Long overdue updates…

The first four months of 2015 have been a whirlwind of work and personal obligations with a jam-packed social calendar. I don’t think we’ve had a weekend “off” to lounge around and enjoy doing nothing since the first weekend in February! With all that’s been happening it’s been a LONG time between posts and we have much to cover.

Starting in early February we welcomed a slew of visitors… one after another. First we welcomed our friend Thomas, visiting from Germany. He made our place his home base while he explored LA and ventured to beach each day to surf. A week into Thomas’ stay Mathieu came to LA to escape the freezing winter in Montreal. We also got to see another Berlin friend, Artjom, who was spending a few months working in LA. Overlapping with the Berlin boys’ visits we got to see Nate for a few nights when he journeyed out west from Chicago.

In the midst of all our visitors we also had the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day this year fell on a Saturday and Dave told me he wanted to take charge of the planning. He surprised me with a fabulous mini-break just a couple miles down the road in Redondo Beach. The day of love began with homemade french toast for breakfast followed by couples massages. After the pampering we drove down to Culver City and spent the afternoon touring the Museum of Jurassic Technology. A really funky and unique spot with exhibits fully immersed in the bizarre. That evening we indulged in some delicious BBQ in Marina del Rey, before retiring to Portofino Hotel for the night. The next day we spent lounging at Manhattan Beach, hanging out by the pool and enjoying some tasty seafood at Captain Kidd’s before another relaxing evening at the Portofino. The next weekend we helped Maddie ring in her 24th birthday with games and Max City at her swanky new apartment.

After a week driving around AZ, Vegas and CA our international friends made it back to LA and we had an extra day with them before they flew out. A few days after saying good bye we celebrated Dave’s 30th Birthday with a seafood dinner and drinks in WEHO. I surprised him with 30 balloons and 30 of my favorite things about him. I also booked a quick weekend getaway at a beachfront hotel down in Oceanside. We spent the weekend rotating between the beach and the rooftop pool before hitting up the Stone Brewery in Escondito for a tour, a tasting and some dinner on the way home.

Mid- March we spent a long weekend in Arizona at Gina’s house catching a few spring training games and cheering on the Dodgers. We drove out on Thursday afternoon and saw games at the Mariner’s stadium, Dodger’s stadium and Giant’s stadium. It was a quick trip, but the weather was great and we had a lot of fun checking out the different complexes and teams.

The day after we returned from AZ it was time for our second rush of visitors- this time the ladies. First we welcomed Jamie (out from Chicago) and hosted her for about a week while she was doing research in the area. The So Cal weather didn’t disappoint and she got to spend some quality time by the pool and lounging in our hammock. A few days after Jamie departed Emily and Lea flew out for a mini-Logger reunion. We did a lot of eating and laughing and even made it out to brunch with another former 2214 roommate, Lauren. The weekend with them flew by, but will get to see them again soon in Wyoming when we celebrate Emily’s nuptials this summer!

The onslaught of visitors departed and all the sudden it was April. I’ve said this before, but April is hell month for admissions professionals. This April was especially overwhelming given the recent turnover of staff in our office. I won’t go into the tedious details, but I’ll say it was pretty stressful and I had a serious countdown to May 1st on my calendar. Luckily, I only had to travel one weekend because I was manning everything on campus so I did get a few days rest in between the crazy weeks. My one weekend away was up in the PNW- so I got to have breakfast with Jessie in Portland and dinner with Jen, Paul and baby Aerin in Seattle. Seeing friends always makes work travel more enjoyable:)

The other weekends in April were spent celebrating Easter in Sierra Madre and attending the LA Times Book Festival. We got up early Easter morning for the traditional Sunrise Service in Wilderness Park then had breakfast in downtown Monrovia. From there we spent the morning wandering through Descanso Gardens and the afternoon playing games and eating ham in the backyard. At the Book Festival we had the opportunity to see Malcolm Gladwell speak and received signed copies of his book, David and Goliath. We also saw an interview with Al Michaels and LA Times sports reporter, Chris Erskine. And since the madness of April has died down we’ve been able to make it to a Dodger’s game, enjoy some time with friends and just hang out together.

