Sunday, April 15, 2012

Barcelona Day 3: Hop on, Hop off Bus Tour

Day 3 was again busy, busy.  We started off with a delicious breakfast at a little breakfast bar located in the La Boqueria Market (our cooking instructor told us about it). We all devoured a custard filled fried donut topped with sugar. Really words can not describe how incredibly delish this little treat was great fuel for a very busy day! After breakfast we started our hop on, hop off bus tour that took us around the entire city. There wasn't much we didn't see in the city of Barcelona!
Yummy donut treats and cute Spanish boys!
Here we go!

One of the highlights of the whole trip was getting to see La Sagrada Familia on the inside and outside. This is one of Barcelona's most famous landmarks and there is a reason behind all the hype. It's the famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi's, most famous work. The construction of the building began in 1882 and is scheduled to be finished in 2026 (exactly 100 years after Gaudi's death).  Most are skeptical that it will be finished in this time because of funding and structure. The base of the cathedral was not built to withstand the final product so there will be a lot of foundation work, etc needed to support this massive building. The detail in this building is indescribable and there was no detail left out. On one side is the birth of baby Jesus and on the other side is the Crucifixion of Jesus. My pictures don't do the cathedral justice but you can imagine the detail and beauty, none the less. When Gaudi first presented his thoughts on the design of the cathedral to the Roman Catholic Church, they were very hesitate and were not interested, at the time, at it becoming a Catholic Church. It wasn't until November 2010 that the Pope made the visit and dedicated La Sagrada Familia. If this interests you at all, I highly recommend visiting the website to learn more about the history of the Cathedral and Gaudi, it really is amazing!

Next big stop on the tour was Park Guell which again is filled with lots of Gaudi's work along with some great views of the city. I love the Spanish tiles and colors.

Kristin and I hopped off at Camp Nou (pronounced new), where the Barcelona futbol (soccer) team plays. Kristin is a huge fan and grew up playing so we couldn't drive by without hopping off and catching some photos. They do tours of the facilities but they come at a pretty penny and we didn't have much time so we figured we will just have to come back and actually catch a game (they were out of town the weekend we were there)!

Montjuic (Jewish Hill) was our next stop. Here we were very close to the Olympic Park but it was getting late (and we wanted to catch the Fountain Show) in the day so we didn't actually visit the park. Montjuic provides some great shots of the city and was a nice area to walk around. As the sun set, it got very chilly but we, luckily, found a little place selling tea and coffee to warm us up!

The Magic Fountains was a musical, light and water show; a lot like the Bellagio in Vegas. It was a perfect ending to a great day of touring the city.

And because it was our last night in the lovely Barcelona, we couldn't go without one more night of tapas and sangria. We found a great tapas place in the El Born/La Ribera area. Afterwards we did a little dancing and then called it a night before our flights back to Aberdeen early the next day.
Check out the before and after picture of the food. Seriously some of the best food I've ever had!

 Barcelona has my heart and I can not wait to go back!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barcelona Day 2: Bike Tour and Cooking Class

Day 2 was busy! We woke up early, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we were off our our bike tour of the city with Fat Tire Bike Tours. We couldn't have asked for better weather...sunshine and 65 degrees! Our tour guide was great, she knew so much about the city and we learned lots of Spanish history along the way. Some of the highlights of the bike tour were Sagrada Familia Cathedral(we actually go in to the cathedral on Day 3, so stay tuned for more info), Arc de Triomf, and the beach. We passed so many things along the way that it was hard to keep track. The bike tour, however, was one of the best ways to see the city; I'm hoping to do another one in the next European city I visit!
The stairs you see in the bottom of the collage were the stairs Christopher Columbus proposed his trip to Ferdinand and Isabella that would discover America! Arc de Triomf fun in the top pictures and the amazing Sagrada Familia in the bottom left. Riding bikes around the city made us feel like kids again!

Cruising around the city.

