I knew that whatever book I read while traveling on planes and trains would somehow become a part of the trip, a traveling companion if you will, and I'm pretty glad I picked The Goldfinch to be that book. It was really a gorgeous book and appropriately moody. Traveling always makes you pensive, no? Of course, not having the regular schedule or responsibilities helps to free up the mind, but it's so much more than that. Going on vacation is like being given a permission slip to feel it all, to soak it all up.
We started in Barcelona. That is, Kristin and I flew from New York to Barcelona and Julie took the train from Madrid to meet us there. We watched the Veronica Mars movie together on the plane and drank the free wine and barely slept and ate awful airplane croissants for breakfast.
[as an aside, I guess Barcelona has been in the back of my mind since listening to The Rentals (1999!). We listened to that song more than once while we were there.]
Highlights in Barcelona (besides, you know, JULIE), in the order they appeared, as follows: brunch at Milk, Park Guell (didn't get nearly enough time there), la Sagrada Familia, and the beach. That cathedral pretty much ruined me for cathedrals the rest of the trip; it was truly awe-inspiring. And, I'm a bit afraid of heights, I learned, at least with the narrow walkways and open windows in the tower [shaky legs].
I'm pretty sure that there is a lot more to do in Barcelona, but I got a little food sick the first night and missed out on the tapas at Sensi (which looked delicious) and the absinthe at Bar Marsella.
Onward to Madrid! Monday we took advantage of having our tour guide/translator with us (before she had to go back to work) and we had tapas and vermouth at Bodega de la Ardosa (recommend!), walked down through Calle de Fuencarral to Gran Via, saw the Banco de Espana and Edificio Metropolis, and ended up at a rooftop bar overlooking the city (have I mentioned how much I love rooftops?).
I'll be honest, left to our own devices on Tuesday, Kristin and I really just wanted to go to the park and sit in the sun. And that's pretty much what we did. [And it was perfect.] We drank a lot of coffee too (shout out to my best buds at Vertical Caffe!).
On Wednesday, we took a day trip to Toledo, Spain, while Julie worked. Everyone said to go there and I did not really know why but now I agree, go there! It was wonderful. We walked around the little city, visited the cathedral, and had lunch outside at Ludena.
On the train to Toledo the thing I really wanted to listen to (while Kristin was watching her nutrition videos on her phone) was Lifted, but just the last six tracks. It was right.
Back in Madrid that evening we went to Bar Tomate for dinner (YUM) and Tupperware for drinks. Kind of a perfect day.
Thursday was my last day in Madrid so Kristin and I resisted the urge to sit at the park, and instead went to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia [to see Guernica (mostly)]. We also went on a little walking tour to see a few more sights in Madrid, including Mercado San Miguel (so fun), Almudena Cathedral, the Royal Palace of Madrid, and the Plaza de Espana Madrid [we managed to sit for a while by the fountain here].
That evening we took the train down to Sevilla and spent the next day riding bikes across the Alamillo Bridge (and back) and along the water to Plaza de Espana Sevilla (amazing!), and back to Las Setas (beautiful). We went to the rooftop bar (I'm telling you) and had tinto de verano (which in my head obviously meant "wine of the roof"). It was pretty perfect.
Saturday was a long day of two train rides, a plane ride, and a taxi ride but I finally made it to Paris and to Elliott. And I'm just going to have to save those stories for another day.