After our week long medicinal plant retreat near Iquitos, we had a stop in Lima where we spent one night at an Airbnb. Our hosts were a lovely couple, she offers Peruvian cooking classes and he’s a doctor who started a company called Seleno Health making organic maca root powder products that directly support and benefit the maca farmers in Peru. We learned all about Maca from him. Not just the incredible health benefits, but also about the farming practices, and sadly, the exploitation of the maca farmers in Peru. Part of the beauty of travel is getting the opportunity to learn about things from the local perspective, and connecting with people. I believe we meet one another for a reason, and when someone I meet is doing something good for the world, I want to do whatever I can to assist their mission. So I'd like to share their responsibly sourced organic maca with you! For the purest, family farmed maca powder, that also supports a good cause, please visit www.selenohealth.com/maca/
Our first day in Lima we traveled around looking for a replacement camera for the one that was stolen in Cusco. Everything we found was too expensive, way more than American prices, so we decided to take our chances with finding one elsewhere. A film composer I met at a film festival back in Los Angeles, hit me up on Facebook when he saw that I was in Peru. He offered to meet up with us for dinner in Lima. I love this small world! He took us to a great seafood restaurant called Punto Azul where we caught up with each other and reveled in the joy of connecting with friends abroad.
From Peru to España. It was a 26.5 hour journey to get from the South American Pacific city of Lima to the Mediterranean city of Barcelona. Good thing we had just spent 2 months in Spanish speaking countries. I was finally getting the hang of using some helpful phrases and asking questions with confidence. Disculpé, dondé esta el baño?
Initially, Barcelona, and Europe for that matter, wasn’t on our list of destinations. When we were planning our around the world route, we were trying to fly from Peru to South Africa. Flights were crazy expensive, around $2300 per person! So Andre, the master researcher, did some digging and found a combination of flights going from Peru to Barcelona, Barcelona to South Africa for $1200 per person. Given that this was a much more affordable route, and the fact that it included a stop in a city we heard only great things about, we decided to jump on the opportunity, extend our layover, and enjoy the coastal city of Barcelona for a few days.
After arriving at the BCN airport, we took the train into the city. For a small tip, a musical trio serenaded the passengers. It was a lovely welcome to this new venue.
We stayed at Hostal Orleans in the El Born neighborhood. A wonderful area walking distance to a beautiful park, nice shops, restaurants, even fairly close to the marina.
After a long day+ of traveling, it was time to eat some dinner. We had just finished our Ayahuasca dieta, so the first thing we did was find a local Spanish tapas restaurant. We discovered Bastaix on TripAdvisor. It was close by and sounded worth a try. Walking through the little back streets in between centuries-old buildings felt like a dream. The weather was perfecto as we floated down the neighborhood absorbing the vibrant, romantic sparkle of Barcelona. Everything on the menu at Bastaix sounded amazing - one of each please! We settled on a few different small plates and a glass of cava (sparkling wine) each to celebrate our arrival.
After dinner we continued on walking around, eventually ending up at one of the highest rated gelato shops on TripAdvisor, Gelaaati Di Marco. Mmmmmm it was heaven in a cup, or cone.
Barcelona had me in all smiles from the moment we arrived. The architecture, the fashion, the history, the food; the joy of living was everywhere. It was a refreshing feeling that whispered life lessons to me as we relaxed in plaza sipping sangria.
Finding a replacement camera was still on our list of things to accomplish. We found a camera store online and went to see what they had. Unfortunately, just like in Peru, prices of Nikons were considerably greater than in the US. We didn’t have much of a choice though. We’re on this trip filming a travel series, we need a second camera. I was already starting to feel inadequate without a camera in my hands. With the help of my parents, we bit the bullet and purchased a new DSLR, though a slightly older model than the one we had before.
Barcelona is famous for the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí. We found a company called Runner Bean that offers free walking tours through the city, so we signed up for their tour de Gaudí. The next day we met our group in a plaza and were lead around by Raquel, a passionate and knowledgable guide. The tour didn’t include entrance to his buildings, but we still learned a lot and were able to appreciate Gaudí’s iconic work while simultaneously getting to see different areas of the city.
