Our First Week in Gracía

Now that the blog is all up to date on our backpacking adventures, I’ll attempt to recount the highlights of our first week being back in Barcelona at the beginning of August.  Upon our return from Lisbon, Cass and I headed straight for our new home! We took the metro up from Plaza Cataluña to Fontana and easily found Sant Joaquim; once we climbed up the five flights of stairs to the cuarto piso (apt 4), we met Kim, the previous renter of the apartment.  She is about our age and is originally from California. Kim gave us the grand tour and we were thankful to get to set our backpacks down finally.  After catching our breath, Cass and I went back to the ISA office to retrieve our big bags.

Later that day, we met Bri in the Urquinaona plaza one last time and walked from there to Rosa Negra, a bomb Mexican restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed chips and guac, queso, tacos, mojitos, and margaritas.  When the time came to head home, we went with Bri on the red line and then said our goodbyes whilst in the metro… As I choked back some tears, I made a game time decision to run after Bri’s departing train car dramatically. Picture one of the chase scenes in My Best Friend’s Wedding; it was hilarious.  So Cass and I went home to our apartment for the first night and watched Eat, Pray, Love in our home theatre (as in we pulled out the futon in the living area because it’s the coolest room in the apartment and put my laptop on a chair). For the first few nights we slept out on the futon because we hadn’t yet bought fans for our bedrooms and hadn’t cleaned the apartment.

So the next few days were one large blur of cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, mopping, laundering, unpacking and organizing.  The next day Kim officially moved out.  Luckily for us, the apartment did come fully furnished, but we still had to get out and purchase a good amount of cleaning supplies, household items, etc.  We felt more like normal humans after a solid run to the grocery store.  Side note: grocery shopping is very different here.  In our area, the cheapest grocery store is called Mercadona and the closest location to us is about a 15-minute walk from our apartment.  So we walk there, grocery shop, then we bag up the groceries into one or two large reusable bags, and walk the half-mile back home, the cherry on top always being the five flights of stairs at the end.

Later that weekend, we took the train to Sant Cugat; Xavi and Mario met us at the station. We gave Xavi his gift for London (a legit map of London streets and metro, a mini-size Spanish-English dictionary, and a bottle of Tanqueray) – he loved it! From there we walked to Koro’s apartment; it was extremely hot and Tom (the cat) was out and about… Needless to say, I was struggling. Shortly after we arrived, we went to Bea’s with Mel and Bea to get Cass some appropriate hiking shoes. Not surprisingly, I already had an allergic reaction on arms. Sweet life. With an ice pack on my arms, we soon all started the two-hour hike up to Sant Medir.  The whole thing was for Xavi’s despedida (going-away party), so we stopped along the way up a few times for beverages; once we got to the monastery area, we laid out blankets and hung out and played games.  It was a blast.  Eventually we walked back down the mountain trails; Cass, Xavi, and I fell asleep at Bea’s as the sun was coming up.

The next day entailed an especially trying journey home from Sant Cugat thanks to celebrating a bit too much for our own good.  We made it home though, and tackled the large task of uploading all of our photos to Facebook.  Ben Jones, a friend from Nebraska, came to stay with us as our very first guest on Monday 8/5.  After he got settled in at the apartment, we all three went to up to Parc Guell in the afternoon.  Later, we did basically what amounted to a grand tour/ bar crawl (for Ben’s sake) that started with happy hour at George Payne’s for nachos and Euro beers. From there we walked through the Gothic Quarter, over to Las Ramblas, Plaza Real, La Boquería, and eventually over to Raval for some delicious burgers and beers at Betty Ford’s. I especially recommend the Texas and Ranchero burgers. Yum.  After walking around Raval, we walked back towards Plaza Cataluña and went to La Whiskeria; that was my first time drinking Jack and diet since mid June- it was like a little slice of heaven. We then made our way back to Plaza Cat to meet up with Josh, Xavi, and Alex. Allí hicimos el botellón.  Then we took them to Oveja Negra – holy hot inside, we finally got a table and a 5L beer tower. It was the boys’ first time there and I think they loved it. Cue sleepover at our house!

On Tuesday (8/6) we slept in and I finally finished putting up backpacking pictures on FB.  Cass and I picked up the apartment and cleaned off the terrace (it probably hadn’t been cleaned in years). After we worked out, the two of us walked to Marta’s near Sagrada to pick her up, and then we walked over to Paseo de Gaudí for tapas.  We got several orders of croquettes, patatas bravas, chicken wings, and calamari. After dinner, Marta cleared out her fridge for us (as she was leaving for holidays the next day) and she also gave us a yoga mat that was of no use to her so that was great!

Weds 8/7 – Cass and I shopped for cheap apartment items in Gracía then went grocery shopping at Mercadona.  Later in the day, we were just hanging out on the terrace with Ben… Ben was curious about what our roof accessibility was like, so he and I endeavored to simply check it out; after only a few minutes, a neighbor lady in the building next to us yelled at us (QUE HACEIS?!). We quickly jumped down. We worked out and then got ready for our very own impending housewarming party.  That night we had a pica pica (potluck) with Ben, Xavi, Mario, and Josh.  Right when they arrived, Xavi gave Cass and I several gifts: a cute welcome doormat that says hello in many languages, a Catalan-English dictionary, and a bottle of Vodka.  Huge score! We had spaghetti, chicken, potatoes, and chips and guac for dinner, then taught the boys how to play King’s Cup and beer pong – such a fun night.

Thurs 8/8 – We all slept in and the boys took the train back to Sant Cugat.  Cass and I had lunch at Mar’s, who is easily the best cook we know in Barcelona.  She made a delicious meal of gazpacho, chicken and mashed potatoes, and Crema Catalana.  I had already met Mar back in 2011 but got to meet her nephew, Ignacio at lunch.  Afterwards, Cass and I went to Plaza Cat to meet up with the boys; we went with them to watch them get tattoos.  We said our goodbyes to Xavi that evening, as he left for London the next day – sad moment!


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