When I wrote the check for the dog sitter on Monday night, I had to count up how many days we would be gone. Answer: 19! So even though Tuesday and Wednesday blended into one day for us, they are technically, two separate days. Here we go.
As you may have guesses, Monday was a nightmare. I know Monday doesn't count, but I just want to let it be known that the day before we were leaving it was 8 p.m. before I even got home, and 9:45 before I started packing. VERY humble beginnings.
On Tuesday morning my Mom showed up 10 minutes early. I was still in pajamas, Dan was in the shower. It must not be a vacation for us if we aren't somehow running behind schedule. Luckily, as I may have mentioned to both my Mom and Dan a few days prior: it's Bradley, we do not need to get there a full two hours early! So about ten minutes after my Mom bid us a bon voyage, we were sitting at Gate 20 counting down the minutes til our flight left. 120 of them, to be exact. Luckily, the surprises started immediately as I was usher onto the flight with the 10 other passengers to experience my first propeller plane flight. Luckily, it was pretty awesome. When there are only 11 people on the plane, you board and go. And then you land and go... none of this sitting around business that I dislike so much. As we walked onto the tarmac in Toronto, Dan suggested I bundle up, because Canada is cold. He didn't however, warn me about the wind, so my travel pillow went flying. I should have just let it go... stupid useless pillow - but I'll get to that later. Dan rushed me inside because he said the abominable snowman would get us if we didn't hurry. I guess Canada is just like that - I'll ask Ben some time.
So three days later we had walked into the main part of the airport and settled in for our 5 hour layover. Usually, this is the kind of thing that drives me out of my mind, but since I had no time to plan our honeymoon when I was busy with the Plan C wedding (thanks Irene) I was grateful to have a moment to do some searching and put ideas down on paper. The itinerary I came up with is pretty bare, but it's a start. My plan (once I got on the flight) was to go to sleep. Unfortunately, the flight left at 6 p.m. EST and landed at 1:30 a.m. EST... not exactly prime sleeping hours. The plane was freezing cold, the seats are way too small, the travel pillow didn't work out because the seats had those tiltable headrests (which also stink), and the book I am reading was just way too interesting. I think I did fall asleep for about 45 minutes right at the end.
Why do I put myself through this? I was thinking. I'd rather be home with my dogs in my comfortable bed watching a movie with Dan. And then I thought of all the other honeymoons we should have taken: honeymoons that would include the dogs, and not require overnight transatlantic journeys.
But then, just as we began to dip down under the clouds on our decent into Barcelona, the sun started to peak out from behind the horizon. And it was a beautiful assortment of pinks and oranges and purples.. then I caught my first glimpse of the Mediterranean - a perfect turquoise shimmering under the rising sun. And I found a little wave of energy as day 1 officially closed when we landed.
So then, day 2 started in customs, which actually went quickly and before I knew it, we were on a bus bound for the city center. At 5.3 euros each, I don't know if I'd call it a "deal", but I'm sure it was way less than a cab. From the Pl. de Catalunya, we walked to our hotel as Dan swiftly grabbed the maps and navigated. After the last trip to Europe, we certainly didn't want me in charge!
As we walked, I thought, "We could be in NYC right now." Everyone looked so American, and aside from the street signs being on the buildings instead of at the corner of the street, it felt like NY, only cleaner. My initial plan was to go all out and do the things on the itinerary on day 2, but without any sleep in me, I just wanted to get into our room and close the blinds and snooze. Unfortunately, our room wasn't quite ready at 9:0 a.m. (barcelona time) so we left our luggage and started off to Casa Mila and the other famous works of Gaudi, including La Segrada Familia. When we arrived at Manzana de la Discordia, I balked at the 19 Euro entrance fee. Was it really worth it for us to spend nearly 60$ to go into this house? The answer was no, especially since I was afraid that La Segrada Familia would be more... and that was what I really wanted to see. So we stopped for Dan to have a croissant and some juice while I sipped the "coffee" that came with it. WTF Europe? Why do they always give you juice AND coffee? Why not offer more substantial choices than just a simple croissant and let people pick between coffee and juice? we could have gone elsewhere, but Dan was too hungry and I was too tired to bother.
When we finally got to La Segrada Familia, Dan had already lectured me about my shoes (which have a slight heel), the way I was carrying my camera, and the fact that I was walking too slow. Should be a fun honeymoon, I thought. Anyway, the line to get in was wrapped around like 3 sides of the block, so we just stood there and continued to sweat... because Barcelona is hot. Not hot like humid and gross, but hot like the sun is baking you and there is noooo breeze to be had. To my surprise, we didn't wait more than 20 minutes before we were in trying to find the English Tour. We missed the first part of it, but it was fine because there was also a museum under the church that provided us with the same information. Why get the information twice, you ask? Basically, we jumped on the 11:00 tour, and got a 1:00 "lift" ride to the top, so we had an hour to kill in the middle, and if we left the church, we couldn't get back in.
The Basilica (which it is officially as of Nov. 7, 2010) has been under construction for almost 150 years now. Originally, the plans were for a Gothic church, but when Gaudi came on the scene in the 1880's, everything changed. Things got all gaudi-fied and crazy. The bell towers are simply insane... well, the 9 that are currently up, 10 more still need to be built. Since his tragic death by tram in the late 20's, the basilica has remained under construction... even despite the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in 1936 - when most of the plans and models for the church were destroyed. It's actually really impressive to see, even with all the cranes around, and men sliding down ropes into the nave. The tour guide said that builders claim it will be finished in 20 years. That will certainly be a sight to see! Hopefully someone figures out a way we can travel like the Jetsons by then, because I'm not so in love with flying to Europe as it turns out. By the time our tour was finished, Dan and I sat down in the church waiting for our "lift". We both started to do that thing, where you are almost asleep but then your head falls down and wakes you up. It was kinda embarrassing... for me at least - I don't think Dan has ever been embarrassed.
As it turns out, the lift wasn't really worth the extra time or euros. There aren't any really good views from the top, and where there were decent views, there was always some other selfish tourist just standing there, not letting anyone else see anything. So we came back down the lift after about 4 minutes up in the bell towers, and started the long walk back to the hotel.
We agreed that sleeping would be beneficial for our next day. Then we also kinda decided (over pizza) that there was no reason for me to cram in a whole bunch of stuff "just because it's there." I may have had a travel revelation at that little table... but it's still too early in the trip to see if I will take the laid back approach or not. I just don't have the excitement I did on the first euro trip. Then again, my feet were absolutely killing me at this point, and I'm really tired for staying awake for the past 27 hours or so. I was surprised the whole way back that Dan didn't yell at me for walking so slow. At the end, I saw him shake his feet a little bit and it made me feel a little bit like saying, "oh sure, lecture me about heels, but you wear your boat shoes all over the country..."
Maybe I will save it for tomorrow.
Pictures from Day 1 and 2 are up! or, see where we walked.