to the bed & breakfast.  We grabbed our luggage and headed to the airport.

We flew from Florence to Barcelona, Spain.  We checked in to the Airbnb apartment we stayed at the first time which is right on La Rambla.

Later that night, we had dinner at Tapas Royale with lots of tapas and a glass of red wine.

We went to the back to the bar for dancing.  Unfortunately, the music was too lounge-y to really get into.  We danced for a little bit before heading back.

Source: David picture

06/2/13
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Epic Moon

Ivan, Lil Dave, Denise, Ken, Neal and D and I left the apartment at 11:45 am on June 2, 2013.  Today, we were boarding the Norwegian Epic for a Mediterranean cruise ship.  It was a fast check-in for cruise ship since the check-in opened at noon.  We got an upgrade to a bigger room probably since the boat wasn’t very full.

We went to our rooms on the 10th floor and it was a huge balcony room.  The balcony was so big and there was plenty of space in the room.

Big balcony handicapped room

Ivan noticed that it was a handicapped room, so it makes sense that it was so spaced out especially in the bathroom.

All of our rooms were on the same floor.  Everybody went to the lunch buffet.

Norwegian Epic buffet

The buffet room is nicely decorated.  Too bad the selection of food wasn’t that good.  The desserts were behind a plastic cover, so you felt like you were in your school cafeteria.  Not very classy.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went back to the room.  Lil Dave went to explore the ship to see if he could find some monkey friends.  Ivan and I changed into our swimsuits and headed for the waterslides.

Waterslides on the Norwegian Epic

There are three waterslides on the boat.  Two of them are completely in the dark.  One of them goes off the boat a bit and should be see through so you can see the ocean while you’re riding it.  The last one is a bowl ride where you ride an inner tube.  The slides are fun.  We rode them a few times and then chilled in the jacuzzi.

Ivan and I changed in the room and then walked around the ship to get an Ivan self-guided tour.

Later, we went to the safety drill which is mandatory.  It was so stupid since they showed you how to put on the life vest… and it’s obvious that you understand how they put it on even if you don’t speak English.  But, after they had to translate it into 5 other languages. Boring! On other cruise lines like Carnival.. they only do it in English.

Neal and D joined us later since they have an interior room with no window.  Ivan and I would never get an interior room again.  We had one once and it was really small and you never know what time it is since it’s always so dark in there.

It was almost time to sail away.  Neal brought some rum, iced tea and lemonade to the room.  For some reason, you can only get orange juice during breakfast.  Lame.  Neal mixed rum and iced tea and DID NOT like it at all.  Ivan and I made our drinks with lemonade and rum.  I told Lil Dave that I made him one with a little rum (shh, I didn’t though!) and some of his banana juice.

Neal & Ivan chillin' on the balcony

We relaxed on the balcony with our drinks while the boat sailed away from Barcelona.

Neal and D left to get ready.

Ivan and I showered and met everybody in the Atrium.  On most cruise ships, there’s an Atrium with a beautiful chandelier right in front of the row of elevators.  It’s quite impressive.  The two Norwegian ships we have been on don’t have this.  The Atrium has a big screen tv and a bunch of seats.  It’s not very nice at all.

The Welcome Aboard show was currently on with the cruise director Jill who is, according to Ivan, really plastic and boring.  He says she’s like a school mistress.    We watched the show for a few minutes seeing a preview of the Spanish ballet.

Ivan, Neal, D and I headed to Tradewinds where the shops are.  The Liquor Tasting was supposed to be at 7 pm, but it was late for some reason.  We chatted with one of the guys who had a $10 table for the shopping special tomorrow.  Neal really liked the hats!

Neal with a stack of hats

The Liquor Tasting was finally open at 7:20 pm.  We all tried a few samples of the liquor that the store is selling on board.

Ivan & D getting liquor samples

If you buy something at duty free, you can’t have it until the end of the trip.  How dumb!  The cruise ship just wants you to buy all their liquor on board.

We had dinner at The Manhattan Room.  Ivan and I tried the seafood paella which was the regional specialty for the night.  It was nice to be with Ivan’s family and chat about our plans for the rest of the cruise.

Our group walked to Headliners for the dueling piano shows called Howl at the Moon.  Two guys were playing the piano.  One guy was average while the other guy was really good.

