recovery mode

 Jason had surgery two Thursdays ago, but it ended up being scheduled for late in the day so we spent the morning downtown looking at a rocking chair (which we really loved). 

I spent Friday home with him while he recuperated. Watching him hobble around made me reeeeeally dread my own hospital stay in under three months.

Saturday morning was cold and grim, but the afternoon ended up being nice. I made some cupcakes for our former ward’s luau. They were supposed to be pineapple-flavored, and the recipe I used did have pineapple in it but they ended up tasting like banana bread. Oh well.  

The party was fun and, per the old ward, very well planned. I was impressed. Plus the food was delish.

This week has been all about recovery. Jason was home from work Monday through Thursday on his own and he survived. Thursday was a pretty busy day at work for me, and then I had book club in the evening. This meant Jason was relegated to our bedroom with his wife-cancelling headphones. We discussed Notorious RBG, a pop biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The discussion was great and the frozen lime soufflé (RBG’s fave) that I made the night before did not disappoint. Whew!

Little Frosty is 29 weeks gestated, and I continue to feel really great. I know I’ll be huge and uncomfortable soon enough, so I’m trying to just enjoy every day. I haven’t had any back or hip pain yet, I’m still sleeping well, and I’ve been able to continue running (not far and not fast, but still). I have absolutely nothing to complain about. 

Little Frosty is growing (well, clearly we both are), and moves around throughout the day. I’m so curious about what he looks like. Supposedly this week he is the size of a cauliflower, and weighs 2.5 pounds. It’s fun to be able to feel not just his kicks, but actually where his little body is. There was an evening last week where Jason said “Wait! Is he curled up right there?” and indeed he was, as evidenced by my lopsided stomach. 

in which mom frost comes to see us and we say good-bye to dave 

Jason’s mom came to see us and Dave last weekend, since the semester is over and Dave is heading back to Utah to graduate (but also hopefully back here one of these days? It is my dream that one of our siblings will live near us someday. I’m working hard on Adam right now).

She and Jason both flew in Thursday. Jason spent Thursday afternoon cleaning the apartment because he is the best husband ever. We picked his mom up from the airport around 9:30 p.m., and headed back to our place. She brought us some adorable clothes for Little Frosty (including his first two hoodies!!) and a beautiful Robert Frost children’s book, which considering Jason’s deep and abiding love for the poet was a perfect gift.

The next day Jason and his mom went to his work for a tour and I just went to regular work. I left a little early so we could make our 5:45 p.m. reservation at Founding Farmers. (It was 5:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m., and at 27 I am already too old for eating so late). We picked up Dave and Rachel from the metro and headed over. I love Founding Farmers, and Jason especially loves the fried chicken and Jefferson donut. Our dinner did not disappoint. Afterward we spent some time at the apartment chatting (but in the living room, not standing in the kitchen Pullan-style) before driving Dave back to the Barlow Center for the last time.

On Saturday we slept in (well, Jason and I did. We are lazy. Mom Frost got up early.) and Jason and I went for a quick two-mile run. I say quick, but it was a slow run because that is how I roll in trimester 3. We would learn on Sunday that a member of our stake presidency spotted us, so good thing we made it out! It was also a beautiful day, the likes of which we’ve not seen on a weekend this spring.

We decided to go to Annapolis for the afternoon, so we picked up Dave (and his belongings) and headed east. The parking options weren’t as plentiful as usual, which we would later learn was due to the yearly St. Johns-Navy croquet match, which is apparently a big deal. We finally found parking on the other side of the bridge (for free!). On our way to the waterfront we passed Boatyard Bar and Grill, where I ate at a work retreat last year and enjoyed very much, so we decided to stop for lunch. I accidentally told the hostess we had a party of five, forgetting that Rachel wasn’t with us anymore. Oops. Thankfully the table didn’t take long, though.

Lunch was awesome. I had a flounder BLT, which sounds weird especially considering my loathing of fish but it was so good.

Then we walked around Annapolis. Did you know the state house is the oldest in continuous use?

