European Vacation: March-April, 2010

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Thursday, April 1 - From Lyon to Barcelona

Our flight to Barcelona was an early one, which meant we had to start out before dawn: up before 5:30 am and out of the hotel around 5:50. We took the tram to Part-Dieu and the Satobus back to the airport then caught our 8:45 flight.

View Photos of leaving Lyon (23 images)

Arriving in Barcelona actually a little ahead of schedule, a driver met us and took us to our hotel, speaking quite a bit in Spanish, figuring we understood since we said things like "hola" and "gracias" to him -- we understood about 2 words per sentence. After checking in to the Hotel Sansi Diputació and getting a map from the front desk, we wasted no time getting out into the city. We got some gelato, of course, and headed down La Rambla, the main artery of shopping in Barcelona. This very wide avenue is flanked with shopping on each side, and a large center walking area where restaurants set up tables and chairs for outdoor dining. There is also a variety of real people pretending to be statues that will move, or let you get in a picture with them when you put a coin in their bucket. At the end of the avenue at the harbor on the Mediterranean is a large column/statue of Christopher Columbus. He's all over this town.

View Photos of Barcelona: arrival and early in the day (36 images) View Photos of La Rambla (62 images) View Photos of the afternoon in Barcelona (36 images)

We found a great great place to eat lunch: Nostrum, which is deli where you could pick from a plethora of snacks, beverages, salads, sandwiches, fruits, and even packaged lunches with meats and pastas. After visiting the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, we walked down Carrer del la Princesa to see the Museu de la Xocolata -- the Chocolate Museum! By mistake, we got in free: upon entering, there was a swarm of teenagers and chaos, and we ended up going in the exit which was just a sliding glass door. Inside were a couple hallways and a couple of rooms with all kinds of displays (showing and explaining the harvesting and processing of chocolate and its history, etc.), processing machinery, and probably two dozen chocolate sculptures. Having gotten in without tickets, we missed out on the free mini-chocolate bars that we would have gotten with our tickets, but hey. We did though, partially out of guilt, partially out of interest, sample their drinking chocolate. What was it like? Melt a Hershey bar and drink it. Ginger couldn't even finish her little cup it was so rich.

View Photos of the Museu de la Xocolata (20 images)

We wandered over to the Arc de Triomf, and made our way to the Palau de la Música Catalana, which was one of the must-see attractions of our stay in Barcelona. The beautifully-decorated Palau houses a restaurant and tapas bar, and runs several tours during the day. We bought tickets for the English tour at 17:00, which took us through hallways and greatrooms and lobbies, up staircases, and into the main music hall. No photography was allowed during the tour, we found out, after Neil had taken several pictures. Oops.

View Photos of the evening, inclucing the Palau de la Música (37 images)

After the Palau tour, it was back to the hotel for some rest for an hour or so before heading out down La Rambla again in search of dinner. We found Restaurante San Remo where Ginger had seafood paella and Neil had a roasted pork leg. Stopping at shops for some souvenir towels and to check the prices of FC Barcelona jerseys, and at a café for a café con leche, we made our way back to the hotel, where Neil watched the Europa League match between Benfica and Liverpool and worked out a sudoku puzzle before retiring for the night.