barcelona!

quick note:  there are a ton of pictures in this post – sorry!  i thought about trying to break it up into a few posts, but every time i try to spread trip pictures over several posts, i never finish the series!  and you know what? when i tried to do a huge post with lots of pictures it backfired on me.  several times.  editing pictures took forever, then my blog kept kicking me out, over and over and over, so it took me hours just to get these pictures.  remember when blogging was easy?  me neither ;) so please forgive me for too many pictures and too few words.

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we started our trip in mallorca.  you can see all the details here.  before you think this is how we normally travel, let me clarify:  this was a trip paid for by hunter douglas, a manufacturer that sean works with.  they allow their top sellers to earn trips based on their sales.  they treat us really, really well.  thank you, hunter douglas!

after our 3 days in mallorca, our bodies had acclimated to the time difference – yay!  in barcelona, we were put up at the arts hotel, a ritz carlton hotel. so… super nice.  the pic above was of their elevator lobby that led to the actual lobby.  fresh flowers were in mass everywhere.

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this was our room.  really nice, but nothing flashy.  super comfy bed, though.  and king size!  sean and i have always been on a queen and king size feels luxurious.  and lonely!  i can go the whole night without ever bumping into sean.

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the bathroom was awesome, especially the huge tub and the shower with the rain head and dual side heads.

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this was our view from our room.  not too shabby ;)

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our first day we went on a tour of the gothic tour, which was a great primer on barcelona’s history.

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supposedly, these were the steps where ferdinand and isabella welcomed christopher columbus.  my kids thought that was really cool!

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 did you know that spain was part of the roman empire?  if i had a better memory, i could tell you when… but i don’t, dang.  these roman columns were preserved and built right around with an apartment building.

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christopher columbus pointing towards the new world.

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overlooking the city

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one of our favorite spots was the boqueria.  it’s a huge marketplace selling fresh everything (pig hoof, anyone?), and lots of tasty treats to eat.  we liked it so much we went a few times!

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 the fresh juices were the best!  only 1 euro each, so we had a couple each time to try new combinations.

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we still don’t know what these were, but they were tasty!  we decided to try a few new things and it was so much fun!

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we took a tour up to montserrat, which means serrated mountain.  see the top of the mountain?  now the name makes sense!  it is home to an abbey, a boys school, and a basilica (or cathedral?).

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this is the incredible view!

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and this is the view straight down – yikes!

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this is the amazing cathedral that the all boys choir sand in.

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on one of our outings we went to park guell, a beautiful park designed by antoni gaudi.

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we thought this house looked like a surf house!

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look at the detail in the mosaic rooftop!   IMG_0932

i don’t think there was a right angle or square edge in the whole park!

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these medallions were in the ceiling above where sean is standing.  look closely and you can see cups and saucers and plates in the medallions.

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these benches surrounded the big open space below.  it used to hold parties and big city functions.

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this house was designed by gaudi also. its now owned by the owner of a lollipop company – seems appropriate to me!

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after park guell we walked to la sagrada de la familia.  we did a lot of walking this trip!

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this basilica was also designed by gaudi in the early 1900’s.  it was amazing!  i’ve seen a lot of cathedrals, but this one was more incredible than any i’d ever seen before!  this side looked like a sand-dripping castle.

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 this side of the exterior is way different than the sand-dripping side, but still great in different ways.  i love how the sculptures shared the gospel story!

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panorama of the interior

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distant relatives?

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we ate some of the best meals i’ve ever had in my life!  on a night when we couldn’t decide where to eat and didn’t have a reservation anywhere, we happened upon this little restaurant in the born district called llambada, and the happened to have a cancelled reservation!  the decor in here was super fun – salvaged architectural pieces mixed with modern elements and eclectic pieces, like this chandelier made of tree sap!  like i said before, we tried foods we’ve never had before.  since most all of the restaurants served tapas, we were able to try lots of new things at each meal.  the most memorable here: thinly striped raw beef with mustard ice cream.  sounds crazy but it was so good!

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gelato was an absolute necessity.

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sean was so happy we were able to tour camp nou, where fc barcelona plays!

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we even got to hang out in the press box!

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we spent every afternoon at the beach for a little people watching and napping, but we tried out our hotel pool one afternoon.   it was pretty nice – you know, someone laying out your towel or you, bringing cold water and snacks.  i could get used to this!

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hunter douglas hosted a few cocktail parties and dinners for us.  we saw these “statues” performing out in the city and then back at our hotel!

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kinda creepy!

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we were also among a special group that were invited to this amazing restaurant at the top of a cable car tower in the port.  how great is this sunset?!