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Lots of people were requesting songs.  If you tipped them, your song was given priority.  I didn’t bring any money with me, so my song wasn’t played while we were there.  A black lady took over for the average guy. She was really good and funny.  Lots of fun songs were played like Midnight Toker, Benny and the Jets and Don’t Stop Believing.  It was great singing along with the crowd.  I hope to check them out another night.

We walked out to check out the Beatles tribute band.  They were very good.

The Beatles tribute band

They didn’t really look like The Beatles, but it didn’t really matter.  It was a shame that the Atrium doesn’t have that many seats.  All the seats were taken there and upstairs at the Pub which overlooks the Atrium.  We listened for awhile.  I was singing along to their music and dancing a little.

Ivan was talking to Guest Services when Neal and D left.

Ivan and I listened to The Beatles band with Denise and Ken for a short time.  We said bye to them since we wanted to catch up with Neal and D at the nightclub.

We went to check out Bliss.  Some people were dancing away, but not that many.  Ivan said we should check out Spice at H2O which is the outdoor club.  I forgot that Neal said they were going to see what was going on at Spice, not Bliss.  We went up there and it was empty except for one couple.

Ivan and I checked out the Mountain Slide which was unfortunately closed up.  It looks like it would be lots of fun to climb up and then slide down it.

Fun Mountain Slide

We went back to the ugly Atrium and listened to The Beatles more with Ivan’s parents before we went back to the room.

It was really rocky that night on the boat.  The beds were very comfortable and it was easy to drift off to sleep and into dreamland.

06/1/13
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Recycled Princesa

On June 1, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of the Airbnb La Rambla apartment at 12:20 pm.

Ivan and I got a Magnum No. 2 Loving Kiss – Meringe et Fruits Rouges popsicle.  This gourmet popsicle is tasty, but not as good as the Crème Brulee.

We walked with our luggage to Mercat Princesa.  We were meeting our friend Michael’s sister-in-law’s sister today.  It was her birthday the other day, so he wanted to give her some birthday cards and a present.

This cool new restaurant has 10 different cooking stations like Mekong for Asian food, one with eggs, another with salad or one with ostras (oysters).

Ostras station

Ivan thought it was like how the Rio buffet was when it was good back in the day.

Ivan grabbed two tasty sangrias for us while we waited for Alba to arrive.  Alba arrived around 1:10 pm.  She said hi to me and kissed me on both cheeks.  Europeans will kiss you on both cheeks when greeting you.  Sometimes you’re not sure if they’re going to do it.. so Ivan tells me just to follow their lead.  I think the English are lazy because they only kiss one cheek.  You go to your left first and kiss their right cheek and then the other side.

Alba is really pretty.  Recently, Michael’s brother married Alba’s sister Ana in a big lavish wedding in Barcelona.  It was nice to chat with Alba since she’s very sweet and friendly.  She said Sorry for my English, I don’t speak it very often.  Her English was just fine.  She didn’t know some words, but it makes sense since she doesn’t practice it often.

Ivan gave Alba two cards from Michael with something in them.  We were hoping she would open them, so we could see what Michael gave her… but she didn’t.

We got a table in the main dining area in the back of the restaurant.  Alba got two slices of pizza while Ivan went around a few of the stations to grab food.

Ivan got a good mix of food: mussels, fish fritters, sardine pizza, tapas and scrambled eggs with mushrooms.  The food was very tasty.

Alba, me & Ivan at lunch

It was a great lunch with good company.  Alba was so sweet to offer to drive us to our new apartment.

Alba drove us there and we said good-bye and thanks.

Ivan booked an apartment on Airbnb.  He rang the bell for the apartment, but it sounded like a busy sign.  He tried other apartments, but they wouldn’t let us in.  We didn’t understand their Spanish.

Ivan called the guy who owns the apartment and there was no answer.  He was getting worried since his parents, his brother Neal and his girlfriend would be arriving later.  It wouldn’t be good if it didn’t pan out and we had to book a hotel.

Ivan kept calling him and finally got a hold of him.  It turned out that he was sick.  Ivan had to call his friend to see if he could come.  He said he would be at the apartment in 45 minutes.

In the meantime, I waited and finally got inside the main area by the mailboes and sat on the floor.  Ivan was walking around to find a hotel just in case the friend didn’t show up.

Thankfully, the friend did show up 45 minutes later and let us in to the apartment.  He said his friend was in the hospital.

He started cleaning the room while Ivan and I used the internet.  There was a balcony with a lovely view of the marina.