We loved welcoming all our visitors even though our quarters are a little cramped and space is soon to be at an even greater premium when we welcome a permanent guest in September of 2015!  In the midst of all that’s been happening this year the biggest and best news yet is a new addition to the Chebuske family due to arrive in September of 2015!

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We have a lot to learn and do before Baby C. arrives, but we couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to meet the new addition♥

Until next time…Daverian+1

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Joyful June

Again it’s another month and we haven’t had a minute to breath and gather our thoughts for a post. It’s been an exciting few weeks since our last update. We took a weekend trip to San Francisco, Adrian celebrated her 29th birthday, we began the process of apartment hunting in LA, Dave got a short-term position at a really cool company in Marina del Rey AND we finally began the process of apartment hunting and signed a lease on our new home last week! So lots to report on:)

Adrian’s birthday was on a Monday and she had a professional development conference beginning that day so we flew up to Oakland early the Saturday before and spent that night with our friend Nick. He took us to an El Salvadorian place for lunch and then we took the BART to the Embarcadero where we walked around a bit before hitting up a bar and drinking a few brews before the Giants game. We had great seats in the upper right field corner that offered views of the city skyline as well as McCovey Cove. The Giants came back in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Mets making it an exciting game.

The next day we got up and took Nick’s dog Willy for a little hike before picking up some picnic supplies and making our way to the harbor for a 12:30 boat trip over to Alcatraz. We lucked out with the weather and it was a beautifully sunny, clear, warm day in the Bay. The boat ride over to Alcatraz Island is only about 10 minutes, but provides nice views of the bay. Once you arrive and disembark you’re herded up to the main prison block, where you pick up the audio tour and begin to explore the island. The audio guide is voiced by former prisoners and guards and eerie noises like the clanking of keys and muddled voices can be heard in the background. The tour takes about 2 hours to complete and then visitors have the option of staying on the island for additional touring or to eat lunch. The seagulls are particularly aggressive and we noticed that many were nesting- which probably didn’t help the aggressive behavior. We caught the boat back to the city and downed some beers and hung out in a nearby park until it was time to meet Duven and Michael for dinner at Pier 23. It was great to catch up with them and the seafood was delicious. That night we stayed at Le Meridian downtown- which we got a great deal on through Hot Wire. It’s the second time we’ve booked through the site and both experiences have been great…we definitely recommend it for any last minute hotel needs.

Monday morning brought Adrian’s birthday and three days of admissions professionals workshops and events. She learned a lot at the conference and enjoyed getting to see some old colleagues from Northeastern. When she got back on Wednesday we celebrated her birthday with dinner in Old Town and Godiva chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

Just a few days after her return we celebrated father’s day weekend with breakfast at the Santa Anita Racetrack, a Dodger game and a Sunday BBQ. Then just a few days after that Adrian’s parents took off for Wisconsin and 10 days of family fun. While they were gone we enjoyed having the house to ourselves and spent most of our free time lounging in the backyard and watching the World Cup. If you haven’t guessed we’re pulling big time for Deutschland with Old Glory out of the picture. Being in Berlin this weekend would be INSANE!!  So jealous of all our friends still in Germany. I also hosted another Bachelorette night and we enjoyed a rousing game night with Alexis and Peter, complete with donuts, ice cream, beer and pizza.