We had heard about this highly rated local bar/tapas place called Can Paixano, a Catalan style tapas cava bar that’s standing room only. I’ll be honest, after a full day of walking around the city, the last thing I felt like doing was eat dinner standing up, but we went to check it out anyway. We squeezed on through the crowd and found a small opening at the bar to saddle up to. The first thing we knew to do was order a bottle of cava, but which one? A woman next to us let me taste her’s but it was a little too sweet for my palate. We decided to order the “dry” one. Then it was time to order some tapas. Everything was in Catalan so we really had no idea what we were getting, however the more cava we drank, the less we cared what showed up in front of us. I ate things I would never eat! Like blood sausage, what?! But…when in Barcelona, right? It was all delicious, certainly not the healthiest, but it was so much fun. We befriended a couple of girls next to us who were visiting from Amsterdam. One of the girls looked a lot like a friend I grew up with. We were already two bottles in and the girls wanted to share another round on them. We couldn’t refuse the offer so we cheers’d and laughed as we toasted to meeting new people from around the world. It was one of the most fun evenings of all time.
Our last day in Barcelona we rented bikes and rode along the coastline up and down the beaches for a few hours. All the beaches were “toptional” (that’s my own made-up term) tops-optional. I’ve never been to a beach like this before so it was quite interesting. Did I join in the joie de vivre? Only Andre knows, but I made sure to take a dip in the Mediterranean before heading off to the land of fire and ice! We completed our beach day with lunch at a local farm-to-table restaurant where we had to dine on some paella. After this lovely sunny beach day, we went back to our hotel to change and pack up our things to catch our next plane to Reykjavik.
I’m saving the blog on Iceland for a separate posting so check back in for that! Once we returned to Barcelona, we only had about 2.5 days. We spent the first day doing a tour of Gaudi’s most celebrated creation, Sagrada Familia. Definitely book your tickets in advance if you can. We also highly recommend the self-guided audio tour. It’s well worth it! The Sagrada Familia will conjure mixed feelings I’m sure, but I was most inspired by the interior. The brilliance and the significance of every little detail is mind blowing. I just stood in awe with my mouth gaped open as I thought about the mind it took to dream something like this up. Gaudi spent 43 years of his life working on Sagrada Familia! His life was cut short quite tragically in a hit and run accident, and the completion was never achieved. Other architects have since stepped in and designed various facades and additions. The church is still expanding as we speak and has a full completion goal date of 2026. All of Barcelona is praying for that.
That same evening, we got to catch the summer finale of Sala Montjuïc. A film festival series plays atop Montjuïc at an old castle with a dark past. The finale was a surprise show and opened with a concert. We packed ourselves a delicious picnic, rode the bus to the top of the mountain, and joined in the local scene. It was so much fun! Get there early to grab some complementary chairs!
The next day was our last day in Spain. We went for a walk in Parc de la Ciutadella. It was a beautiful park with many different attractions like paddle boats, sculptures, fountains, people performing, dancing, making bubbles. It was a great place to send our farewells to Barcelona.
Getting to the airport from our Airbnb proved to be a very complicated and frustrating journey. We had had no problem navigating the subway systems during our time there, however this time that wasn’t the case. We rode 4 or 5 different trains, had to walk what felt like miles trying to find the right platforms, and even ended up asking locals where to go 3 separate times. All the round about made us a late getting to the airport. Once we got to the correct terminal, I was confused as to why there were so many people waiting in line. Literally hundreds of people we waiting to check in, waiting to go through security. It didn’t look good. As we approached our check in counter I felt relieved that no one was in line, but once we got there and told the agent where we were headed, she responded in a sharp and unfriendly tone, “You’re late!” She told us we probably wouldn’t make our flight, and also ignored me when I said some nice things to her. We stood there stunned at how rude she was to us.
We ran to get into the security line which was an absolute nightmare! Agents were telling us to go through lines that were completely senseless. We really were going to miss our flight if we didn’t take matters into our own hands. We pleaded with people asking if we could go ahead of them in order to catch our “now boarding” flight. Everyone was so nice and graciously let us by. We got up to the X-ray belt where TSA seemed to be completely apathetic, and allowed the lines to pile up as they chit-chatted with each other. A woman next to us told us that the airport employees were on a strike. They had been on strike for a couple days and were planning a week of it. For hours at a time, they all just stopped working causing thousands of people to miss their flights. Unbelievable. I understand that they wanted to make a statement, but I bet there were people flying to see a dying relative that didn’t make it on time because TSA decided to walk out. It was a huge deal that put Barcelona in the world news. Followed up a week later by the terrorist attack in Las Ramblas. What a shame. A city that brought us so much joy and filled us with love had these catastrophes. I guess that’s the yin and yang of life. Great good gets balanced by great evil - lightness with darkness. We choose to be the light in the world and we continue to spread love everywhere we go in hopes of lighting up those dark places.
Iceland wasn’t even on our radar back when we were planning this trip, but so many friends kept telling us how amazing Iceland is, so we did some research and kind of became obsessed before even getting there. Since Barcelona was this new added destination, we figured heck with it, let’s go to Iceland! See you there!