Boats in the marina

Ivan got a call from Neal saying that they would be there in 5 minutes.  It turned to be a little longer than that since the taxi driver was trying to get more money out of them.

Denise, Ken, Neal and D came up to the room.  They all flew in from London.  It was good to be with Ivan’s family.  Tomorrow, we’ll be going on a Mediterranean cruise together.

We chilled in the apartment and chatted.

Neal and D were going to a nice meal later on.

Ivan, Denise and Ken and I walked along the water.

Pretty Port Vell

Denise didn’t want to walk anymore, so we got a taxi to the restaurant Sésamo.  Ivan found this great vegetarian online.

Ivan ordered a bunch of things: filled gnocchis, mushroom croquettes, slow roast aubergine with red peppers and onions with caramelized goat cheese and rosemary oil, bread with tomato and figs with Brie.  The food was so very tasty.

We all decided to share a brownie with almond ice cream which tasted delicious.

Brownie with almond ice cream

I could have definitely eaten it all by myself, it’s that good.  Ivan and I didn’t eat that much since we wanted to go to Tapas Royale later and go dancing with Neal and D.

We walked around Barcelona and came across a cool recycled market in Plaça Reial.  This market happens every Saturday.  All the products are recycled.

I saw a table at the Illariy Art stall filled with cool little tape purses where you can put your credit cards as well.

Cute tape purses

I bought one.  The lady asked if I wanted it wrapped.  I said No, it’s for me.  She said that she does this cool wrapping thing with the inside of the tape.  I thought it sounded cool, so I said Please do that.  It turned out great.

Cool Tape gift wrapping

The lady was really nice and told me how she made the fork rings too.  She said Have a great life to me.  I said you too.  I think this may be a common Barcelona thing since I heard a guy say that to somebody at a bar.  I thought it was different, but definitely nice.

Denise told me there was a stall selling orange peel jewelry.  The woman who makes them explained that she shapes the orange peel into shapes like flowers.  She adds resins and bakes it and then bakes it again.

Ornage peel flower earrings

I bought a pair of flower orange peel earrings.  Denise wasn’t sure if she should buy a cool flower orange peel necklace.  But, I told her it looked really nice.  She tried it on and the woman adjusted it to suit her.  I wish we could have spent longer at this market.

We stopped by a grocery store so Denise could pick up breakfast for her and Ken tomorrow.  She found some whole wheat rice cakes.

We all walked back to the apartment.  Denise and Ken were staying in.  We left a few minutes later.  Since Neal didn’t answer Ivan’s texts, we decided to eat around the apartment and not walk all the way to Tapas Royale.

Ivan found a nice place down the road called L’Arros.  We wanted a late night snack.  Ivan and I shared mussels marinara, bread with tomato, Galician-style octopus and a small seafood paella that’s meant for one person.

Seafood paella

The food tasted lovely especially with the bubbly cava.

It was back to the apartment after to use the internet before bed.

05/31/13
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Street Dancing

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had lunch at Pasta Bar on May 31, 2013 since Tapas Royale was closed.  I had a spinach tagliatelle with shrimp, spinach and rucula.  Ivan had a tagliatelle with mushrooms.  He was miffed since he asked for spinach tagliatelle and he got regular tagliatelle.  The chef said it’s the same, but it clearly tastes different.  He offered to make it again, but Ivan was really hungry so he just ate it.

Lil Dave went to go meet up with Senor Dave.  They were going to take a monkey tapas tour around Barcelona.  Sounds fun!

Ivan and I went to the Arc de Triomphe for the meeting point for a tour.

It was time to do the free Barcelona Street Style Tour.  Our guide was Mike a guy from California.  I love tours where the guide speaks English because they’re usually funny and more interesting.

The tour was two hours long.  It was great going around the El Borne area and the Gothic Quarter seeing all the cool graffiti.  We saw some great stencil artists that add color like C215 and Alice.

Lovely girl by C215

I liked the cool tiles by SRAM21.  Mike knew all about the artists.  He was very passionate about it.  He thinks that graffiti is ego driven to prove that they exist.   Some artists are anonymous like the guy who puts up Gameboys.

The street art is visually stimulating.  Mike said that one artist loves to get any reaction (good or bad) from the public.. as long as they’re reacting to it.

A popular thing for artists to do is the persianas which is the black steel cover that goes over your store’s doors.