We also began that stressful process of apartment hunting in Los Angeles. The way the market works in this city is that you see a place on craigslist or padmapper, contact the location manager immediately, visit the place in the evening, apply that night and sign the official lease the next day. It’s fast and it’s stressful and for people like us (who don’t know the lay of the land all that well) it’s impossible to know if you’ve found a place you’re going to love or loathe. Also for people like us it was impossible to find a place that aligned with our “wants” lists because we were looking for a place easily found in a city like Berlin or Boston, not fully understanding that LA is a completely different type of city. So we talked about what it is that we love about Southern California and the big standout was the most obviously positive for anyone who has ever spent a winter out east- the weather. We needed to find a home that afforded us the opportunity to capitalize on the weather. And luckily we found just that. The process was the same. Last Monday I saw the place online. The owner responded to my message mid-afternoon. We stopped by to see the place after work and lo and behold the next evening the papers were signed and the keys in our hands! We started moving some of our gear this past weekend and will be hauling over the big stuff this upcoming Saturday. We’re so grateful to my family for letting us stay with them these past 7 months or so and will miss the proximity to Sierra Madre’s charming downtown, but are so excited to be back in our own place and to get to know our new neighborhood, Mount Washington in Northeast L.A.

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New Mt. Washington Home

View from our new home

And though we began (and titled) this post back at the end of June it’s already the second week of July and has yet to be published. So I’ll include a couple quick updates about the 4th. We had a great, long weekend that was kicked off by drinks in the Sierra Madre Biergarten Thursday night, followed by the lovely Sierra Madre 4th of July parade Friday morning. That afternoon we cooked up a BBQ feast and then all fell into food comas and took long afternoon naps. We thought about venturing out to see fireworks, but instead opted for seconds and some hammock lounging in the backyard…where we had a brush with some wildlife when we caught a raccoon peering down at us from a tree! I swear it peed on me, but Dave claims it just shook water off the high branches/leaves. We moved the hammock and I grabbed a bat in case it was rabid and attacked, but it just mosied around the tree before climbing down and out of the yard about 20 minutes later. The next day we participated in some domestic adventures making our way to Costco and Walmart for new home supplies and then attended a “Kitten Warming Party” at Kathleen and Brian’s home that night. We met their sweet kitty Moze and had a great time hanging out. Sunday we hung out, read and relaxed all day. We agreed every weekend should be a three day event. One day for social activities, one day for productive ones and one day to recoup and refresh. Let’s try to catch it on, okay?!

Up next we have the official move into our new place, Alexis and Peter’s July 19th wedding and then I’m finally getting my wisdom teeth removed. Should be a mix of good times and swollen times. Hopefully all is well with our friends all over the globe. We miss you all immensely and hope fabulous summers are being had all around!

xoxo- Daverian

I love June!

June was off to a rainy start in Berlin. The last two weeks of May were also a little rainy, but with intermittent days of sun. Luckily the weather is turning and we’ve had so much going on the past month there has been little time to be annoyed with the weather!

For those of you who don’t know we’ve decided to officially move back to the US at the end of August. We’ll be spending about two weeks in Maine and then heading out to California to prepare for the big wedding! We’re not sure where we’ll end up post-honeymoon, but are going to look for job opportunities in a couple of our favorite cities, probably staying with my parents for a month or two while we figure out our next move. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the end of our international adventures though, we’d both love to live abroad again in the future and we’re going to miss Berlin and all our wonderful friends here immensely!

Besides buying plane tickets home, figuring out some visa details, planning our departure and full-time work (for me at school and Dave on his thesis) we’ve been able to have a lot of fun since our return from Greece. We’ve taken advantage of sunny days by visiting Berlin’s many parks and outdoor cafes. I signed up for a Japanese cooking course (in German) with my friend Saskia and had a great time cooking and eating Japanese food the last fewTuesdays. Take a look at my homemade sushi plate presentation:)

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I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time with my work-besties. Jon, Irene and I even had a “sleep over” the other week. Our sleep over included wine, martinis, dancing in our pjs and watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert. A few weekend ago they also persuaded me to finally visit a club in Berlin (something the city is known for). And though dancing past sunrise is not usually my cup of tea, I have to admit I had so much fun! Dave and I have also hit up a couple different bars, kept up our promise to try new restaurants and take advantage of all that the amazing city of Berlin has to offer.

