Monday, October 17, 2011

Hanging With The Family In Barcelona

A side benefit of the wedding was that I got to spend time with some of my family here in Spain. My dad and Ginny, who were here in the spring were able to come back. This time, my sister Jackie, brother Kevin, brother-in-law Larry, and sister-in-law Zahra also came. Say hola to our fearless world travelers on the airport-to-city bus right after their early-morning arrival into the Barcelona airport:

Because the apartment we rented wouldn't be available until around 3pm, we all headed to our place in Vall d'Hebron. We hung out there for a few hours while everyone took showers and some much needed naps. Diana made us lunch before we went out to see some of the city. Unfortunately, it was raining a little bit that day but we still managed to make our way around. We stopped at the Barcelona cathedral and then took a walk over to the Santa Maria Del Mar church, which is one of my faves:

After seeing the inside of both churches, we took a walk through Parc de la Ciutadella and stopped to take a photo in front of one of Gaudi's first public-works projects:

From there, we went back to Vall d'Hebron to pick up the luggage and go check in at the apartment. Later that night, Pau and Vladimir met up with us for some tapas at Sagardi:

Note that my dad, Larry, and Diana aren't in the photo above. Diana was able to score some tickets for the three of them to see Barça play Athletico de Madrid that night. Lucky them!

Pau was nice enough to take Kevin, Zahra, Jackie, and Larry over to Princesa 23, one of our favorite adult-beverage establishments, so that Diana and I could go back to the apartment and do some last-minute wedding prep. I'm not sure what time they got back to the apartment but they apparently had a great time.

The next day was Friday and we had wedding stuff to do pretty much all day. Later that night, after the reception, we did have a chance to go out for a round of drinks near to the apartment. Here are the newlyweds on their first night out on the town:

I was super excited that everyone would be here during the last weekend of September for Barcelona's Merce festival. I wasn't here for it last year so I was really looking forward to it this year. The Merce is the celebration of the city's patron saint during which Los Gigantes (the giants) make appearances on the streets of the city:

The weekend's festivities also include displays by the Castellers, which are teams of people who build "multistory" columns of humans. Unfortunately, some of the events were rained out this year so we missed seeing the Castellers. (Stay tuned for a "real" story about the Merce next year...)

Sunday's weather was much more cooperative so we decided to take a walk from the apartment over to see the incredible Casa Batllo:

From there, we walked down Passeig de Gracia and then down La Rambla to experience some local Barcelona flavor. Passeig de Gracia is Barcelona's high-end-shopping street while the nearby Rambla reminds me a lot of Venice Beach in California because you see a good cross section of the local population along with a ton of tourists. There are always a lot of street performers, people watching, and other stuff to check out.

On La Rambla, one of the most popular street performances is the "human statue" where people dress up in some kind of costume and pose for long periods of time to look like a statue. They only move when someone deposits some money into their cup (or to yell at folks taking photos and not putting money in...). I'm guessing that part of the popularity is due to the low barrier to entry...

After lunch on La Rambla, we took the metro back up to La Pedrera where we had taken our wedding photos just two days prior. This is Jackie and Larry up on the roof:

...and Zahra and Kevin near the first-floor entry:

We finished up the weekend by attending a fireworks show in Plaza Espana along with 140,000 of our closest friends. It was quite a show:

The short weekend was bittersweet for me. Of course I got married and the wedding and everything else was great. It was so nice that some of my family could make it for the big event. The bummer was that they were only able to be here for a few days. Oh well, I'll take all the time I can get and enjoy every minute of it! Thanks guys for making the trip over. I love you all so much and I can't wait to have you visit again. See you again soon!

(Thanks also to Diana who took most of the group shots.)

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