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Ashley & Dan’s European Vacation: Part I – Barcelona

Posted Nov 10 2009 10:02pm

Over the past few weeks, I have received several requests from travel-intrigued peeps to post about my recent vacation to Europe.  Yes, yes, I know it has nothing to do with Sweet & Natural baking, but I love talking about it as much as possible to anyone who will listen never want to let my readers down, so I had to do it!  Among historical sites and charming culture, I assure you there will be pretty food to drool over.  And…drumroll please…Dan’s pictorial debut on the blog!  Major excitement, right?

So today I present to you the first in a three part series entitled Ashley & Dan’s European Vacation.  This time we take on BARCELONA!

It’s always fun for me to visit a big European metropolis like Barcelona because I am totally captivated by the juxtaposition of ancient and new.  Sure, New York’s got its cobblestone streets and old brick buildings, but we’re talking decades old vs. centuries old!  Europe just oozes history.  I love it.

Case in point, check out the facades you pass while on a typical stroll around the streets of Barcelona.




And check out the streets themselves…


Cool, huh?  Dan may or may not have disowned me while I was awkwardly crouching down taking that pic.

Now I was an art history major in college, so obviously made a point to soak up every little bit of Barcelona art that I could.  I was particularly enamored by all of the very distinct  Gaudí architecture – it’s everywhere and it’s awesome.



One of my absolute favorite Gaudí sites was Park Güell.  It’s a big garden complex designed by the artist himself with lots of cool tile sculptures throughout.  Unfortunately,  it was crazy HOT the day we visited and you have to climb a giant hill to get to the park.  So there was a little cranky action going on once we arrived.  Luckily, that was cured with a picnic lunch and Dan everyone was happy again!  So we took some fun pictures.








Gaudí’s Park Güell tile work is the ultimate representation of Barcelona in my mind.  Love it.

Another fav was the Museu Picasso.  The museum is in old townhouses down a narrow street and  displays works by Picasso alongside biographical notes in chronological order of his life.


Super duper cool.  Like way cool.  But no pics allowed inside, so you’ll have to take my word for it or go there yourself!

Oh, and I saw a Cardinals fan in line!  Go STL!  That black blob on the left is an unidentified part of Dan’s body.  I was stealthily pretending to take a picture of him but, in reality, capturing the red shirted man.  Hehehe.


And last, but not least, for our aesthetic enjoyment, the Barcelona Head by Roy Lichtenstein!  Just chillin’ near the beach.  You know.


Now… FOOD!

I am a lucky girl to have a boyfriend who loves good food as much as I do.  It is definitely a priority of ours to seek it out while traveling.  So it is quite obvious that one of the most exciting things we did in Barcelona was visit La Boqueria.  If you love food, do not leave Barcelona without stopping by this glorious market!  Fruit, veggies, cheese, bread, etc. as far as the eye can see!






Look at these massive Medjool dates!



They tasted like heaven.  I am a changed woman.

We had such fun strolling up and down the aisles and picking out a selection of items for our picnic lunch – indeed, the very picnic lunch that worked miracles on that hot, hot day mentioned above.  To prove that miracle did occur, here is Dan – pictured for the first time ever onSweet & Natural ! – happily indulging in my latest brilliant food combination.


Freshly baked whole wheat sesame seed baguette + freakishy ginormous Medjool dates + goat cheese.  Perfection?  Why yes, yes it is.

Ok, here’s a prettier picture of him.  Because he deserves a better entrance than that.


And one of us together for good measure!


We took a lot of reflection portraits on our trip.  Most were just as blurry and off center as this one.  What’s a girl to do with no tripod or trust in foreign strangers to hold my beloved DSLR?

Back to the food.  Since we were just speaking of goat cheese, I feel it necessary to point out that this food item was consumed nearly every day of the trip.  I adore it.  Here’s an especially appetizing plate we feasted upon.


Goat cheese balls on teeny spoons with balsamic pears!  YUM!

There was also mucho wine on the daily.


I’m usually a red girl, but a cool and crisp glass of white on a warm Barcelona night is not to be missed.  Taken on the rooftop bar of our hotel.  Highly recommended!

And I could never forget this really sweet bottle of water.


Designed by Christian Lacroix!  I really wanted to take it home.

Of course, the chocoholic in me only took one day in Barcelona to discover that the city contained a Chocolate Museum.  I am totally serious.  I learned a lot about the history of chocolate production and the meanings it imbued on worldwide culture…


…and thoroughly appreciated an exquisite chocolate replication of Homer Simpson.



B-t-dubs, they give you a chocolate bar with admission.  Educational and delicious!

Lastly, it was in Barcelona that Dan and I declared our Vacation Mission: to photograph as many European dogs as possible.

Let me explain.

Dan and I LOVE dogs.  We love the ones we grew up with.  We share an obsession with Daily Puppy.  And we also have a habit of pointing out dogs to each other whenever we see them on the street.   Ooh – look at the Bernese Mountain Dog! So of course this habit followed us to Europe.  Why not document it?  Thus, here for your viewing pleasure is a taste of the Dogs of Barcelona.




Notice the repeat sneaky picture action in that last one?  Yep, that’s Dan’s White Sox hat.


And my personal favorite…


Seriously though, we took a TON of dog pictures.  When I arrived back in the US, I had immediate reactions of reaching for my no-longer-over-the-shoulder camera every time I spotted a pup.  It lasted for days.

So that’s Barcelona in a nutshell!  We saw some other things too – Barcelona Cathedral, Sagrada Família, Columbus Monument, Roman walls, the beach - but this stuff was the best in my opinion.  Hope it was as good for you as it was for me.  Stay tuned for Nice and Florence!

Posted in Randomness
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