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This past weekend for my 28th birthday Dave surprised me with a weekend trip to Munich. We’d both visited the city when we’d studied abroad, but had solely seen the inside of the fair grounds at Oktoberfest. Turns out there is more to Munich than that! Though the beer and giant pretzels still rank pretty high on the list of “things we love about Munich”.

We left early Saturday morning and as soon as we got there we headed to the Augustiner Keller. Maß beers were the perfect welcome to the city and we even got to enjoy some traditional German music. After our time at Augustiner we headed to the English Gardens and enjoyed a great evening exploring everything. We even rented a row boat to see the gardens from a different perspective and then enjoyed dinner at another beer garden inside the English garden.

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Sunday morning brought my birthday and luckily another sunny day! We started the day with some ice coffees (my faves) and then a guided tour of the city (I love history!). From what we saw Munich is a much more “traditional” German city than Berlin. When the city was destroyed (about 80%) in WWII they took pains to reconstruct everything exactly as it had stood prior to the bombings. Everywhere we went we saw locals and tourists wearing lederhosen and dirndl. Munich’s population is about 1.3 million, but it has a little bit of the small city feel. We learned a lot about the city and saw a good chunk of the Old Town.

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After our tour we visited (what else) a biergarten for lunch and to rest our feet. We had a delicious lunch of Weißwurst, pretzels and beer- so German! Unfortunately it started to drizzle a little bit towards the end of our meal. We decided to head back to hotel for a nap and so I could skype with my family. After our rest we headed back out to see the old town at night and to find a spot for dinner. We found a bierhall with a good looking menu and had another delicious German meal (with some complimentary shots!) to celebrate my 28 years. It was a great birthday and I’m so grateful to Dave for planning everything!

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Our last morning in Munich started with a big, traditional German breakfast…we kind of have a theme going here: lots of traditional German beer and food. There was a “Munich Breakfast” on the menu that included a 1/2 liter of beer, but we both opted for coffee instead. We then walked up to the top of St. Peter’s to view Munich’s famous Glockenspiel from above. The rest of the day was spent souvenir shopping, a little more touristing and some last minute beer drinking. Towards the end of the day we ran into the weirdest thing- 2 huge tributes to Michael Jackson and his monkey Bubbles. The pictures don’t quite capture the absurdness of the memorial, but we both thought it a bit creepy. Ahh….people of the world you make us laugh. On the way home we hit some major traffic due to all the flooding in Germany because of the rains and didn’t make it home until almost 3am, but it was worth it!

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The next morning came a little too soon for my liking, but I had an awesome surprise from all my wonderful friends at work. They showered me with flowers, gifts and a delicious homemade cheese cake and made me feel so special! I am still enjoying the cheesecake Sandra made:) Such a wonderful birthday treat.

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IMG_1288 IMG_1289 IMG_1291The first half of June has been action-packed and full of fun. Plus the fact that it doesn’t get dark until almost 10 makes it easy to be motivated and get out and do stuff after work! We can’t believe how fast time is flying, but we’re working hard to enjoy every minute left we have in Berlin and can’t wait to update everyone again soon!

Skiing in Austria and (Hopefully) Saying Goodbye to Winter

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Germany as Adrian and I have been doing a lot to prepare for our trip back to the USA this fall and of course for our wedding on October 12. It’s amazing how much work gets put into these events! But we are very lucky to have lots of help from people back home and it looks like the whole thing is starting to take shape. We are already getting excited to see everyone and to finally get married!

Meanwhile we’ve fit in some time to have some fun as well, especially me! I just got back from my second annual trip to the Zillertal Valley in Austria for a week of skiing with my friends from school. We had a great time and the trip was just as successful as last year. After a brief stopover in Prague for one night to grab some supplies and an extra car to transport all six of us and our gear we drove 7 hours down to Austria to the same exact cabin we stayed in last year. It’s always nice to return to a vacation spot that you’ve already been to because there are no surprises: No getting lost on the way, no nervousness about dealing with the ownership, no ‘extra charge’ you aren’t expecting. We were able to start relaxing and plan our ski excursions right away.

