After our quick "nap," it was time to head out for our journey to Girona and Figueres – a 12 hour day of touring.
We decided to walk from our hostel to the tour office (we booked through Julia Travel) and along the way we stopped at a market for some apples and a café for café con leche, a sandwich and a chocolate croissant to split.
1) The café con leche from Barcelona has ruined my life because it was SO PHENOMENAL and now I find myself paying $5 for cappuccinos and other delicious espresso drinks with frothy milk and cream. I can no longer bear the thought of sad drip coffee with skim milk and a Splenda.
2) I swear that all ANYWAY eats in Barcelona are sandwiches of ham (jamon) and cheese on the most amazing baguettes (except they probably aren’t called baguettes there because that’s a French phrase). I believe they’re called bocadillos. Anyway, they’re so simple, but they really are delicious.
3) The chocolate croissant blew my freaking mind. As usual, I served as the human garbage can throughout the trip – finishing anything that Emily and Jon were too full to eat. When Emily didn’t want any of this croissant, I gladly finished every crumb.
Walking Tour of Girona
After some trial and error we figured out where we needed to be for the bus tour and signed in. Eventually we were led outside to the buses which were very spacious (no bathrooms though – which always stresses me out!) Emily and I sat next to each other and for the beginning of the trip our tour guide talked a lot about what to expect out of the day. Everything throughout the day was repeated in English and Spanish which made things a little more time consuming.
The bus ride from Barcelona to Girona was about an hour, and despite the espresso, I fell asleep HARD after eating my sandwich.
When I woke up, we were approaching Girona, driving through beautiful green fields close to the border between Spain and France – with the Pyrenees in the background.
Everyone was given a little radio with headphones which would make it easier to hear the tour guide as we walked around the historic city of Girona.
We had a few minutes to grab a coffee or use the restroom before meeting up with our tour guide. She was extremely sweet – and it was so adorable hearing her English portion of the tour. It was totally understandable, but with little mishaps like “print foot” instead of footprint.
The city of Girona is sooo picturesque. You really feel like you’re stepping back into medieval time as you wander through the cobblestone streets and alleyways. The cypress trees look otherworldly set against the massive cathedral and stone walls that still surround the city.
There are 4 rivers in Girona, meaning you can amble along a river (the view from one reminded me of Mykonos) and I don’t know about you, but I’m always happiest when I’m near water.
We came to a statue and our tour guide explained to us that the tradition is to “Kiss the Lioness’ Bottom” if you wish to return to Girona. Emily and I had a good laugh taking Boomerangs of us “kissing the butt” a la Finding Nemo.
Another interesting fact our tour guide told us was the legend of St. Narcis’ foot print (“print foot”) – apparently there are tons of legends surrounding him. One says that an army was attacked Girona and St. Narcis ran out of the city walls in one direction, but his footprint pointed in the other – causing the attacking army to go the wrong direction. Or…something that like. There’s a statue, and touching the footprint is supposed to bring you good luck.
To be honest, the rest of the information I kind of half paid attention to – it wasn’t super interesting to me and the fact that half the time I was hearing Spanish made it hard to keep me listening. But for an hour I was content to take pictures and look around. Emily is a big Game of Thrones fan and apparently they’ve filmed multiple scenes in Girona, including one on the massive stairs of the Cathedral.
Towards the end of the tour we headed into the Jewish Quarters – where Girona’s Jewish population used to live. Apparently it’s one of the most well-preserved in the world – and it was really awesome to navigate through the narrow streets thinking about how much history you were surrounded by.
By the time we were standing outside of the Jewish Museum and our tour guide was rambling on and on about what we would see if we went into the museum – Emily and I had had enough – we knew which areas we wanted to go explore on our own, and as the clock ticked down we knew our free time was dwindling. We peeled off from the group and scurried down an alley way where I had seen the elusive garlic mincing dish I have been hunting for forever. I picked out a ceramic garlic grater in a pretty pattern and for 5 euro I had successfully found one of the souvenirs on my list.
We started to make our way up to the main city wall, which you can walk along, and I was in heaven. It was absolutely gorgeous – perfect weather, greenery everywhere, the smell of fresh flowers, views of the Pyrenees, and not crowded with tour groups like the streets had been.
We found a secluded area and had a full on photo shoot in the fields – how amazing is the portrait mode on the new iPhone? I spent the rest of the trip making Emily take glamour shots of me. Not vain at all.
I think we both could have stayed on top of that hill all day long, but we wanted to make sure we had time to eat something before we got back on the bus so we wound or way down and back into the streets and ended up eating at the most adorable café. Turns out that Federal Café is a chain of Australian Café’s with 6 locations in Spain (Girona, Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid).
Those Australians man. They sure do know how to do brekkie.
I felt like I was in Soho except surrounded by 100X more history and charm as I sipped my turmeric latte (!!) and ate my Greek yogurt with granola, composing the perfect Instagram shot of Emily’s avocado toast with MACADAMIA NUT DUST.
Even though it may not have been a traditional Spanish meal, it was one of our favorites of the trip. I think it was a combination of being exhausted and finally sitting down, the gorgeous setting, the fact that we were outside and the weather was beautiful, plus the food being so so aesthetically pleasing – not the mention the waiter was very easy on the eyes.