Then we got some ice cream, because that is what you do in Annapolis. Mine: strawberry. Jason’s: far superior raspberry (and I don’t even like raspberry. Maybe pregnancy really does do a number on your sense of taste?)

We walked back down to the water, then headed back to the car. I love an afternoon in Annapolis. 

When we got back home, Jason and Dave decided to play tennis, since during Dave’s semester-long stay in DC they were only able to play once. Colleen and I watched. We had pizza for supper, then got everyone packed up and ready for an early morning the next day.

Sunday morning Jason and Dave took Colleen to the airport around 5:45. I wouldn’t know exactly because I didn’t stir enough to say good-bye. Terrible daughter-in-law. Jason had meetings later that morning, so Dave and I had breakfast and a little lunch and he repacked his bag. Jason estimated that the larger suitcase weighed 48 pounds, so Dave was hesitant to put his scripture quad inside. I learned from the internet that a quad weighs 2.6 pounds, so he went with it.

We went to the first bit of ward conference and then I took Dave to the airport. We are so bummed he is leaving, and will definitely miss having him and his Barlow buddies over for Sunday dinner. Good thing we will see him in a few weeks!

Oh, and the final weight of his bag: 50.5 pounds, meaning Jason was right on in his estimation!

We are so grateful Colleen was able to make it down to see us! It was the perfect way to finish off Dave’s time here!  

back to real life…

We spent the first few days back in the United States waking up waaaay too early in the morning, but that was the only negative side effect of our traveling. We enjoyed General Conference the day after we got home, and had Dave and a friend over for the afternoon session and chicken shawarma. 

I had a work thing Monday, which meant getting home from work a little later than usual. Tuesday I went out with friends for Dani’s birthday. Wednesday Jason went to bishopric, which likely means I intended to be productive but read instead. I have no recollection of Thursday, and Friday we celebrated surviving a week of work, cooking, and not being together all the time. Bummer. 

On Saturday we went out for Filippino food with Dave, something we have fully intended to do the entire time he has been here. It’s too bad that we waited until the last week of his internship, because the Fairfax Inn has far better ethnic food than its name would suggest (though to be fair they also serve American-style breakfast). 

After lunch Jason and I tried to go stroller shopping, which we did not enjoy. There are too many stroller options in the world, and for being fairly smart people we could not figure out how to remove the car seat. Also, how in the heck are we supposed to know what we want? Or what Little Frosty will like? We even took a break from strollers and wandered around cribs and bedding for a while. Baby things are a racket; all they need is a (tiny) place to sleep and a few (tiny) clothes to wear. 

We gave up and will go again after we have done more research. For some reason Jason didn’t go for my alternative plan, which was to stick a car seat in a red wagon to haul around Little Frosty.

Sunday Jason went to Mexico and I taught Relief Society. In the evening I ate ice cream from the carton while cooking huevos rancheros. 

On Monday Dave kindly let me accompany him to a Nationals game. We had ice cream for dinner beforehand and Jubilee, allegedly rated one of the 10 ice cream places you should visit before you die. I believe it. I had a passion fruit guava come that was awesome. 

It was a perfect night for baseball. Here’s hoping we hit another game before July 15! 
Today is Grantie’s seventeenth birthday, which is crazy. I wish we could have been with him to celebrate. I think we will be able to make at least one day of the region tennis tournament when we are in Utah, for which I am very excited. He is such a cool guy.

Tonight I went out with friends for dinner. It was so great to catch up, and spring weather has finally come to DC so heading home late in the evening was actually pleasant. This weekend Jason’s mom comes to town and we say good-bye (but hopefully not for too long!) to Dave. 

costa del sol 

Our train out of Barcelona was the earliest of our trip. We got to the station around 7:30 a.m. While we were figuring out where to go, I looked up and Jason was gone. He’d just gone a few feet away and didn’t realize I wasn’t following, but it was a terrifying thirty seconds. He said I looked devastated, which I believe considering I was trying to figure out how to find him in a country where I didn’t speak not one, but two of the local languages. (My worries were exaggerated, of course, because we both have cell phones and would have found each other and because enough people speak English in Spain that I’m sure I would have survived. Still, I did not like being without my buddy.)

