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Getting Here

Our epic adventure for 2018 brought us to Barcelona, Spain. This was the first stop of a 20-day trip where we explored Barcelona for a week after a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean. We made stops in the South of France, Monaco, Florence and Rome Italy, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Malta then back to Barcelona. Check out more about this trip below.

We flew to Barcelona in Premium Economy on Iberia. Having never flown on Iberia, we weren’t sure what to expect, but they had a direct flight from Oakland to Barcelona. Since I had a speaking engagement that week in San Francisco, it made for an easy decision. My wife and son, Julie and Marcus, drove down and met me at the airport, and we were off on an 11.5 hour flight covering over 10,000 kilometers. Iberia operates a 2-class aircraft – Premium and Economy. The seats were reasonably priced, and the service and food was surprisingly good. Definitely check them out if you’re flying to Europe.

We had booked a car to take us on the 20-minute drive to our hotel in Barcelona. We arrived at the W Hotel on the beach out on the point. We booked the room using our American Express Platinum points.  If you’ve ever been to or seen pictures of Barcelona, this is the hotel that looks like a sail out by itself on the point at the far end of the harbor. Upon arrival we explored the beach for a couple of hours and Marcus was “exposed” to European beaches for the first time. #myeyesareuphere That’ll probably cure him of ever wanted to wear a mankini. We finished with cocktails and dinner on the beach at the hotel where we were joined by Julie’s 92-year-old Grandmother, Hester, whom we brought on this trip with us. This is her first trip outside the US and her friend Peggy joined us for the adventure. We are so grateful to be able to give her this gift and share this amazing experience with her. We finished the night listening to a 100-piece orchestra playing right on the beach. In the morning we board our ship to begin a 12-Day cruise through the Mediterranean.

Back to Barcelona

Sunrise brought us back to the harbor in Barcelona after 12-days cruising the Mediterranean. We were first off the ship this morning thanks to being suite guests. This is another great perk of suites on Royal Caribbean. You gather at Chops and slide right off the ship without the long lines and waiting in the queue to get off. Once off we had a car take us to our apartment we rented in the Dreta de l’Eixample neighborhood. Then we walked down to the Place de Catalunya and jumped on the Hop On, Hop Off Bus for a tour of the city. The architecture is stunning. I don’t think Marcus felt the same way since he fell asleep for most of the ride.  If you’ve never been to Barcelona before I highly recommend jumping on this bus when you get to town. This is a great way to see the sights of the city and get oriented. Then you can decide where you want to go for the rest of the time you’re there.

Wandering Around Barcelona

This was a low key day as we attempt to start readjusting ourselves back to the real world in a couple of days. The go, go, go of this trip has us exhausted. We put Nana and Peggy in a car and sent them off to the airport for their return to the states tonight. Their adventure has come to an end and we’re down to the last few days.

After we sent them off, we walked around Las Rambles, which is the heart of Barcelona. Walking through the city is an amazing lesson in architecture and city planning. This city is so dense, yet everything flows so well. When your city was originally designed a millennia prior to the existence of the car, you do things differently. Everyone walks or has a scooter. There are, at most, 1 personal car for every 2 to 3 taxis. Back home we’re just starting to create life in alleys. In Barcelona, every alley has a life of its own – filled with residential, offices, shops and restaurants. It’s something to behold and is a lesson for US cities.

In one of these alleys we found Chok. Julie has been dying to find this place as she always looks for dessert shops when planning for our trips. It was not easy to find, tucked 2 alleys off the main Rambles. But once we found it heaven was discovered and its coated in chocolate. Behold the pictures of this place. A large bag of items was liberated from the store and returned safely to our apartment.

We relaxed in our apartment in the evening and watched the World Cup in Spanish. After each goal and after the game ended you could hear the cheers all over the city. When a sport is more of a religion to a community, the energy generated from it is infectious.

Barcelona Food Porn

Today was something different. We’re gonna call it food porn day. The morning greeted us with heavy showers that drenched the city. That changed our morning plans so we opened our floor to ceiling doors, fixed a cappuccino, ate a cronut, read a book and watched the storm. It was a perfect diversion.

Once the clouds cleared, we ventured out in the newly cleaned city. The skies were clear and a cool breeze made it the best day yet.

We wondered down to the world famous La Boqueria Mercat. This is one of the most amazing outdoor markets you will ever see. Think of the coolest farmers market you’ve ever been to in your entire life and then multiply that by 1,000. Yep, it’s that cool. Fresh fish, fruit, meats, empanadas, and so much more. It was a place to behold. We loaded up and brought the bounty back to our apartment to enjoy over the next couple of days. We may have also made a second visit to Chok to enjoy more of their stunning desserts. We did go to a different one this time so we weren’t recognized.

After siesta, we took a walk down the street through the Arc de Triunfo. This is the entry to a large park built for the 1888 World Exposition. This whole street is amazing and continues my deeper love for the design of this city. Tons of seating, outdoor restaurants, kids parks, bike trails, big trees and only 4 tight lanes for cars. Design well done.

Barcelona Olympics

This was a day at the Olympics, or at least where the 1992 Summer Games were held. We toured the museum and got to sneak into the Colosseum while they were redoing the main field. Such a cool experience to see all the history and the torches from so many games. As a former National Team athlete (rowing), it was neat to share stories with my family about some of the things I did – MANY years ago.

Today I discovered some of my Spanish is coming back as I completed several of our transactions today all in Spanish. Now, Catalan is beyond my understanding, but the Spanish is fun to use again.

Final Day in Barcelona

Our adventure is coming to a close as we wait for our flight to London tonight. With a late flight we had the opportunity to waste the day getting lost in Barcelona and enjoying whatever came our way. This was a day with no plan, no schedule, and nothing but time. Normally we are so planned out for all our trips, this was a nice departure. We walked all over, covering over 11 miles (thank you Garmin) and it was perfect.

We explored more of the alleys that I’m in love with, said hi to the fish and penguins at the aquarium, saw some amazing engineering and badass use of shipping containers as displays at the Maritime Museum. We continued to wonder some more miles which brought us back to our neighborhood where we stumbled into a locals restaurant that was the best food and service we’ve had yet.

Today was also a nice day to simply be thankful for being able to experience what we’ve experienced during this trip. This was certainly a trip of a lifetime.

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Author Christopher

I'm a 40 something father, husband and entrepreneur. I love to travel and experience life in between being involved with my son's activities, and running 4 companies, one of which I own with my wife of 21 years. One month after taking the plunge to do an epic 26 day trip from Sydney Australia to Honolulu Hawaii I had a heart attack. I survived because of the quick actions of my wife and the fact that I had been a triathlete for the years leading up to the event. Now, more than ever before, I appreciate what life has to offer and making time to go experience it, not just dream about it.

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