The cabin we stay at is several miles from the ski area up a long, winding, snowy road which is inconvenient in some ways, but well worth it. You’ll see why by looking at a few pictures of the place:

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As you can see, it’s a cozy place that’s perfect for relaxation and it has great mountain views right outside the door. We love it!

The Zillertal Valley is a great place to go skiing because there are actually 5 different areas you can drive to in the valley to ski at and one lift ticket works for all of them. It’s not exactly cheap (200€ for 6 days) but there is a ton of variety available which keeps the place interesting for a week of skiing. In fact last year we didn’t even go to Hoch Zillertal which turned out to be our favorite ski area this year.

The best thing about skiing in the Alps I think is the amazing views you get just from riding up the lift. It’s quite an amazing back drop to have whether you are eating lunch or skiing down the mountain. Here are a few pics of some of the great views you get:

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One of the worst things about skiing in the alps is the crowds: many of the trails are so crowded here that it can be difficult to turn and steer around all of the people. Luckily, most of the skiers aren’t ‘experts’, so to speak. As long as you don’t mind skiing some of the more difficult terrain, you can avoid them. Many people come to this area just because of it’s reputation as a party town, especially the village of Mayrhofen. Austria in general is famous for its Apres Ski and I think many of the the people clogging up the trails are more interested in their next Weisbier or Jagermeister than the are their next run down the mountain. Which is fine by me: whatever keeps them off of the powder snow!

We enjoyed a little of the Apres Ski our selves (of course)… it’s a little cheesy but as long as you forget your inhibitions for a moment and try to just have a good time it can be fun. One of my favorite things about Austria is the attitude of the people there. Everyone is really just there to relax and have a good time. All of the smiles you see on peoples faces are pretty genuine and ours were no different.

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While I was in Austria Adrian had a good week of work and was able to go out with some of her friends a few times. Jess and Steph also stopped back for a night before heading stateside.

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Once I returned to Berlin we celebrated our 1 year engagement anniversary by walking back through the Tiergarten and grabbing a beer at our favorite biergarten. We were the only people brave (or dumb) enough to sit outside in the weather, but we had fun “reliving” our engagement.  Two days later it was my birthday on the 5th of March. I turned 28 and after a night out to celebrate with some friends on the 4th, Adrian took me out for a fancy and delicious dinner at a  French restaurant. We don’t eat expensive meals very often, so when we do it’s a real treat. The restaurant was called Heising and it was run by a very nice and accommodating old couple. It was a little more fancy in the interior than we are used to, but the food was absolutely delicious! I especially enjoyed the oysters and Scallops (being a native Mainer, I have always had a thing for shellfish)  and they surprised us with a complimentary brandy at the end of our meal.

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Adrian also surprised me with a trip to Paris as a present for my Birthday! She knows I am a bit of a Francophile and have a been wanting to go France for some time and what more perfect time to go then Paris in the spring? We are renting a apartment we found on Airbnb which is quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to find rooms to stay. We also found a great place in Budapest with them and are looking forward to seeing how this Paris room works out. Any suggestions for what to do in Paris?

For the next few weeks until our Paris trip, I expect to keep fairly busy working on my Master’s Thesis. My proposal is due in early April so I am looking forwarding to handing that in and getting it approved so I can get started on the real thing. It’s amazing how time flies; I feel like I just started school, but now it’s almost over. And hopefully the snow stops soon so we can start enjoying all the great things to do in Berlin come nicer weather!