We tried to buy two croissants for breakfast and ended up with four (darn!) because the coffee shop employee misunderstood Jason’s : as a , (as in, “We would like two croissants: one chocolate, one wheat” vs. “We would like two croissants, one chocolate, one wheat.” It worked out because our train ride was a little over six hours, so we didn’t mind the extra snacks.

From the second we got off the train I knew we would like Málaga. We decided to come here in the first place because it was one of the NYT 52 Places to Go in 2016 (first on the list: Mexico City. Check.) and looked beautiful. It is. Málaga is the southernmost major city in Europe and one of the oldest cities in the world with a 2,800 year history.

We were excited to be there.img_3412

This was the view from our hotel room. The guy who checked us in congratulated Jason on the baby (he may have congratulated me too, but probably using vocabulary I don’t know).img_3379

We unpacked and headed out to explore. First we hit the Alcazaba and Roman theater.IMG_2161

The Alcazaba is a very old fortress/castle that was apparently first used to spot and thwart pirates. 

From the top, we got a great view of the Málagueta futbol stadium.IMG_2136

Per usual, Jason got some great pictures. Judging from the pamphlet not much of the fortress is original, but was rebuilt in the 1930s. (Probably after that pesky Spanish Civil War.)IMG_2152

After the Alcazaba we went to see the Roman Theater. It was cool.IMG_2157

It’s the Louvre! No, it is a viewing portal through which you can look down and see the very old remains of a fish-salting enterprise.IMG_2163

We wandered the downtown area, which reminded me of Puebla.

There’s a beautiful park that separates the waterfront from the center of town, and it is full of palm trees and tropical plants. 

We walked down toward the lighthouse, past a bunch of beautiful boats. 

Our wanderings also took us past the Centre Pompidou Málaga, which I thought was a great building.IMG_2183

Past the lighthouse, we found ourselves on the beach. The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. This is also the closest we have ever been to Africa.

We had dinner at a little restaurant downtown, then stopped for gelato because there is nothing more relaxing than walking around a darling Spanish town eating dessert. On our way, we ran into the market, which we planned to visit in the morning. Many cruise ships stop in Málaga (yes, that is a cruise I would take), but we didn’t hear any American accents that first day.

To cap off our day, we took a spin on the largest itinerant ferris wheel in Europe, from which we had incredible view of the harbor, the city, and the Alcazaba.


Ferris wheel selfieIMG_2187

Miles walked: 7 miles.

This was the view from our hotel the next morning.

We had breakfast at Noviembre, a sweet little cafe by the Picasso museum. I went for the nutella crepes. We should have crepes more often. The highlight of our meal, though, was the (not pictured) fruit smoothies.  

We started our day at the Museo Picasso Málaga. Picasso was born in here and his childhood home is now the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation. His family moved to Barcelona when he was young. He returned to Málaga when he was nineteen, but never came back again.

After visiting a pretty extensive Picasso museum just a few days earlier in Barcelona, we thought this one would pale in comparison. We were happily wrong. The Málaga museum is definitely smaller, but had a really well-curated collection. We are still not sick of Picasso.IMG_2199

In the basement of the museum you can see the Roman ruins upon which it is built, so that’s a fun bonus.

The best thing about Spain besides the food and the beautiful language and the art are these alleyways that lead to historic buildings.IMG_2200

After the museum, we hit the market. I was prepared for something like the market in Coyoacan, but this one smelled better. We picked up some bocadillos (little sandwiches) and some Málaga-style almonds (not sure what makes them Málaga-style, but they are incredible), and some clementines for a picnic.

We enjoyed our little lunch in the park.IMG_2180

Then we decided to go to Centre Pompidou. IMG_2202

As with many modern art museums, there was cool art (Frida Kahlo! Picasso!), weird art, and art that we just didn’t get. I’m glad we went.

Then we walked to the beach.IMG_2203

It was lovely. Pretty sure I am going to reflect on this day in the middle of our frigid DC winter.

