Ashley + Dan’s European Vacation: Part I – Barcelona

Over the past few weeks, I have received several requests from travel-intrigued peeps to post about my recent vacation to Europe.  Yes, yes, I know it has nothing to do with Sweet + Natural baking, but I love talking about it as much as possible to anyone who will listen never want to let my readers down, so I had to do it!  Among historical sites and charming culture, I assure you there will be pretty food to drool over.  And…drumroll please…Dan’s pictorial debut on the blog!  Major excitement, right?

So today I present to you the first in a three part series entitled Ashley + Dan’s European Vacation.  This time we take on BARCELONA!

It’s always fun for me to visit a big European metropolis like Barcelona because I am totally captivated by the juxtaposition of ancient and new.  Sure, New York’s got its cobblestone streets and old brick buildings, but we’re talking decades old vs. centuries old!  Europe just oozes history.  I love it.

Case in point, check out the facades you pass while on a typical stroll around the streets of Barcelona.




And check out the streets themselves.


Cool, huh?  Dan may or may not have disowned me while I was awkwardly crouching down taking that pic.  That was a main thoroughfare with loads of foot traffic, not a side alley.  I do what I want!

Now I was an art history major in college, so obviously made a point to soak up every little bit of Barcelona art that I could.  I was particularly enamored by all of the very distinct Gaudí architecture – it’s everywhere and it’s awesome.



One of my absolute favorite Gaudí sites was Park Güell.  It’s a big garden complex designed by the artist himself with lots of cool tile sculptures throughout.  Unfortunately,  it was crazy HOT the day we visited and you have to climb a giant hill to get to the park.  So there was a little cranky action going on once we arrived.  Luckily, that was cured with a picnic lunch and Dan everyone was happy again!  So we took some fun pictures.








Gaudí’s Park Güell tile work is the ultimate representation of Barcelona in my mind.  Love it.

Another fav was the Museu Picasso.  The museum is in old townhouses down a narrow street and displays works by Picasso alongside biographical notes in chronological order of his life.


Super duper cool.  Like way cool.  But no pics allowed inside, so you’ll have to take my word for it or go there yourself!

Oh, and I saw a Cardinals fan in line!  Go STL!


That black blob on the left is an unidentified part of Dan’s body.  I was stealthily pretending to take a picture of him but, in reality, capturing the red shirted man.  Hehehe.

And last, but not least, for our aesthetic enjoyment, the Barcelona Head by Roy Lichtenstein!  Just chillin’ near the beach.  You know.



I am a lucky girl to have a boyfriend who loves good food as much as I do.  It is definitely a priority of ours to seek it out while traveling.  So it is quite obvious that one of the most exciting things we did in Barcelona was visit La Boqueria.

Since when did Superman wear a fanny pack?!  I never got that memo.

If you love food, do not leave Barcelona without stopping by this glorious market!  Fruit, veggies, cheese, bread, etc. as far as the eye can see!






Look at these massive Medjool dates!



They tasted like heaven.  I am a changed woman.

We had such fun strolling up and down the aisles and picking out a selection of items for our picnic lunch – indeed, the very picnic lunch that worked miracles on that hot, hot day mentioned above.  To prove that miracle did occur, here is Dan – pictured for the first time ever on Sweet + Natural! – happily indulging in my latest brilliant food combination.


Freshly baked whole wheat sesame seed baguette + freakishy ginormous Medjool date + goat cheese.  Perfection?  Why yes, yes it is.

Ok, here’s a prettier picture of him.  Because he deserves a better entrance than that.


And one of us together for good measure!


We took a lot of reflection portraits on our trip.  Most were just as blurry and off center as this one.  What’s a girl to do with no tripod or trust in foreign strangers to hold her beloved DSLR?

Back to the food.  Since we were just speaking of goat cheese, I feel it necessary to point out that this food item was consumed nearly every day of the trip.  I adore it.  Here’s an especially appetizing plate we feasted upon.


Goat cheese balls on teeny spoons with balsamic pears!  YUM!

There was also mucho wine on the daily.


I’m usually a red girl, but a cool and crisp glass of white on a warm Barcelona night is not to be missed.  Taken on the rooftop bar of our hotel.  Highly recommended!

And I could never forget this really sweet bottle of water.


Designed by Christian Lacroix!  I really wanted to take it home.

Of course, the chocoholic in me took only one day in Barcelona to discover that the city contained a Chocolate Museum.  I am totally serious.  I learned a lot about the history of chocolate production and the meanings it imbued on worldwide culture…


…and thoroughly appreciated an exquisite chocolate replication of Homer Simpson.



B-t-dubs, they give you a chocolate bar with admission.  Educational and delicious!

Lastly, it was in Barcelona that Dan and I declared our Vacation Mission: to photograph as many European dogs as possible.

Let me explain.

