Fam Squad

Having my family in Barcelona over this past week made Spain feel a little more like home. I was able to take them to all my favorite places. It was also nice to go to a lot of new places that I haven’t had the opportunity to go to yet. Some of those places included a wine vineyard, Montjuïc, The W Hotel, and some restaurants like Monster Sushi, La Luna, Cerveceria Catalana, Eyecream & Friends, and CDLC.

Thursday after I finished my last midterm, I met my family at the W hotel on the beach. It was a relaxing way to celebrate the end of my exams with drinks and a beautiful day. Afterwards, we walked along the beach and stopped at an ice cream place that I have wanted to go to for a while now. Eyecream & Friends is a really clever idea. They have you a pick a flavor of ice cream and two toppings. They add two eyeballs on your ice cream scoop to give your ice cream more character. We sat on a bench enjoying our snack and watched all the pedestrians walking along the street.

Friday morning we took a train from Barcelona to Vilafranca del penedes. This was about an hour south from the city. We arrived in the wine region where we spent the entire morning touring the Parés Baltà vineyard and learning more about cava, the Spanish wine. The only other winery I have been to was in Israel last summer, which did not even compare to this one. Our guide, Jemma did a great job showing us around the vineyard and educating us more on the process. After testing about ten of the wines, my whole family was practically on the floor. It was an exciting activity that I enjoyed a lot because I don’t have the chance to do that everyday.

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We were able to take the cable cars up to the top of Montjuïc on Saturday and strolled around the castle for a good hour. There was a view of the port and you could even spot the W hotel from all the way up there. We didn’t end up going into the castle but it was still worthwhile to take the ride up just to capture the scenery. However, it is definitely not a “must do” if you are just visiting the city for just a short amount of time.

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Not only did we do new things but also I was so happy to take my family to my favorite shops and restaurants. My mom and sister loved the Gracia area of Barcelona just as much as I do. We shopped around during the evenings from 7-8:00 pm when all the street venders are out and there is a lot of action going on in the streets. I took them to my favorite boutique “Clink” across from my apartment on Verdi. They sell women’s clothing and accessories. I also took my family to the Gothic area where they have a candy place “Happy Pills” that I know my sister wanted to go to. It’s a cute shop that organizes the candy by color. They give you a pill bottle in various sizes that you stuff with candy. Then they stick on labels with cute sayings. My sister got a bottle that said “Sweet Kisses from Barcelona.” It’s a great souvenir that you can keep for medications after you finish the candy.

By the time Sunday came around, it was time for my family to fly back to the States. I had such a great time showing them around my city and enjoying this incredible experience with them.

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Lisboa

I may just be one of the luckiest girls in all of the world because on Friday morning of last week, my parents and both siblings were able to take off from their work and travel to Barcelona to visit me for 10 days.  I met them at the airport in Barcelona so that we could all travel to Lisbon, Portugal together.  We arrived in Lisbon late afternoon and after getting situated in our hotel, we walked around the city to get a feel of what it was like.  We walked to the pier and it reminded me a little of Barcelona because of the water and beautiful sandy beaches.

IMG_7741Saturday was a day full of activities.  My parents hired a driver to take us around to the smaller towns outside of the city.  The first place we visited was a city called Sintra.  There, we visited the Palace Pena.  It was a beautiful castle that was on the very top of a huge mountain.  There was so much fog in the air that it was almost impossible to see the full palace.  I truthfully thought the outside was even more impressive than the inside.  Because I have seen so many royal palaces from traveling, the inside seemed extremely outdated and did not have gold trimmings along the ceilings and walls like other places I have seen before.  However, the outside looked like it came from a fairy tale book.  This is definitely a place I would recommend for someone to visit if they were taking a trip to Lisbon.

After walking through the entire castle, we stopped in the town of Sintra to shop, walk around the narrow and beautiful cobble stone streets, and get a quick café.  Even though we made a quick stop,  it was still enjoyable to walk around and spend time with my family.

Our next activity was going to Cabo da Roca, which is the western most point facing America.  It was a really windy out by the water but it was still really beautiful to see the crashing waves and smell the fresh air.  Our tour guide told us a frightening story of two parents that got to close to the edge to find their child and fell off.  After that, my paranoid parents were in a hurry to get back in the car and hit the road again.

After working up an appetite from running around the city all day we went to a delicious, authentic fish restaurant in Cascais.  I was so pleased to have fish because I keep a kosher diet and while I have been abroad the only protein I am getting has been from cheese.  I got a scrumptious grilled salmon and enjoyed trying a place I have never been before.  After lunch we walked around the fishing village and my siblings and I walked down to the harbor to get some pictures and take in the scenery.

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The rest of the afternoon consisted of going to the Tower of Belem, Vasco de Gama and Parque Eduardo VII.  All of which were more sites to see closer to where we were staying in the city opposed to the smaller towns outside of Lisbon.

Each site was nice to see but by the end of the day I was completely exhausted and needed a break.  Our driver took us to this fantastic famous bakery Pastéis de Belém to end such a beautiful day.

 

 

The line was all the way out the door and I could smell the baked goods all the way from across the sidewalk.  I tried a new dessert for the first time that were the famous custard pastries.  I made sure to shove a few down before my dad would convince me to give him the box!

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Sunday was our last day and was more relaxing because we only had a brief amount of time before our flight to Barcelona.  After what seemed like a long journey home, my family and I arrived back in Spain where I welcomed them to what has been my home for the past two months.  They plan to stay here for the next week and hopefully on my breaks I can see them and have this last weekend to spend together in Barcelona!