We went back to the hotel for a bit where I had a nap while pretending to read. Then at 7:15, we headed out to Tapeo de Cervantes. We had read about this restaurant in the NYT and wanted to try it, but there are only six tables and they strongly recommend a reservation. We figured we’d see if they could squeeze us in by getting there right when dinner started at 7:30 p.m. (Spaniards eat so late!!) Our gamble paid off and they let us right in. To be sure, the place did fill up in the next few minutes.IMG_2206

This was the coat rack right above our table, which made me laugh. “I didn’t know their little hooves could do that.” This was not the most memorable aspect of our meal.  

(Aside: our waiter thought Jason was Italian, which does make sense considering his heritage.) Tapeo de Cervantes did not disappoint: we had one of our best Spain meals here. We started off with a potato cake with smoked salmon and a ridiculously good sauce and chicken croquetas with pineapple relish. Then came the dish I ordered. I knew it was fried ham and cheese, which sounded great. What I did not realize (and what Jason didn’t tell me until we had finished it off and declared it delicious) was that the ham and cheese were wrapped in pig ear. Yep. Hope cartilage is good for Little Frosty. It really was good though. Our last two dishes were pork with french fries and caramelized vegetables, and tender, delicious venison. In lieu of another gelato stop we had chocolate and dulce de leche crepes. Me gusta comer a Tapeo de Cervantes.

We continued our tradition of an after dinner walk around the city, and stumbled upon a statue of Picasso. After spending so much time at his museums, he’s our buddy.IMG_2208

We also walked by the Roman theater and the Alcazaba, both of which are very pretty at night.IMG_2209

Oh, and here is the church that was right near our hotel. IMG_2210

Miles walked: 6.8 miles

In the morning we got up early so we could take in the views of Málaga one last time.IMG_2131

Oh, plus we wanted to get breakfast at Noviembre again. Delish.

With heavy hearts, we took a cab back to the train station and headed back to Madrid. This is how we feel about our trip coming to an end.IMG_2212

We got to Madrid around lunchtime and checked into our last hotel. We had a light lunch at a restaurant across the street from the Prado, then decided to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum. We got there two hours before closing, so we allocated our time carefully and were able to see basically the entire permanent collection, literally finishing up the last room of the modern section at 7 p.m. on the dot. It was another great museum. We talked about hitting the Prado’s last hour (when it is free!) but decided instead to go get dinner at Txirimiri again.

This time we tried a caprese salad and squid ink croquetas, and returned to our favorites, the hamburger and solomilla. We also had some good grape juice with it that has a name I can’t remember.

We walked back toward the Plaza Mayor through the park, and Jason snapped a serene picture of the pond.IMG_2213.JPG

We had hoped to get another torrija, but apparently they really are just a Holy Week thing. Instead we picked up some cream puffs and ate them on a bench. The weather was great, and we just soaked in our last night in Madrid.

Miles walked: 8 miles

The next morning we headed to the airport first thing. Our first flight was just under eight hours. We hit pretty terrible turbulence as we were being served our afternoon snack. (I could get used to these trans-atlantic flights where they feed you.) I’m not sure if it was the pretzel sandwich I had just eaten or being pregnant or the bumpy ride or a combination, but I started to feel very sick. I had to stop watching Bridge of Spies before it ended (I’m just going to assume they make the prisoner swap) and sat back with my eyes closed until we were safely on the ground in Newark.

We made it through customs without any trouble (thank you, Jason, for taking care of all our paperwork!) and had four hours to kill in the airport…which turned into almost seven hours when our flight back to DC was delayed. Yes, we could have easily driven home in that time. Instead, we had some dinner, charged our phones, watched some of the Final Four, and sampled some of Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova candy. Once our plane took off, we both slept all of the 45 minutes it took to get to Reagan. We made it home just before a huge wind/rainstorm. Considering it was 4 a.m. Madrid time, we were both exhausted, and very grateful to have General Conference the next day.

I’m so grateful we were able to take this trip together. It was a perfect last hurrah before our life changes dramatically in July, and I think we’ll both look back on it fondly. I sure love being with Jason.

barcelona, parte segunda 

Our hotel in Barcelona was pretty great, and these little vinyl recommendations everywhere were among its charms.