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we had more courses than i could count – these aren’t even all of them!

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 our last night was spent at a private vineyard estate where we were entertained by the barcelona opera.

i am so thankful for the years of handwork sean put into his business.  i am even more thankful that we got to celebrate our 14th anniversary (a little early) there.  he’s my favorite.  i am so blessed to live this life with him!

 

mallorca!

ok, no more excuses.  its time to get out my projector and share my slideshow with you ;)  sharing traveling photos is always a little tricky because i want to tell you all about our trip, but i don’t want to bore you.  so feel free to skip past this post if this is not your thing.  no hard feelings here ;)

a little background:  sean owns a company that works with a window coverings manufacturer called hunter douglas.  hunter douglas allows their top sellers to earn trips by selling certain products, and a bunch of other stuff i don’t understand ;)  this is our 3rd trip with them (1st was a mediterranean cruise and last year was a french cruise down the seine).  this years top trip was to barcelona!  and as luck would have it, the fc barcelona team was playing just a couple days before we were set to arrive, so we extended our trip on the front end to be able to catch a game.

then as luck would have it,  after we had bumped our airline tickets, the schedule changed and the game was no longer on.  bummer!  we had to figure out what we were going to do for 3 days and we landed on mallorca, an island off the coast of barcelona, just a short flight away.  we were also traveling with sean’s partner/manager and his girlfriend – they were so fun to travel with!

 

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we rented a house in the port town of soller.  it was kind of a roll of the dice in hopes that this place was nice, and it was!  it was even better than i’d hoped!  it was tucked up in the hills a little less than a mile from the port.  it was so peaceful, no sounds of cars or people, just the baaaa-ing of sheep and the jingle of their bells around their necks, and the twittering of birds.

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this was our room,

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with this view!  our doors opened to the patio with a view all the way down to the port.  can you see the tiny lighthouse on the left hill above the port?

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and this is the port of soller – it was just magical!

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 it was a circular bay, lined with restaurants and docks, with nearly vacant beaches all the way around.

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and these were the sunsets we enjoyed!  this was probably at about 9 pm, right about dinner time.  with our initial jet lag, and sleeping in until nearly noon, our bodies set to spanish time pretty quickly and adjusted to the later meal times.

 

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we had a rental car so we were able to drive to other parts of the island.  this was a nearby town of deia, one of the prettiest towns i’ve ever been in.

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we went for a hike from the town of deia to the little cove at the bottom of the hill.

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the hills on the entire island were covered with terraces, and most of the terraces had lemon and orange trees, and lots and lots of olive trees.  at every meal we were served a different type of olives as an appetizer.  i’m so bummed that we didn’t bring back any!

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this was the cove we hiked down to.  we brought a little picnic lunch and our suits and enjoyed the afternoon there.  i have a totally irrational fear of water, but even this was too inviting for me to not go in!

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this was also our first insight into the mallorcan culture and how the topless culture is so bizarre to us americans!  a girl came to the beach with 2 guys, took off her dress and only had on bottoms, sat there and ate her lunch with the guys (now in their undies), smoked a cigarette and read a book. i could maybe imagine doing this with my husband alone in a completely private area, but with his friends?  uh, not a chance!

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regardless, it was a beautiful, breathtaking view and i just want to go back there!

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sean found a great high-end bike shop near our house and rented a mountain bike for a few hours one morning.  he got some amazing pictures from around the island.

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this is another view of the port of soller from his bike.

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and this is back towards deia.

 

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we walked to town a couple times and got to see some amazing homes built on the hills.

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we also went into the main town of soller and had dinner in front of this cathedral that was in the center of town with a huge open square in front of it.

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this town, and really much of barcelona, felt like a mix between spanish, french and italian.  i love the little alleyways!

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another day we went to a town called porto cristo that was known for its caves filled with stalagtites and stalagmites.  we went on this tour that was really cool, and really weird.

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it had some funky videos featuring bach and some random opera singers that we couldn’t quite make sense of… but it made for some good laughs!

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we followed up the caves with a picnic and nap on the beach in porto cristo.

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sean took a nice long swim around the port while i slept like a baby!

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the sunsets just did not quit!

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right outside of our house were several hiking trails.   sean and i went for a little jog to check out the area.

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each day on mallorca we made breakfast at our house, then ate a simple picnic lunch, and then a great dinner.  we ate twice at this great restaurant called ran de mar (in case you ever visit!).

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our last day on the island, we drove through several other towns on our way to the airport and stopped for a snack and coffee.

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this time with sean was so refreshing.  having no responsibilities and total freedom was the best part!

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after mallorca we headed back to barcelona.  those pictures will be coming soon!