Colorful Persiana

A store owner will pay a street artist to make something on their persiana.  It doesn’t have to go along with the theme of the store, just something that’s cool.

We stopped by Montana Gallery and Bode was currently exhibiting there.

Cram's work with the pierced rat

It was amazing to see so much graffiti from many street artists like Duo, Demetrius Taxidermist, Nieta, Miss Van (the first lady of street art), Dolk, Pez, Penelope, Olae, Vegan Bunnies, Okrabelo, Dr. Case, Cram and La Peluga.

I do like Penelope’s work since she loves hearts.  She had a broken heart so she made broken hearts.  It seems that’s she’s fine now since she’s making full hearts like hearts made of of CDs.

Penelope's CD heart

Her work is simple, but cute.

We saw street art that said La Calle es de Todos which means The Streets are for Everyone.  Mike said that if we took anything from this tour it should be the message The Streets are for Everyone.  I do agree.  I think graffiti and street art can be quite lovely and cool – it’s not ugly. Mike thinks that street art is more impactful than art in a gallery.  People can take a photo of a street art piece and put it on the internet.

Dolk's Funny R2 art

Many people see the photo online and it can influence others to create their own stuff.

We stopped at Base Elements.  it’s a cool urban art gallery filled with cool art and street art.  We got a preview of El Arte es Basura exhibition which was opening tonight.  It was really cool to see his work.

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He takes trash on the street and makes it into street art.  Awhile back, the law said that trash was public property if it was on the curb. But, recently a law was passed that makes trash government property once it’s on the curb since they will be picking it up.  So, he has been fined because of this law.

Big wall filled with street art

I highly recommend this tour.  It’s fun to see all the great street art and hear more about how it’s done and about the street artists.

I think graffiti tours are my favorite types of tours because it’s so cool to see all the cool street art – I would have never found it all otherwise.  I love how creative they are.

Next, we walked to Travel Bar.  Ivan wanted to do a cooking class.  We have previously done the cooking class before a few years ago.  It was fun and it came with lots of food and drinks.

We found out there was still space so we signed up.

The group was really big filled with 20 people.  Our teacher Leeard took us to the market.  He bought ingredients for the seafood paella.  We saw weird things like lamb’s head and cow’s stomach.  It doesn’t look very appetizing.

We got to make our own bread and tomato.  The sangria is alright – I think I make a better sangria.  We also got some patatas bravas, Spanish omelet, jamon, and padron peppers to eat.  It was unlimited sangria.

The teacher Leeard started making the paella.  It looked really good with all the seafood going in.

Ivan stirring the paella

The group got a chance to make their own sangria.  Ours was really strong since Ivan put a lot of alcohol in it.  I don’t like putting too much orange juice since it’s very overpowering.

The paella was served later on.  It was very tasteless.  Ivan and I have made better paella at home in Las Vegas.

That night, we had dinner at Tapas Royale.  Ivan and I shared lots of food like bread and tomato and tapas: eggplant with cheese, anchovies, goat cheese with apple and smoked salmon.  It was so very good.  I liked that the restaurant played Queen and my favorite Smiths song Bigmouth Strikes Again.

Ivan noticed a couple that he knew weren’t in the restaurant and wondered where they came from.  We had forgotten that this restaurant has a bar with a dance floor.  It was located right behind the restaurant.  Ivan thought it was so cool that you can eat a lovely meal and then pop into their cool club for free.

The music theme for the night was vintage music and it was lively and fun.  The bar had red lights around it and mirrors on the ceiling.  I kept looking at myself.  I tried to take a picture of myself in the ceiling, but it came out very blurry.  Ivan and I danced for awhile to the unique music.

05/30/13
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Gaudí Tapas

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 11 am on May 30, 2013.  We used the internet while we waited for our laundry to finish.

We left at 2 pm.  I asked Ivan if he had the key and he said yes, but he didn’t check.. so I closed the door.  It turned out he didn’t have the key.  I guess I should have hesitated more while he actually checked.  He called the lady with the Airbnb apartment.  He was going to meet somebody to get the key in 30 minutes.

It was time for lunch and we walked to Irati for tapas.  Lil Dave had to make his own bananas with some bread.  Ivan and I shared a bunch of tapas: crab meat with egg, anchovies, smoked salmon, goat cheese with quince and cabbage.

We went on the Runner Bean Gaudí Free Walking Tour.  I asked Ivan if we could take a Gaudí tour and he found this one online.  Our meeting point was at my favorite square in Barcelona Plaça Reial.