Plus it had hilarious shades so you could close off the bathroom sink. Weird or European? IMG_3366

This is as good a time as any to talk about our Scrubba. When planning our eleven globetrotting days, we went back and forth on what to do about laundry. (For the record, we are both in favor of clean clothes.) Bringing eleven days’ worth of necessities would mean bringing a checked bag, which we really didn’t want to do, as we Frosts are proud to pack light. Yes, that will change in July, but for now let us have our pride. Our hotels had laundry services but not laundry facilities and we figured those would be 1. overpriced and 2. risky considering we were hopping from city to city and didn’t want to have to leave behind our unmentionables because the laundry service didn’t finish our load quickly enough. Jason’s a problem solver, though, and his internet research led us to an easy solution: the Scrubba.

The Scrubba looks like a roll-top dry bag. Inside there’s a rough plastic panel that functions as a washboard. You load in your clothes (but not too many! We successfully did about three days’ worth in one go), add hot water and a little Tide packet, and roll down the top of the bag. Then you let out the air and roll the clothes over the plastic washboard. There’s a vinyl window so you can see the water change color as the dirt is excised from the clothes. Then you empty the water, add more to rinse, and repeat a couple times. The Scrubba also comes with a handy bungee cord clothes line.

Jason does all our laundry at home, and he insisted on doing our Scrubba-ing on our trip. I think he did it three times (at most four?) and it took maybe 10 minutes. This kept us out of a laundromat, where we surely would have spent an hour or two per time, and allowed us to significantly pare down the tonnage of clothes that we brought. Five stars for the Scrubba, and for Jason for being a laundry champion.

On the recommendation of the internet, we bought timed tickets for the Picasso museum. We headed over early in the morning. At first I thought we’d been too paranoid, but by the time we left there was a loooooong line and I was grateful we’d avoided it.IMG_2151

The museum was awesome. Highlights included some landscapes from his teenage years, an early self-portrait where he looks like a black-haired Grant, and some cool pottery. The best part, though, was his Las Meninas series. We had seen the Velasquez Las Meninas at the Prado, so it was really cool to see Picasso’s take on it.

The building was also really great. IMG_2148

Little Frosty was really active at the museum, so we bought him a book to commemorate the experience. It is a little Spanish board book about an owl who falls out of his nest. A squirrel helps him find his mother. It’s cute.

Then we decided to get some bread and cheese for lunch. We found the bread easily; there are seemingly bakeries on every street corner in Barcelona. However, the cheese wasn’t such an easy get. We wandered around La Ribera for a while, but could not find sliced cheese anywhere. Good thing Barcelona is beautiful because we did not mind the walk at all.IMG_2170

We finally found some sliced cheese and jamon iberico at a grocery store on Las Ramblas. The bread and cheese was delicious, and paired nicely with the candy we picked up from Happy Pills, a store where you pick out your candy and put it in what looks like a pill capsule. I couldn’t decide if it was in poor taste or not, but figured it might not be a successful venture here.

After lunch we took a cab ride to the Barcelona Pavilion. That we went here confirms that Jason and I are a great pair. The Pavilion was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the German exhibit at the 1929 International Exposition.

It’s an important building in the history of modern architecture. Great lines, luxury materials, water features.IMG_2082

Oh, and the Barcelona Pavilion chair. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to actually sit on these. It was so tempting!!IMG_2085IMG_2086

No one else was there when we arrived, so Jason got to go crazy with the cameraIMG_2096

We love modern architecture!IMG_2097

Yes we do!IMG_2109

We easily spent an hour exploring the not-so-big pavilion. It was rad.IMG_2110

Two thumbs up for the Barcelona Pavilion.IMG_2115

Can’t beat those blue skies!