Barcelona Birthday

Last Wednesday Dave and I finally got a couch for our apartment! Even though we had to move the thing down four flights of stairs and then up another flight to our apartment it’s totally worth it–so nice to be able to finally sit back and relax in our place.  As we were enjoying our first “sitting” Dave got up and surprised me with an early birthday present: two tickets to Barcelona!  We were leaving following day at 3:00 and would be spending four glorious days in a much anticipated travel destination of mine: Spain! He had even purchased a bottle of Spanish wine to start the celebration early…such a thoughtful guy:)

Even though we flew into Barcelona we were actually only going to be spending one day in the city- the other three we spent in a beach town a little south of the city called Castelldefels. When we arrived on Thursday night we were starving, so we dropped our things at the hotel and headed out for dinner.  As we were walking we noticed most restaurants were closed, which we thought a little weird for 7:00 at night.  I knew the Spanish typically dine late, but had no idea that restaurants and kitchens don’t often even open until 8:00 or 9:00 at night?!  Luckily there were a few bars open and we found a place that served food all day. We split nachos and a cheeseburger- not quite the Spanish cuisine we might have imagined we’d find, but delicious none the less.  After dinner we grabbed a bottle of wine and some dessert and headed out to the beach. We spent a couple hours dipping our toes in the Mediterranean, sipping some Spanish wine and watching the sunset- perfect start to a vacation.

The next day we got up early and walked the quick three block walk to the beach.  The day was perfect and we spent all morning lying in the sand and playing in the surf. Come lunchtime we headed into the city to pick up some Spanish meats, cheeses and a loaf of bread. We ate by the pool and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and pool lounging before heading upstairs for a little siesta.

After our siesta we decided to head back to the beach, but this time to one of the many beach bars posted up every few hundred meters along the shore. After drinks we headed into the town for some tapas and to catch some of the Euro Cup action. For those of you who don’t follow soccer (“football”) the Euro Cup is currently underway and people are MAD for it. The competition is fierce between certain nations and everywhere you look people are tuning in for the big match-ups…a fun time to be in Europe as a sports fan. We sampled some Spanish tortilla and Berberechos (cockles) as we watched the Czechs unfortunate loss to the Russians. After the game we stopped for some gelato before making our way back to the hotel.

We woke up Saturday to another bright and sunny day and my birthday!!  We ate a delicious breakfast at the hotel and headed back out to the beach. Since our (well mostly my) pasty white skin hadn’t seen a good amount of sun in quite awhile we were both suffering from sunburns from the previous day. We decided for a birthday splurge and rented chairs and an umbrella right at the water’s edge. It turned out to be a fabulous buy and we hung out on the beach from 9:30-about 3:30.

Following our beach excursion we headed back to the hotel for a bit more pool time and some downtime.  After resting up we decided that we’d had such a good time at the beach bar the previous night we ought to go back. This time we had the good fortune to catch some live music. The band was made up of 3 Spanish musicians and the lead singer was an older ex-pat from Florida. They played old school rock, including some Elvis and all in all were pretty talented. For dinner later that night we found a spot at a place called Can Moyas.  Even though we tried to be “Spanish” about the time of our meal, when we showed up a little after 9:00 there were only about 5 other tables occupied…oh well.  We ordered a pitcher of sangria to start and then another round of the yummy Berberechos.  Then we split an order of palella and a steak- both absolutely delicious. Since it was my birthday our waiter brought over extra shots and Dave bought me a rose from one of the vendors walking through the area. At the hotel after dinner we popped some champagne and shared a big piece of chocolate cake.  I really couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing (or delicious!) start to my 27th year. Thanks baby for planning everything!!

The next morning we forced ourselves out of bed early so that we could make sure to see as much of Barcelona as we could in a day…and we saw A LOT (I have a couple ugly blisters to prove it!). We quickly dropped our bags off at the hostel and hustled downtown to catch the start of a walking tour around the Old Town of the city. Our tour guide, Gorka, was awesome and showed knew a ton about the ancient and medieval history of Barcelona. He walked us through a big portion of the gothic quarter stopping at number of different stops along the way. We learned about a few interesting Catalonian traditions and even got to see one: the dancing egg!  Every year during Corpus Christi a number of sites along the city display “dancing eggs”- these eggs are supported by water fountains and they look as though they are dancing atop the water (see picture below if you don’t believe me).  Another tradition we learned about takes place during Christmas. It’s common for every Catalonian home to have a statue of the “Caganer“, which you’ll see in the photo below, is a man taking a dump. It’s placed as part of the traditional nativity scene. There are many thoughts behind why he’s part of the Christmas tradition, but our guide believed the man to symbolize the circle of life and putting back into the earth what you take out. Whatever the reason, it’s a fun tradition but probably not one I’ll be implementing in our home in the future. The last part of our tour lead us to Plaça del Rei. Being a bit of a history buff this was one of my favorite stops because of it’s connections to King Ferdinand, Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Inquisition. Even though it’s long been proven false the steps in the square were rumored to be the place Columbus met King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella after his return from the Americas…pretty cool!