The tour was 10 people and 1 monkey.  Our guide was named Miguel.  It was cool to hear about the history of Gaudí.  He was Catalan and refused to speak Spanish.

Our first stop was Palau Guelle with the colored chimneys – one looks like ice cream.  Gaudí broke the tiles and put them back together.

The group took the Metro and then walked to Casa Batlló which is definitely my favorite Gaudí building.  It looks quite gothic and cool.  I love the skulls outside of the windows.

The cool Casa Batlló

It has aptly gained the nickname The House of Bones.  I really love the style of this building.  It’s very unique and looks like something out of a dark Gothic movie.  The Chupa Chups inventor currently owns the Casa Battló.  Miguel told us that people still live here and their rent is really cheap since they’ve lived there for ages.  Imagine living in this cool building.

Gaudí was a madman and a genius.  He was very creative and loved putting color in his work. He was over way over budget with his projects.  He didn’t seem to eat much. He was either working or he was at church.   I love Gaudí’s Park Guell, but sadly the tour doesn’t go there.

We walked shortly down the street to our next stop which was Casa Milà or better known as La Pedrera (The Quarry).

La Pedrera

Roser Segimon and Pere Milà i Camps, the owners, thought that it would look like Casa Batlló, but it didn’t turn out that way.   Miguel said that women would cover their children’s eyes when passing by this building since they thought it was so ugly.  It’s not the prettiest of buildings.  I’ve heard the statues on the roof are really worth looking at.  It was a troubled commission with Gaudí fighting with the owner and putting in vengeful things in the balcony.

I’m not too fond of this building.  From afar it looks awful.  Up close, the balconies do look interesting though.  I would love to see the roof though.  Statues on the roof have inspired George Lucas’ Stormtroopers in Star Wars.  I could see how he could have gotten inspiration from the statues’ helmets.

Statues on the La Pedrera's roof

Picture is from Gage Academy of Art.

The owners didn’t actually give Gaudi his all his payment in the end.  He ended up taking Milà to court and ended up winning 105,000 pesetas.

Our guide Miguel reminded everybody that we would be on the Metro and it’s full of pickpockets.  You should watch all your belongings and not have any loose items visible.  He said if you have a backpack put it on your front, so you can see it at all times.  Of course, somebody didn’t listen.

We took the Metro and we came out and an Asian girl got her wallet knicked (stolen).  Miguel went back to see what was going on.  Ivan didn’t know what was going on, so we walked on.  I guess they were trying to see if they could find it.  I’m sure it was long gone by now since the train had already left.  She thought that she’d be able to feel it if somebody tried to take something.  Really?! A pickpocket is not going to make it obvious he’s taking your stuff.

The last stop was of course the huge Sagrada Familia.

The huge Sagrada Familia

It’s a massive building that still isn’t finished and it’s been 131 years.  It’s sad that the originals model was broken since vandals decided to smash it.  But, they did somehow manage to put it back together.  I know it would be a big undertaking to try to copy what Gaudi was trying to create.  But, I seriously don’t know what’s taking too long.  Ivan and I think it’s because the Spanish are lazy and they take too many siestas.  Ivan says if the Sagrada Familia was in Las Vegas, it’d be done in 2 years just like the big hotels that are built.  The estimated date of completion is 2026.  I would love to see it once it’s done.

This side shows the death of Christ

Gaudí wanted it as a church since he was so religious.  One side is the birth of Christ which is the more popular side.  The other side is the death of Christ which isn’t meant to be nice.  The fruit’s meaning on the building means abundance while the chalice represent the blood of Christ and the wheat and bread are the body of Christ.

This is a great tour if you would love to find out more about Antoni Gaudí and a few of his greatest works.

We walked around and Ivan put the coordinates for Hector in his phone, so I checked out their pink boots. The price is €190. I couldn’t believe they were so expensive. I know they’re leather made in Italy.. but that’s way too much money. I know I could buy plenty of shoes with €190.

Later that night, Lil Dave went out to meet up with his cousin Senor Dave for dinner.

Ivan and I had dinner at Bohèmic.  This was a cute modern tapas restaurant run by a family.  Ivan and I ordered bread and tomato, sweet tuna, patata bravas, cod fish fritters, crab salad with the crab from Alaska and red wine.  For dessert, we got a chocolate cake with ice cream.  It was served in a cute jar.