The building on the mountain looks a lot like the Salt Lake temple. Also, I love the monuments in the middle of the roundabouts. Spain knows how to do a roundabout.IMG_2122

We wandered over to what turned out to be the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. It was gorgeous. IMG_2126

We were tired, so we took advantage of the escalatorsIMG_2128

Since we’re not Catalan art enthusiasts (and had already seen quite a lot of art that morning) so we didn’t go inside. The grounds were pretty, though.IMG_2167

Plus, the escalators took us up Montjuïc, a big hill and home to the 1992 Olympic Stadium and torch and swimming center.IMG_2129

We started down but got tired, so we sat on a bench for a while and watched people go by. Then we walked back to the hotel, where I took a nap. IMG_2171

We did NOT want to miss churros con chocolate on our last night in Barcelona, so we made our way there before dinner. Jason got a regular chocolate and I got Swiss (loaded up with a ton of delicious whipped cream) and we shared. I’m not overstating it when I say this is one of my favorite desserts I have ever eaten; I could have licked my teacup clean (and gone for another plate of churros). 

On the way to dinner we passed this cat building.

As our resident Spanish expert, Jason had been carrying the burden of selecting our restaurants, so I took the reigns on this one. I picked well. We had the best manchego cheese of our trip, cod fritters, fried vegetables (definitely my preferred way to eat vegetables), and octopus. I was reluctant about the octopus, but Jason was excited about it. Turns out I like octopus?! It had an almost bacon-y taste, and was seared which helped with the texture. I loved it. Even though we’d had dessert already, when we saw the torrija (Semana Santa french toast) on the menu we decided we had to get one. Our waiter advised us that the desserts were small to share, so darn if we didn’t have to get a second one. I chose the strawberry soup with candied basil. Both were awesome.

After dinner we walked over to Barceloneta. We were spoiled with lovely walks on this trip.

Miles walked: 10.75 miles

barcelona, primera parte

I was sad to leave Madrid after we’d had such a good time there. We’d benefitted from Jason’s knowledge of the city, and Barcelona would be new to us both. On the three-hour train ride we ate some crackers and some Cadbury chocolate (so good) and I slept.

We checked into our hotel and went out to explore the city.

The biggest surprise (which probably should not have been a surprise) about Barcelona was that everything is written in three languages: Catalan, Spanish, and English. We knew Barcelona was part of Catalonia (and if we didn’t already, the profusion of Catalonian flags would have tipped us off) but I kind of assumed it was a regional thing, like being from the midwest or New England. Wrong, since apparently every once in a while Catalonia wants to actually secede from Spain. Barcelona had a distinctly different feel from Madrid.

We wandered down to the waterfront and saw some beautiful boats. img_2109

Then we wandered us the narrow alleys of La Ribera. IMG_2116

We also got some gelato. Here’s little Frosty at 24.5 weeks!

We also popped into the Church of Santa Maria del Mar. IMG_2110

So far so good, Barcelona!    

Like Madrid, we walked and walked and walked. There are just so many cool streets and shops to explore! For dinner we finally settled on a place near our hotel. We had good cheese and bread and tortilla and tried some authentic paella. The restaurant had a bunch of different kinds, but we settled on one with shelled prawns, mushrooms, and squid. It was very tasty. We had dessert there too: crema catalan for Jason and chocolate mousse cake for me.

Miles walked: 7 miles

The next morning we got up early and had a good little breakfast at the hotel. Then we walked over to the Sagrada Familia, a bit over a mile away.

I’ve wanted to visit the Sagrada Familia ever since my cousin Andrea served her mission in Barcelona. I wrote her a couple letters because I always really looked up to her, and in one of her responses she sent pictures of the Sagrada Familia. I think I ended up doing a report on it. Anyway, I was so excited!

We wisely got our tickets in advance and I had done my homework so we invested in tower tickets on the Nativity facade as well.

We made it inside just in time for our tower tour. We did face a hectic moment when we realized the lockers (like the ones at the National Palace in Madrid) required coins, either .2 or 1 euros. We went over to the gift shop to get change, but thankfully the guard let us know that if you actually enter the museum you can’t get out (whew! Crisis averted!) so we changed our 5 euros in a soda vending machine and got another water bottle. We stashed our backpack in the locker and hopped into the tiny elevator that took us up the tower.

The views at the top were incredible.

We were on a tiny walkway with the city on one side and a great view of the continuing construction on the other.    