Following our tour we stopped for a quick bite before heading over to Parc de la Ciutadella.  Before finding out that we were going to Barcelona last week I really didn’t know much about the city. I’m a little embarrassed to say that my only knowledge of the city came from an episode of the Bachelorette a few years ago when Jillian had a date there.  The big thing I remember from her date is that she met the guy by this gorgeous fountain…so naturally I had to find this fountain and see it too! The fountain is not actually known as “the fountain from Jillian’s season of the Bachelorette”, but the Cascada. It’s absolutely stunning and I took a million photos as we wandering around it.

We continued our stroll through the park checking out a small lake with row boats, a number statues and small plazas and getting in a little people watching. It was Sunday and the park was crowded with groups having picnics and parties. The whole area was beautiful.

From the park we decided to head back into the Gothic Quarter in an attempt to get into the Picasso Museum (which was free after 3:00pm).  Unfortunately the line just to get in the museum was probably 300 people deep. We opted to skip the wait in an attempt to see some more of the city, so we hopped on the metro and headed up to the Antoni Gaudi designed cathedral, the Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is a beautiful church in the center of the city. Construction on the building began in 1882 and amazingly enough continues to this day. Some sources put the expected date of completion to be 2025/2026, but who knows?!  Again, we opted not to go inside due to time constraints, but we walked the entire length of the church’s exterior and were so impressed with everything about it.

Next we made our made our way over to Casa Batlló and La Pedrera to check out some more of the famous Gaudi architecture of the city. Gaudi is Catalan’s most famous architect and considered the “figurehead of Catalan Modernism”.  His style is unique and immediately recognizable, plus it’s everywhere in the city. 

We hadn’t quite had our Gaudi fix so we hopped back on the metro and headed up to our final “big stop” of the day: Park Guell.  The park is located a little farther north in the city and isn’t the most accessible. From the map it looked a good 10-15 minute walk, but the map didn’t show the fact that it’s basically located atop a giant hill.  Fortunately the path was well marked and there were even some escalators to help with the climb, but we definitely got a workout in as we made our way to the top. It was all worth it though and the park turned out to be my favorite site of the day. There were long winding trails leading visitors around to the many important sites within the park- many created by Gaudi himself. We spent a couple hours trying to catch everything.  We also visited the park during the Spain v. Italy match of the Euro Cup and could hear cheering and horns throughout the surrounding area the whole time…it was great!

As we descended back into the thick of the city the sun started to go down. We found a nice outdoor table near the University and grubbed on some sandwiches and a couple tapas. After dinner we tried to experience a little bit of the Barcelona nightlife by headed to a bar Maddie recommended called Chupitos that opened at 10:30, however when we arrived around 10:45 they still looked to be setting up and one of the staff told us they weren’t opening for another 20 minutes. At this point we’d been walking around for 12+ hours and it was raining…needless to say we decided to be old foggies and started back towards the hostel, which actually turned out to be a smart choice given that the metro system shuts down at midnight on weeknights. We were wondering how a city that starts their nights so late could close transport so early, but we got our answer the next morning when we saw huge groups of people piling out of clubs at 8:30/9:00am!

Our flight left pretty early on Monday so the only thing left to do was find me some churros con chocolate (something my friend Becky has been telling me about for more than 6 years now)! It was a little harder to find than anticipated, but we eventually spotted a place, chowed them down and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  It was a perfect birthday trip and I’m already planning our return trip to Spain:)