Expat Life, Travel

Gaudi, Messi and Sangria

Gaudi, he was an interesting dude. Devoted his life to his work, stopped showering and gave up on love. Or perhaps love gave up on him given his devotion to his work and not his hygiene.

Anyway, Scott and I enjoyed the land of Gaudi recently by visiting Barcelona for my birthday weekend. We toured Sagrada Familia, which is coming along 136 years later.

The tallest point will be double the current height once completed

 Gaudi was known for being pretty particular about things and said it would take at least 200 years to finish his vision. But his successors are being ambitious and going to try to finish it in 144 years, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his death. So mark your calendars to be in Barcelona for 2026 ladies and gentlemen!

Gaudi’s inspiration is the outdoors, this is my kind of outdoors!

We did both an audio tour inside and went up the towers to see the view of the city. You take an elevator up and then cross over a small bridge where you can check out the work they are doing up close and personal. If you are claustrophobic don’t even attempt this, as it’s the tiniest bridge and even smaller spiral staircase back down.

Pretty fancy fruit
View from the bridge and the shadow of the basilica

After Sagrada Familia, Scott and I continued our Gaudi tour to Park Guell, a beautiful park that was originally designed for rich people to enjoy. Because they deserve that.

Rich people like lizards apparently

Unfortunately, Gaudi’s wish didn’t come true and instead the park is for tourists to bump into each other while taking cool Instagram shots.

Like this 
And this 

Park Guell is huge and there is a big portion that is free, but heads up, if you come via metro you will walk around in the woods for a little bit. And well, you know how I feel about that. Fortunately, I was able to escape to the concrete and masses of people after about 10 minutes and €7.

Views from the top of the monumental core in Park Guell

After we explored the work of Gaudi we moved on to the work of Messi. Lionel Messi that is, who’s like the Lebron James of soccer or something. We visited Camp Nou and the main attraction was all of Messi’s trophies. There were a ton of gold shoes and gold soccer balls that people were literally running over me to take pictures of.

Looks pretty uncomfortable

I discovered these were the European player of the year and World player of the year trophies. La di da. I compared them to a Heisman trophy or a Super Bowl ring and Scott of course took that opportunity to say they were better, because America only plays against themselves. Ouch. I always walk right into that insult, but fair enough.

That’s what Messi looks like FYI

Not to brag, but I have been on several stadium tours and I wouldn’t put this one high up on my list. There were at least three places where you took your photo in front of a green screen. If I’m at the real deal, why the hell am I standing in front of a green screen? And then they casually create a book of these horrible photos for you to purchase at the end of your tour. This isn’t Disney, calm down.

Anyway, don’t worry we went back a day later to see an actual game. I know, what can I say, I’m spoiled! Because nothing says, “Happy Birthday Ashley” like a stadium tour followed by a soccer game.

Dreams really do come true

During the game, we not only saw Messi score, but more importantly we saw Mr. Shakira. That’s right the husband of Shakira plays for Barcelona! Pretty cool. Kept scanning the stadium for her blonde locks and hoping this one time there would be a halftime show! But no such luck. Her husband is Gerard Pique by the way.

Not too bad to look at, that’s all I know or care about.

I have discovered the best way to explore a city, if it’s not too hilly, is through a bike tour. I did one recently with my friend in Paris and decided to try it again in Barcelona. It was great, shout out to Fat Tire Tours and Dicken. Yes, that was our tour guide’s name. He admitted how unfortunate that was as well. Anyway, it allowed us to see most of Barcelona in a short four hours! Dicken was a history buff and reminded us how brilliant, yet cruel Christopher Columbus was, how evil Queen Isabella was and how much the Catalonia people have gone through and are still fighting for.

Christopher Columbus monument. Or just another phallic monument dedicated to a man.

After the tour we went to the Barcelona City History Museum, as recommended by Dicken. It has the remains of one of the largest Roman settlements in Europe, Barcino, as Barcelona was called in the Roman times. It was crazy to walk into a normal museum then go down a few floors and be among an entire roman village. Quick tip- it’s free to see after 3pm on Sundays!

Just a settlement from 2,000 years ago
Most important part was where they made the wine. Obviously.

And speaking of wine, let’s talk about sangria! During my first trip to Spain, I was actually studying abroad and my Spanish was shocking. My best friends traveling with me used to describe teaching me Spanish was like Phoebe teaching Joey French. I think that is a bit harsh, but I can say one night when I was trying to order a pitcher of sangria (called jarra de sangria), a waiter spent a good 20 minutes trying to teach me how to roll my r’s. I still can’t do it, but let me tell you I have never forgotten the Spanish word for pitcher. And I made sure we ordered it when we were there!

Jarra de sangria, yummy!

We also went to the cutest place, called Casa Lolea, a recommendation from our good friend who lives in Barcelona. They bottle their own sangria and it’s amazing. We had three bottles and brought them back with us because they were so cute.

And we may have some of their coasters too

Spain is the best place to visit for some sunshine and sangria, especially in the winter when you are over the long grey days of the UK. It was a great 30 something birthday and looking forward to planning next year. Where should we go?

Surrounded by the things I love. Wine, sangria, small guitar thingy.

 #MyNewNormal

So I really love movies! Awards season is like Christmas time for me. I always try to see everything nominated starting with the Golden Globe nominations then ultimately making sure I see all the best picture nominees for the Academy Awards. Fortunately, one of the perks of my healthcare in the UK is that there is this awesome benefit of getting free movie tickets if you do enough exercise. Which motivates me to go to the gym and walk more in order to get a free weekly movie ticket! It’s literally like Christmas!

Checking these off one by one. Three Billboards is at the top of my list so far!

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