Construction on the building began in 1882, and Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi got involved the next year. By the time he passed away in 1926, only a quarter of the construction was complete. Progress has been intermittent since–no thanks, Spanish Civil War–and reached the halfway point in 2010. Apparently they are shooting for it to be done in 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.IMG_2005

Sagrada selfie!

These towers are huge, but pale in comparison to the rendering of the completed project. The original design calls for eighteen towers (twelve for the apostles, one for the Virgin Mary, four for the Evangelists, and a massive, 560′ central tower for Jesus). Eight are finished. The huge tower will be a meter shorter than Montjuïc hill, home of the Barcelona Olympic stadium and torch and a place we visited the next day.

This is the entrance to the very narrow staircase we had to walk down (the elevator goes only one way unless you have an emergency). Technically the tower tour is not recommended for pregnant women, but I interpreted that as pregnant women in the third trimester, or those who are not physically active.

There were little windows on the way down where we got very interesting view of the city and towers

And here is our tiny staircase. I was a little dizzy by the end and made us sit for a bit

The inside of the building was just as mind-blowing as the outside. While the outside (on the nativity side at least) is elaborate and detailed (see below)…IMG_2037

the inside is clean and spare, much more so than I would have expected.IMG_2008

It is supposed to feel like a forest, and it does. Also, this central area is 150 feet tall!IMG_2013

We walked around craning our necks in awe of the space. (Again, our tickets came with an audio tour, but we eschewed it.)

The stained glass is cool and modern and I loved the colors.IMG_2025

Seriously stunning.IMG_2006

In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the building as a basilica. I just learned from the internet that a cathedral has to be the seat of a bishop and the Sagrada Familia is not. Anyway, 6,500 people were in attendance and 50,000 people watched from outside on video monitors. 

The passion facade definitely has a different style than the nativity side.IMG_2030

It was cool too. We also made it down to the museum, where we saw the (unfinished) architectural model of the building. I’m not confident it is going to be done on time if they can’t get the model done, but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll come back to see the finished product when little Frosty is 10 years old.IMG_2032

We easily spent three hours exploring. This was for sure a highlight of our trip.

After we had exhausted the Sagrada Familia, we took a cab to Parc Guell, another Gaudi masterpiece. This was the one time on our trip when I should have planned ahead. Part of the park requires timed tickets and I erroneously assumed they would be available. When we got there around 2 p.m., the ticketed slot wasn’t until 7 p.m. We decided we would enjoy the free part of the park. I don’t think we missed too much.IMG_2077

The park was very cool. Also, this plant was huge.IMG_2057

We wandered around and around. It was really relaxing.

Plus the park has an amazing view of the city and the waterfront.IMG_2062

A couple of other tourists asked us to take their picture, so we had them take our ours. IMG_2068

After the park, we decided we could easily walk back to our hotel. First, though, we stopped at a nearby restaurant for some tortilla and croquetas. Oh, and we completed our Day of Gaudi with a walk past Casa Milà or the Pedrera (the stone quarry). We didn’t spring for the 20 euro entrance fee, but the outside was really cool.

We took naps back at the hotel, then decided we’d try one of the middle eastern restaurants we kept seeing. I did some research and we landed on Bismillah Kebabish, right off Las Ramblas (a wide shopping avenue that runs down to the waterfront). When I say right off, it was technically just a few blocks but we turned down the street and suddenly everyone was speaking not Spanish and not Catalan and not English and there were a bunch of middle eastern shops. For a few seconds I was anxious, but then we reached the restaurant and everyone inside was German or Italian, so we felt pretty safe after all. The service was not great, but the food was phenomenal. Seriously, I am still dreaming about that naan.

We tried to get churros con chocolate, but the place we wanted to go was closed. Instead, we visited one of the million gelato shops in the area and ate our gelato while wandering Barri Gotic. It was idyllic.

I’m not sure if it was the spicy dinner or the gelato, but Little Frosty was a crazy person that night! Seriously, he was rocketing from one side of my stomach to the other. It was weird, but also so cool. Man, I like that baby already.

