Tuesday, October 18, 2011

we're back

So the Europe trip happened. We got back last Tuesday night, and I'm finally feeling like I'm in the right time zone again. The trip itself was pretty awesome, but I'll get to that. First, I need to recap the beginning of the week that we left, which seems like a very long time ago.

We start on the Saturday before the trip. With no ideas for a picture and no ideas for dinner until it was almost time to eat, Steve and I went to Heart that evening. We had a cheese plate, a couple glasses of wine, a sandwich, and some bland polenta that was absolutely drowning in truffle oil. Aside from that polenta, it was a good dinner. I guess we just stick to the cold offerings there from now on. It's all about the cheese plate anyway.

253/365 cheese plate

Sunday was a day that I had put on my calendar long ago, after counting out the numbers for my days. You see, both times that I've done a 365 project, I've kept an eye out for interesting numbers in the neighborhood. I hoped to use them for milestones like day 50, 100, 183 (halfway), 300 or 365. I never actually found the numbers I needed for those, though. This year, I noticed that an old wooden door down the street had the number 254 on it, and I put it on my list of ideas. Might as well save it for day 254, I figured. Well, day 254 came that Sunday, and it also happened to be September 11. The picture doesn't specifically reference the date, but I liked how it ended up with a little bit of shimmery bokeh through the broken wood of the door.


Monday's picture was an Elsa shot, since I watched her for a little while that day. She was being rather pleasant, so I put her on Dan and Carmen's bed for some pictures.

255/365 mama said knock you out

Tuesday, the day before we left, was extra busy and extra social. I met Flickr friend Suz and her husband Joe at Dynamo Donuts for breakfast with Ellie, who was in town. (Ellie started the 365 group that Suz and I both posted to for our projects.) We had a donut feast and a good chat, although I didn't take all that many pictures. This first shot of the day ended up being my favorite, even though I didn't try very hard to compose it and I forgot that my ISO was still turned way up.

256/365 donut feast

The rest of Tuesday was going to be spent packing, but I ended up going out for a sushi lunch with Carmen and a screaming Elsa at Hamano. Carmen spent the whole time trying to quiet Elsa outside the restaurant while I was eating my food. When I finished, I took the baby around the block in her stroller, pushing her as fast as I could up the bumpy hill. She finally fell asleep, but Carmen had already gotten her food packaged up to take home.

And then I spent half of the afternoon video chatting with Chrissy, while only sort of packing. At least I had that night and most of the next day to finish up.

Wednesday came and it was time to leave for the big Europe trip. Around 4:30pm, we said goodbye to Carmen and Elsa—Dan was at work—and we rode BART to the airport. Our flight was around 7pm, so I had some time to find a picture to take while we waited.

257/365 the beginning

We flew British Airways to London Heathrow and arrived at about 1pm their time. The flight itself was fine; we had seat-back entertainment systems, and I watched a Martin Sheen movie called The Way, about a guy walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain after his son dies. It was quite good, and it was fitting since we were going to Spain first. I slept on and off for maybe 4 hours on the plane, so it was short night.

The next day felt like it started in London, as we followed the signs to find our connecting flight. We had to change terminals by shuttle bus, go through security again, and then take another bus from our "gate" to the plane. But we finally made it to Barcelona that evening, taking the Aerobus from the airport to the city center.

We checked into our hotel in the Eixample neighborhood, and I promptly looked to see what the view was from the balcony. Not too shabby.

258/365 barcelona

After showering and changing our clothes, we went out for a late dinner at Tapas 24. (Late for us, but normal or early by Spain standards.) The food was good, but we decided that Contigo is better. Jetlag and smaller appetites may have played some part in that assertion... Still, Brett's food at Contigo seems to be balanced a bit better—maybe because of the Californian influence.

Moving on to our first full day in Barcelona. I actually had an easier time than Steve dragging myself out of bed that morning, probably because it was night time in SF. What didn't work in my favor, though, was my appetite. Those first couple days, I had a hard time finishing anything. I drank as much water as I could get my hands on, and then I would get full after only eating a little. Not the best situation in the land of salty and/or fried food, especially when the typically large lunch consists of two dishes and a dessert.

Anyway, that morning's itinerary included the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. We had churros and chocolate for breakfast at La Granja Pallaresa—Contigo's are better—and then we hit the cathedral. It was big and dark inside... and partially under construction. So I have no postcard-type pictures of the building from outside, and I had to avoid a few pieces of scaffolding in my interior shots. The place was quite impressive, though, and the cloisters were pretty.

259/365 barcelona cathedral

After the cathedral, we wandered to the big food market on the Ramblas, the Boqueria. I had hoped to get lunch there at one of the food counters, but it was really crowded, and the fruit there was the only thing that really sounded good to me. I mostly needed water, since the heat and jetlag were getting to me. We decided to head back toward the hotel and try to find somewhere to eat on the way. One half-hearted lunch (for me) later, we were back in our room for the nap time that I had scheduled.

I slept for a couple hours, and then we went back out in the late afternoon to explore the Eixample and the Passeig de Gracia. I had hopes of knocking one of the Gaudi houses off of my list a day early so that we would have a little less to fit in the next day, but no luck. One was closed for an event, and the other was closing soon. We settled for taking pictures of the exteriors and looking at the Casa Mila gift shop.

The plan for dinner that night was to take the Metro to Placa d'Espanya, go see the Magic Fountain, and then walk to Lolita (formerly Inopia) for tapas. The first part of the plan went fine, but Lolita looked really busy. I wasn't in the mood to fight through the crowds when we didn't know how the system worked. (Wait in a line for a table like at Tapas 24? Put our name on a list? Push our way to the bar and hover for a spot to stand?) We bailed and found a restaurant on the walk back. It was kind of mediocre, but it was low key. We needed that.

Well, that wraps up this post! I'm working feverishly on editing the approximately 9,000 pictures that I took in the last month, so hopefully I'll have enough uploaded to Flickr for another blog post before another month has passed.

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