|La Sagrada Familia Cathedral Barcelona|
|Casa Batllo by Gaudi in Barcelona|
Barcelona is quite large in my opinion and there are many interesting sights to see. However, in addition to all the wonderful sights and sounds of Barcelona, there is the amazing food. And if you are coming from Scandinavia like me, then you can appreciate all the assortments of tapas, paella, seafood and other culinary treats from this area. This area of Catalonia is especially renowned for their chefs and Catalan cooking. During our 4 day stay in the area we feasted on much of the food I mentioned and usually washed it down with a 3 euro glass of Spanish wine. Yes, that is correct, you can get a glass of wine in a restaurant for 3 euros in Spain, which is about the same cost as a glass of juice. In Finland you are lucky to be able to get a glass of wine on the menu for less than 10 Euros. Several mornings jogs up the hill from our neighborhood to Parc Guell helped me burn off the meals and make room for more Catalan gastranomic treats.
|Dali Museum in Figueres, Costa Brava|
The top tourist areas in Barcelona are the church La Sagrada Famila, Gaudi's famous architectural buildings which include Parc Guelll and Casa Battlo, and the Ramblas and Gothic Quarters. This is just a few of the main highlights as there is much to see in this great city. It is hard for me to admit, but we actually paid for one of those double decker tour buses and zoomed around the city soaking in the sun and the sights. I am not one to typically pay for a tourist bus, however with 2 kids in tow, this seemed like a reasonable option. The subway is actually very good in Barcelona as well, so we also used it for many of our longer destinations. We really enjoyed all that Barcelona offered, but suffered a bit in the heat and humidity. Even though I am a native of California, having lived in Finland for the last year means that I have adjusted to cooler weather patterns. Barcelona is an amazing city in many ways and I would highly recommend a visit, but think twice if coming in the middle of the summer. It is hot, extremely popular, crowded and you might be fighting your way through the tourist center.
|Hilltop castle in Costa Brava -similar construction to Eva's home|
In addition to staying at her summer home, we explored the coast a bit which included a death defying drive up the coastal mountains to an old castle that Eva claims is built by the same folks who created her family's summer home. We also spent a half day at the beach soaking in the rays and the children loved exploring the sea life which included sea urchins and octopus. Everything about the Costa Brava and the cute villages were just amazing. You here stories about many sun seekers from Northern Europe going down to the Costa Del Sol for vacation, but I think they have overlooked this gem of a place. I absolutely loved Catalonia and the Costa Brava and would return in a heartbeat. Living in Finland is nice, but an escape to the amazing Costa Brava should rank high on everyone's European wish list.