Miles walked: 11 miles

holy toledo 

Thank goodness for my friend Dani, who recommended we hit up Toledo for a day. This ended up being one of our favorite parts of this trip.

We took off on an early-ish train out. This was our first–and by no means last–experience with Spain’s high-speed train system, and it was great. Though the ride was only thirty minutes, I definitely fell asleep.

Hola Toledo!IMG_2055Toledo is a really really really old city, inhabited at various times by Moors, Visigoths, Romans, royals, and the military.

We started our Toledo day with a trip to the Alcazar, a  palace turned fortress turned military academy turned museum. As with many things in Spain, it was heavily damaged during the Spanish civil war.

It is, it turns out, a very thorough museum of Spanish military history. We started on the wrong floor, so our journey began in the 19th century, and by the time we finished up with WWII we realized we had killed a lot of time.

We did a very quick survey of the pre-19th century floor, then focused on the cool building and its great views.

Alcazar selfie!IMG_2059

This is the area where you enter, which shows the different additions from the groups who inhabited the Alcazar. It reminded us of the pyramid of Cholula, where you can see where civilization after civilization added on to the structure. Very cool.IMG_2068

We didn’t have breakfast that morning and little Frosty and I were starting to get a little famished, so we walked around in search of comida. IMG_2104

Toledo is just the place for such a walk, though, because every street is beautiful.

The city is set up on a hill, and the streets have no rhyme or reason. There were also lots of cars trying to make it through what seemed like way too narrow passages. Then again, I’m not sure how a sign like this is supposed to give you any navigational information.


We ended up at Embrujo, a restaurant far enough away from the central plaza that we weren’t in a crowd of people, and we could sit out on the patio with a beautiful view. The weather during our time in Spain tended to be nice and warm. We hauled our spring jackets with us everywhere mostly for being indoors and in the shade.

We had a huge pile of croquetas, a plate of crispy fried vegetables, and delicious solomilla. I think they also brought us some jamon and a basket of bread when we sat down. Anyway, the food was awesome.

Then we continued on our way. One of the interesting things about Toledo is that there are a bunch of convents in which nuns make and sell mazapan, an almondy dessert filled with squash. IMG_1959

Naturally, we had to get ourselves some. It was incredible! I wish we had bought boxes and boxes to bring back.


In the afternoon we went to the Toledo Cathedral, one of three high Gothic cathedrals in Spain. Construction started in 1226, which I, as someone who grew up in Utah where no building was constructed before 1847, found amazing.

Jason got some good pictures of it before we went inside.IMG_1958.jpg

Oh, and I snapped one of him with an old-timer door. IMG_2080

We decided not to get the audio tour because the line was kind of long and because we are not really an audio tour family. Instead, I consulted the Rick Steves Spain book like a tourist.

These pictures don’t capture the immensity of the space.IMG_2084

One of the coolest parts (of which we have no photos because the signs said no photos but we later learned it meant no photos with flash) was the sacristy, which is full of artwork by El Greco, Titian, Velasquez, etc. Apparently some of the pieces were on loan to the Prado a few years ago.

The stained glass was also pretty amazing.IMG_2086

We spent a little time outside too in a courtyard with orange trees. IMG_2082

The outside walls were pretty too, but had some big blank spaces.IMG_2083

After the cathedral, we went to another church. This one was built on the site of a demolished mosque. It was cool because you could go underneath the church and see some of the original building. IMG_2088

We walked around some more and sat on a bench for a bit. It was nice.

We went back to the Zocodover plaza and sat for a bit there. Our feet were getting tired after what would turn out to be our longest day of walking on our trip.  

We walked over to the other edge of Toledo and got some more pictures.

By then it was getting dark, so we made our way back to the cathedral for some night shots.IMG_1979.jpg

We walked back to the train station around 8:30 p.m. and picked up some dinner at the cafe there. Our train left for Madrid at 9:30 p.m., and I definitely slept all the way home. I’m so glad we made it out to Toledo.

Miles walked: 12 miles. Jason’s phone also tracks how many flights of stairs you climb in a day and thanks to Toledo’s many hills, we allegedly climbed 67 flights.