On The QT

Barcelona – Day 1

Our flight was at 6.15am which meant our alarms went off at about 4am!! It’s funny how you never seem to struggle getting out of bed when you know it’s to catch a flight… if only we had that incentive every morning. The flight seemed very quick (although we did have a nap which may have taken up most of the time!). We had an amazing view of the city as the plane dropped down and landed into Barcelona El Prat airport. We couldn’t wait to get outside to feel the glorious sunshine. We quickly collected our baggage, tried to quickly culture ourselves by reading some of the Spanish airport signs, before hopping into a waiting taxi and drove off to our hotel.

We were getting rather hungry when we arrived and so without wasting any time we went exploring our new neighbourhood for something tasty to eat. We were keen to try out some local cuisine so stopped at a restaurant called ‘Romano’ which seemed to be full of local customers. We ordered Foccacia which is a yeasted flat bread popular in the Mediterranean with pineapple and ham as toppings (it was like a combination of a pizza and a sandwich). It was absolutely delicious!

The feast of Sant Joan is celebrated at the start of the Summer each year in Spain on June 24th. It is the longest day of the year and the idea is that on the night of Sant Joan (June 23rd) the sun reaches its highest point before beginning to drop. The sun is seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth and so it must be given strength. The strength is represented through bonfires and fireworks of which there is an abundance of along with street performers and beach parties throughout the region. After we eventually figured out where the nearest underground station to us was, we decoded the public transport system and we were on our way to join in on Sant Joan celebrations. Climbing up the stairs out of the metro station and onto Las Ramblas was a little surreal. There were people rushing by in every direction and stalls selling souvenirs, gadgets, jewellery, flowers, tasty treats and everything in between for as far as we could see. We stood there for a second before we looked at each other and smiled in excitement! We couldn’t wait to go and explore EVERYTHING!

Still mesmerised by the electric atmosphere and buzz along Las Ramblas, we strolled along the stalls and admired all the gifts and gadgets for sale. There were extravagant street performers, artists working on new creations, musicians entertaining the crowds and flowers so pretty they almost looked fake! After some tough decision making, we chose a beautiful authentic restaurant for our dinner. It went without question that we would sample some Spanish food so we ordered a fresh seafood paella which  was deliciously juicy and succulent. We noticed the bakeries were all selling ‘Coque’ for the Sant Joan festival. These are bread style cakes that are available in either sweet or savoury. The one ingredient that they all share in common is anise which gives all of the Coques a distinctive aniseed flavour.

As the sun went down, we followed the hundreds of people walking in the direction of the beach as the city got ready for the annual fireworks display. We found a cosy spot on the beach, surrounded by families, groups of friends, and couples. It was nice to see so many people out celebrating together. The fireworks were lighting up the sky for hours and were coming in from every direction. We sat there in awe admiring them before heading home to our beds to recharge our batteries for the next day.

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