Me with a spoon & dessert

The meal was delicious except the sweet tuna was rather boring.

I really wanted to check out the cool music bar I saw yesterday.  The Sin Copa Music Bar is cool since there’s a fake band on the ceiling hanging down.

Sin Copa band on the ceiling

Ivan and I each got a Kir Royal drink which was champagne and something else.. but, not sure what it was.  It was tasty and had a nice reddish color though.  I love Barcelona. It’s filled with many unique bars, restaurants and shops.  I could definitely live here.

Ivan was still hungry, so we walked around.  We stopped at Tapas Royale.  He had a fish and an eggplant tapa.

We went back at midnight since our feet were so tired from walking a lot during the tour.

05/29/13
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Sailing Barcelona

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 11 am on May 29, 2013.  We used the internet for awhile.

Ivan and I packed everything up and checked out shortly after noon.

We had to walk around to find a taxi which took a few minutes.  We hopped in and were off to Puerto Portals.

Lee was at the marina waiting for us.  I guess we had to hurry since we were late already.  He was mad that we brought our luggage.  He thought we would leave it in the storage room at the hotel.  He never relayed that to Ivan though.

It was another overcast day, but hopefully it’ll clear up later.

Headed out of Puerto Portal

It was great to go sailing on the boat.  I love how the wind goes through my hair and how the lovely blue water sparkles.

We drove to one place and it was really great.

Cool spot to stop in

Lee and Louise kept looking for a good place to anchor down and we did.  The restaurant in the distance looked good.  Everybody wanted to stop and go explore, but Lee didn’t think it was that nice.  Plus, the yacht had turned completely around and we almost hit this really cute boat that was next to us.  Loads of boats had stopped and parked.. so I’m not sure what the problem was.  But, you gotta do what the Captain says or he might make you walk the plank.

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There was a cool cave I wanted to explore here.  I wonder what’s in there.

Lee thought we should just head to Magaluf.  Ivan thought he’d give driving the yacht a go.

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We saw some really cool houses while we sailed on the sea.

Cool houses right by the sea

Lee parked the yacht in the middle of the sea.

Lee driving with his first mate Louise by his side

Louise was at the front of the yacht making sure the anchor went down alright.

Lil Dave was excited to see Reggie the bear again, so he decided to share some of his bananas with Reggie and chat about traveling and Spain.

Louise, the first mate of the Encore, took the cover off the rib (rigid inflatable boat).

We piled on to the rib.  I’m glad I got to take a good picture of the yacht from the rib.

The lovely Encore

Lee asked Louise if the anchor was tight enough.  She thought it was fine.  Lee drove us to the dock and we got out.  The beach was a lot busier than yesterday.

It was time to find a restaurant for lunch.  Lee thought Godfather’s was good.  We were too hungry to make an effort to find something else, so we went to sit down.

Ivan ordered a veggie burger while I got the grilled sole.  Ivan and I got sparkling water since I had a big headache from all that drinking yesterday.

Lee kept looking at the boat to see if it was moving.  He couldn’t relax at all.  He rushed off a few minutes later since he swore the boat had moved a lot.

Our food came and Lee was moving the boat and putting the anchor down.  The food was so good.  I’m glad I got the sole this time since it was so much better than the chicken breast.

Lee came back when we were eating.  He said the boat had actually moved.  Goodness, it seems like so much stress owning a boat.

Lee went to grab our luggage while we went to grab a popsicle. We found the best popsicles which are Magnum No. 1 Kiss – Crème Brulee.

We gathered our luggage and Lil Dave.  It was time to say good-bye.  We hugged and said bye to Lee and Louise.  I was sad because they’re both so cool.  It’s great to be able to hang out with people who you love chatting to and you have lots of fun with them.  I hope we can meet up with them later in our trip in London.

Ivan and I walked to find a place to use the internet since we had time to spare.  Chi Lounge was a perfect place to grab a rosé with free wi-fi.

We got a taxi to the airport at 5:15 pm.  Check in and Security were pretty quiet so we got through at 5:45 PM.

The gate wasn’t listed yet, so we just sat down and played our Candy Crush Saga games. No free wi-fi at this airport which is such a shame.

Our flight was leaving at 6:55 pm, but boarding was late at 6:35 pm.

Ivan and I were sat in different seats (a few rows apart) since it was two different booking and it was a busy flight.  Somehow, Ivan ended up in first class with a bit more leg room.

