Monday, December 31st 2012:
Waking up on New Year’s Eve in Barcelona. I’ve always wanted to celebrate a new year in a foreign country, check that off the list. Again, downstairs for breakfast at the hotel. We then went up to the roof to take some photos and take in the view. Time to go out into the city and see as much as possible on our final day in Spain. Way too much to see. This was a really good day.
We started off at Mercat de la Boqueria and bought some more fresh fruit juice. All the vendors sell it and it’s really worth trying, just €1. I wanted to check out Bar Pinoxto, I had heard only amazing things and I was hoping we could swing by later for some tapas. We then cut across La Rambla and headed towards the waterfront through the Gothic Quarter. Taking our time wandering the narrow streets, maps left back in the room. Finally at the coast, I wish we had checked out this part of the city earlier, it’s really beautiful. Bright daylight coming up, sailboats, blue water, the sun in our eyes.
We walked north along the harbor, wanting to check out El Born. We passed by a circus seemingly forgotten by time. Freakshow banners, faded tents, ancient train cars waiting for a few Euros from passer-bys with a penchant for nostalgia. Walking west back into the shade of buildings and alleyways, we wandered through La Ribera. A much more upscale Barcelona, high-end stores and design shops. We spent an hour or so getting lost, turning back every time we found ourselves amongst the souvenir shops. Finally stopped into a cool little cafe for some coffee and wi-fi, Elsa y Fred.
Next we walked over to the Arc de Triomf to follow that road back towards the center of town. It was a beautiful day, sunny and 70 degrees. We walked through a park and found ourselves at the Barcelona Zoo. We had nothing to do so we decided to check it out. Definitely worth it. It’s easily one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. Every animal you could possibly imagine. The geography makes it pretty special, giraffes and elephants with ancient buildings and mountains far in the distance. We spent a couple hours wandering around and then it was time for lunch.
I picked up a map and saw that we were pretty close to 7 Portes, the restaurant we tried to go to a couple days ago. Again, the roads in Barcelona can be confusing. What looked like a straight road back to the waterfront took us out to the middle of nowhere. After about an hour I found an ATM and hailed a taxi. There’s no way I would have found it by just walking. We had to wait about 30 minutes and then we were seated. It’s upscale, seems to attract mostly tourists and wealthy locals. Bread, olives, mixed salad with mustard vinagrette, monkfish soup (one of their specialities), seafood paella, a bottle of Rioja wine. All amazing. Little placques above the booths show you were some famous guests have sat. Lauran Bacall, Che Guevara, Salvador Dali.
We then followed the street back to La Rambla, walking again past the boats and waterfront, sun setting. We went down into a Metro station to see if they had a photobooth. They did, simple souvenirs. Earlier in the day I read about the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes midnight. You eat one grape on each of the church bell’s rings for good luck. We went back to the market and most of the stalls were selling them seperated into little bags or plastic Cava flutes covered in cellophane, we bought two bags, moving on. Stopped at a party supply store to buy noise makers and a plastic gold crown. Back to the hotel for a nap.
Wake up. We went out and spent about an hour wandering around and shopping. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the night. The hotel put a bunch of free bottles of Cava on ice in the lobby, so I went down and grabbed two glasses. We drank them on the roof and then went out to find something to eat. I had three places I was dying to try, all closed. It seemed like the night was going to be a bust but then we found Artisa, just a little cafe in the Gothic Quarter. We ordered two sandwiches and a bottle of Cava to go. We decided to just bring them back to the hotel and drink and eat in our room.
At about 15 minutes to midnight we went outside to walk to La Rambla. Things were already starting to get pretty crazy. About a block from the hotel some drunk teenagers rounded the corner and threw something at Marissa that hit her face. Deep breath. We pressed on, grapes in hand. The streets and the park were shoulder to shoulder with people. Everyone seemingly already black-out drunk. Bottles of Cava ready to be sprayed, older tourists uncomfortablly huddled in store fronts. After taking a few photos, we decided to just go back and celebrate by ourselves on the hotel roof. I hate crowds like that. We drank the rest of the Cava on our balcony and watched everyone stumble home. Then it was time to for a very brief sleep. We had to be downstairs to grab a taxi to the airport at 4:30AM.
Long flight home. Barcelona was amazing.