Dan and I LOVE dogs.  We love the ones we grew up with.  We share an obsession with Daily Puppy.  And we also have a habit of pointing out dogs to each other whenever we see them on the street.  Ooh – look at that Bernese Mountain Dog! So of course this habit followed us to Europe.  Why not document it?  Thus, here for your viewing pleasure is a taste of The Dogs of Barcelona.




Notice the repeat sneaky picture action in the last one?  Yep, that’s Dan’s White Sox hat.


And my personal favorite…


What better place to take a cat nap with your pup than on La Rambla, one of the busiest streets in Barcelona!

Seriously though, we took a TON of dog pictures.  When I arrived back in the US, I had immediate reactions of reaching for my no-longer-over-the-shoulder camera every time I spotted a pup.  It lasted for days.

So that’s Barcelona in a nutshell!  We saw some other things too – Barcelona Cathedral, Sagrada Família, Columbus Monument, Roman walls, the beach – but this stuff was the best in my opinion.  Hope it was as good for you as it was for me.  Stay tuned for Nice and Florence!


19 Responses to “Ashley + Dan’s European Vacation: Part I – Barcelona”

  1. 1 candice November 11, 2009 at 1:11 am

    O_O The colors are so bright and beautiful! And look at the size of that date! Paired with a sesame seed baguette and goat cheese? You. Are. A. Genius. 🙂

  2. 2 Marianne November 11, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Barcelona is on my “to see” list, simply for all the amazing Gaudi work, but now I know I have to go there one day. Hopefully sooner rather than later 🙂

  3. 3 Lauren November 11, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I love everything about this post. Gorgeous European architecture! Chocolate! Wine! Huge dates! Goat cheese! Dogs! And of course, the beautiful couple :). I’m looking forward to reading your next installment of European memories.

  4. 4 leslie November 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

    i’m excited that you’re posting about this because i adore travel, and i always love hearing about other people’s impressions. barcelona is one of my favorite cities and hands down, i think it’s one of the most fascinating architecturally. it looks like you really soaked it all in while you were there!

    also, i’m dying over the massive medjools and goat cheese – heavenly!

  5. 6 prettyladycmu November 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Thanks so much for posting about travel! Looks like you had a wonderful time and I LOVE all the photos of the intricate tile work.

  6. 7 The Sister November 11, 2009 at 9:44 am

    why are you and dan so adorable? i’ve already seen these pictures, but i’m loving them the second (or third) time around.

    also, good job showing restraint on not putting up more dog pictures.

  7. 8 Emily November 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    LOVED seeing your European adventure photos. I’d absolutely love to go to Europe someday! It’s so fantastic that Dan loves good food as much as you do, too. You two are adorable together. 🙂

  8. 9 burpexcuzme November 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I am SO green with envy right now, I could be cast for the broadway show Wicked! Oh my GOSH!!!! Barcelona is a beautiful, fascinating place!
    Look at all the fresh food, the chocolate museum, and even the DOGS look interesting!!! >.<

  9. 10 Jen (Running With Cake) November 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    My hubby and I went to Barcelona a few years ago and absolutely fell in LOVE with it! Seeing your photos made me long for the mercado (which we stumbled on accidentally – in the rain no less!) I think my favorite part of the trip was hearing my husband try to speak Spanish. Your Gaudi photos turned out amazing.

  10. 11 Shannon November 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    looks like an amazing vacation!! i have yet to get to spain, hopefully someday!

  11. 12 Dani November 12, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Your pictures are gorgeous!! The photos of the architecture in the Park Guell are great – can’t wait to see Nice and Florence 🙂

  12. 13 Kati November 12, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Fun trip!!! And great pictures. Also as a side note, I’ve been eating your peanut butter oat bars religiously since I made a pan on Sunday 🙂 So good!

  13. 14 Hangry Pants November 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your vacation! You look stunning! I love the architecture, international dogs and chocolate museum! And hello there Dan! Nice to meet you.

  14. 15 elise November 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    oh my gosh, i cant tell you how much i loved this post. i consider BCN my second home, so it was AWESOME to read all about your travels. i cant wait for the next post, although i cant imagine it topping this one!! i lived a block away from sagrada familia. so amazing. and those dates!!!!

  15. 16 elise November 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    oh and ps, i think your guys’ dog pics sounds like the cutest idea ever

  16. 17 eaglefike November 17, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Great photos 🙂 Thank you for sharing

  17. 18 Laurel Alanna McBrine November 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Wonderful photographs – I thought you might like to see my pictures of Paris, so I left the blog address for that above, rather than my healthy living blog (thanks for stopping by there to comment on my chocolate coconut avocado mousse).

    I especially love your images of the food – those eggs and aren’t those perfect fruit cups just so picturesque? Why don’t fruit cups look like that in North American supermarkets?

    Those mosaics are pretty wonderful too!

  18. 19 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 26, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    ahhh i recognize so many of theplaces you went. Brings back such great memories of our honeymoon. I only wish we had longer in Barcelona!!!
    Thanks for sharing your pics…love them all.

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