As we sat there, I realized there were SO MANY cyclists. With BEAUTIFUL, expensive bikes. They were no joke cyclists – and Girona is no joke hilly. I also saw tons of people running…maybe that’s why I felt so at ease and relaxed in Girona. I was amongst my people! I had found the bike riding, hill running, turmeric latte sipping Catalonians!
We wrapped up lunch with the perfect amount of time to go to the bathroom and re-board our tour bus. I was sad to leave Girona – it felt so homey and comfortable there – but I kissed the Lioness’ Bottom so that means I’ll be back one day, right?
Salvador Dali Theater & Museum
As soon as we were back on the bus, our other tour guide started talking again – and he was talking a lot. I just wanted to sleep. Eventually I tuned him out and dozed on and off for the hour and 45 minute drive to the Salvador Dali Museum.
At this point, I didn’t really feel like wandering a museum for the 5 hours we would be in Figueres. But as we stopped outside the museum and our tour guide started speaking – I was captivated. Not only by the interesting information, but by our tour guides passion for Dali and his work.
The outside of the Dali Museum looks very strange – but when we found out that all of the little yellow things stuck to the building are supposed to be BREAD – I was like, “Wow, even stranger than I thought.” Oprah might love bread, but I think Salvador Dali loved bread even more.
It’s not just any bread on the outside of the museum (which Dali fully designed himself) – it’s bread that was historically made for funerals, giving the museum a bit of an eerie feel. But the giant eggs on top (yes, eggs) are full and uncracked, representing life and ideas. Dali has a quote that I love – “Beauty should be edible, or not at all.”
It was really cool going to a museum of an artist that was a lot more contemporary than a lot of the artists you typically study – his references seemed a lot easier to grasp and understand, despite the fact that he was a surrealist and a lot of his work is very “out there.”
Our tour guide took us into the museum and you first come to a giant courtyard that has a LOT going on. He talked us through a lot of it, and I found myself hanging on his every word. I also had an epiphany that one of the tattoos on his arm was Dali’s famous mustache – which is when I realized this guy really knew his Dali.
Next we walked into the “theater” where there is a giant painting that will play tricks with your eyes – I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s cool! Then, we were told that we were standing above Dali – and he was actually buried right below us!
Dali was such an interesting person and I can’t wait to get my hands on a book to learn more about him. He was apparently super narcissistic, but clearly a genius in many ways.
I was sad when our tour guide was done speaking and sent us off to explore the rest of the museum on our own – but we really did enjoy a lot of the different rooms even though I’m not a huge art person.
The tour also included entry into the jewel exhibit – and while some of them were cool to look at, at this point I was dragging a little bit and didn’t spend much time there. The best part was potentially when we walking through the revolving doors into a pitch black room to a massive security guard standing there that literally made us JUMP and shriek. It was terrifying yet hysterical.
We exited and then realized we probably should have found a bathroom while we were inside before our two hour journey back to Barcelona. The security guard let us back into the jewel exhibit but we could not find a bathroom for our lives so we talked our way back into the main museum.
Then we sat outside at our meeting place and waited for the bus.
On the ride back we had WiFi and chargers - #BLESSED! Emily and I fell asleep listening to Ed Sheeran and other random tunes and the nap time was CLUTCH.
We got dropped off in Barcelona and started walking our way back to the hostel – I had survived the entire tour on two hours of sleep + random bus naps throughout the day! This newfound ability to function on almost no sleep set my “NO SLEEP TILL TUESDAY” tone for the remainder of the week. Eek.
When we got back to the hostel we quickly showered so we could make it downstairs for 8:30 group dinner. When we got down there, we were the only ones, since the group activity for the day had been watching the sunset from “Bunkers” which is up above Park Guell. We sat around for awhile, I journaled and an Englishman made me a cup of tea! I was getting reallllly hungry but we held out and waited for the group to return – including Jon. They had all been drinking wine for the past few hours, so the mood instantly livened up.
Dinner was lasagna made by Simone – a young girl from Italy with the most magnetic personality in the world. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was free and fun to eat with the group – while drinking pitchers of sangria and getting ready for the night ahead.
I decided I couldn’t handle heels again, so I dressed down significantly for the second night. We got to the bar and everyone from the hostel was given a delicious shot (the sugary, mixed kind) and then we all went in on splitting liters of sangria that came out in little personal kegs with sparklers on top.
Around 1:30 we started the walk from the first bar to the club – a walk that I usually took to Instagram Live – WHY?! Someone needed to stop me. The club that night was Shoko, and like Opium the previous night it was down on Barceloneta Beach. You can leave the clubs and walk out onto the beach, which is pretty cool. We didn’t like Shoko as much as we liked Opium and we couldn’t exactly place what the reason was. I think this was the only night that we stuck to our 3:30 a.m. curfew because we weren’t having an absolute blast.
While waiting in the taxi line to go back to the hostel, men walk around selling bocaditos – so tempting, but Emily and I passed because we wanted to buy our own bread, meat and cheese to eat at the hostel.
Another day down, and we were starting to get into a groove!