I don’t even remember taking off since I was tired for some reason and fell asleep.. probably since I was still hungover.  The flight was only an hour.

We grabbed our luggage and went to the Aerobús.  It was a 30 minute ride to La Rambla.

We arrived at the Airbnb apartment at 9 pm.  It was 15 flights of stairs to reach the 3rd floor.  In Barcelona, there’s a ground floor, a principal and then it starts with the first floor.  At times like this, I wish we had our big backpacks again.  We’re actually not backpacking this time, like we usually do, since we bought two pink rolling suitcases.  I did my best with carrying the suitcase most of the way.  Ivan was sweet and helped me for a few flights since I was struggling.

Dinner was at Quimet & Quimet.  Ivan read about this restaurant online and Anthony Bourdain visited it… so, it’s very popular.  It probably doesn’t help that the bar is really small.  It was super crowded when we went.  Ivan and I squeezed ourselves inside.  I found a spot for us to eat, so I saved it while Ivan went to the long line to order tapas.

Can you spot Ivan?

The place has so many bottles of wine gracing the walls around the bar.  The prices were quite reasonable.  I love checking out wine bottle labels.  I will buy a wine based on it’s label alone.  The cute or more creative ones really stand out for me.

Lil Dave brought his own bananas to make his own tapas.  It’s hard to find banana tapas anywhere. Ivan purchased a bunch of pescetarian tapas like squid stuffed with tuna, shrimp with caviar on top, cod and goat cheese with fish.

Tapas & Wine

I love the goat cheese ones because they’re almost always good – how can you go wrong with goat cheese?  I love these tapa bars that have unique tapas.  It just makes you want to try all the different ones!  The food was so very tasty here.  It was cheap and tasted great with a glass of red wine.

Ivan and me at Quimet & Quimet

I highly recommend this place.. but be aware that they’ll probably be a crowd of people inside.

We started walking to a bar that we tried to go to the last time we were in Barcelona, but it was way too crowded to get in since it was the weekend.

Espit Chupitos was pretty quiet when we walked in.  I read that the bar can only hold 33 people at one time.  No wonder it gets so busy really fast.

Only part of the 200 chupitos list

This bar has a big list of over 200 chupitos (shots) with cool names for only €2 each.  I wrote down some of my favorite names: Tarantino, Terminator, Harry Potter, Kremlin, Creep Show, Baby Gum, Exorcista, Wasabi, Orgasmo, Johnnie Cool, Snoopy, Gonzo, Ivana, Sex, 69, Furby, Kangaroo, Tarzan, Pepino, Vampiro, Bin Laden, Coca Loca, Willy Wonka, Dracula, Bob Marley, Pulp Fiction and Playa Banana (Lil Dave’s favorite name).

Ivan asked for Antorcha since he read about it on the internet.  The lady put alcohol in a shot glass which I believe may be 151 according to a blog I read.  On a side note: I also read that some shots involve sex toys – Hmm, I wonder which ones.  A hollowed out half of an orange is then placed on top of the shot glass and sugared and alcohol added to it.

Anthorcha chupito

The orange is then lit on fire which I thought was really cool.  The lady gave us each a straw and we drank the sugary mixture.

Me and the Antorcha chupito

After that, we weren’t sure what to do. Ivan asked the lady. She said we had to squeeze the orange into the shot glass which gave it a sugary mixture.  It was quite tasty!

I was excited to try another shot or two since the list was so long.  I HAD to try the Harry Potter since I’m a big fan.  I told Ivan he should try the Creep Show.  The Harry Potter also was lit on fire, but the Creep Show wasn’t.  The Harry Potter came with a round lemon slice and it was sweet and tasted good. The Creep Show was red and super strong.  We only took a few sips of it.  I gave it away in the end to a French group since I don’t like wasting alcohol.

Ivan told me that a popular chupito is The Boy Scout.  A marshmallow is roasted over an open flame during the shot.  How cool is that!?  Unfortunately, they were out… maybe they ran out of marshmallows.  Too bad.

Ivan wanted to walk around some.  I would have been happy just trying more shots.

We saw some cool bars like Soda and Sin Copa Music Bar.  We looked inside both, but we didn’t go stay for a drink.  I also saw a cool leather boot shop called Hector that I thought we should check out tomorrow since I saw some hot pink boots that looked cool.

It was time to head back to the apartment to get some rest.

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