After the bike tour, we head over to a cooking class at Cook and Taste. We worked up quite the appetite during our bike ride so it was hard to wait to eat our yummy meal. Luckily, at the market, we were able to sneak a few snacks in. Part of the cooking class was a tour of the local food about impressive. I've never seen so much color in one place. There was everything from fruits and nuts to fish, meat and eggs; visiting the market is a must when in Barcelona! And our cooking teacher explained to us the different qualities of fish and meat which was quite interesting.
Kristin and I with our new Irish friend, Paula, that we met in the class. She was fun and ended up hanging out with us the rest of the weekend. Check out the beautiful fruits!
On the menu was Creme Brulee (made a little bit different than the French version but just as yummy and served chilled), seafood paella (paella is a spanish rice dish that is oh so good), tomato bread (simple yet divine, it's all in the type of tomatoes you use) and some sort of soup (I can't remember what all was in it, but I do remember it was yummy). Everyone was able to participate in cooking part of the dinner. I helped with the dessert and paella...SO MUCH FUN. And the good thing about this class is that most of the dishes can be made in your own home and we were given all of the recipes. Endless wine was provided and the dinner turned out fantastic. I would definitely do this again. Oh and I finally learned how to dice an onion (correctly)...who would have thought it would take going to Spain to learn than that!
Fun in the kitchen.
Next up: Bus tour!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Barcelona Day 1: Shopping, Tapas and Sangria

I can't believe I haven't blogged about my trip to Barcelona! I think the 1000+ pictures I had/have to go through was/is a little intimidating. I am going to break it up by day so I don't have to go through all the pictures at once!

About a month ago I took a girls' trip to Barcelona, Spain. There were 7 of us and it was a whirlwind of a weekend. Lots of tapas and sangria were consumed and we saw almost every inch of the city in just three days! Day one we didn't have anything planned (ie tour, etc) so we took advantage of the perfect weather and walked around. We did some shopping and started our consumption of some of the best food I've had and some of the yummiest sangria!
We found a 'hole in the wall' tapas' place that was delish! I love the Spanish much color!
First meal in Barcelona...yummy paella and sangria of course. Finished lunch with some gelato!

Stay tuned for Day 2: Bike tour of the city and a cooking class!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Deer Sightings

Saturday, Ryan and I headed back out to Loch Muick so he could see all of the Red Stag I saw on Thursday. This place looked a lot different then it did on Thursday since most of the snow had melted but still beautiful none the less. We had intentions on doing a similar hike to one I did on Thursday but when we saw all of the deer on the side of the mountain, Ryan wanted to go up and get as close to the deer as we could. And close is just what we got. I didn't have my big zoom lens on Thursday so this time I was able to get some great shots of the deer. We probably saw 100+ in the 2+ hours we were hiking between 100-200 yards from us. Pretty cool and if you know my husband, then you know he was a happy camper. I'm so glad I was able to take him back out there to see the deer and not be disappointed! There are some amazing hikes and sights to see around this loch so I'm sure we'll be returning in the summer.

Happy Boy

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hiking in a Winter Wonderland

Well, winter came in April this year! After such a mild winter though, we weren't surprised to get snow in the Spring. All the locals warned us this would happen and I am hoping it's just this one time. I want the springy/summery weather I talked about last post! Even though it's been cold this week, I still managed to get out for an 8 mile hike with a few ladies from the AWA. We hiked around Loch Muick, which as you will see is surrounded by mountains and is where the Queen's summer house is located. At some points during the hike, we were trekking through 10+ inches of snow but it was soft and fluffy and lots of fun. The scenery was breath-taking and we probably saw 100+ red stag along the way. I want to go back soon with Ryan to find the 'hidden' waterfall and so he can see all of the deer!
Can you spot the deer?

Beautiful Loch Muick

More Stag
The weather was so calm, perfect reflections of the mountains in the water

Glas Allt Shiel-Queen Victoria's Summer House
Enjoying lunch on the front lawn of the Queen's summer house