It was wonderful to come back to Barcelona after seven years. We really enjoyed the city the last time we were here, but this time we did it even better. We had our good friends from San Francisco, Pam and Josh, visiting us and together we explored cute neighborhoods and fully embraced la hora de vermut.
Cutest hat shop
Pretty fish at La Boqueria market
Ian and I were excited to go back to Sagrada Familia and see the progress since our last visit. The cathedral now has a completion date (2026-2028!) and a lot has changed in the last seven years.
The most magical thing to see was the effect of the light shining through the stained glass on the interior:
A climb up one of the towers was also a great chance to peer out over the city and to see the new fruit sculptures topping some of the shorter spires.
We were extra fortunate to cross paths with one of Ian’s best friends from high school, Adam, and his wife, Alli, and all six of us had an excellent tapas meal together. So much to be thankful for!
Porto was our last destination in Portugal and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our first evening, we stumbled upon a local favorite for caldo verde, pork sandwiches, and white wine. Apparently “carafe” in Porto means “bottle:”
The town is beautiful. The buildings along the River Douro are colorful and provide the most classic view of Porto, but all around the city there are art deco buildings and churches covered in tiles.
Ian found an effective way to hack the steep streets:
A visit to the Serralves Museum and the Kopke port house rounded out the trip.
Another place we stopped in northern Portugal was Braga, a small town known for its churches and for this otherworldly-looking monastery:
After flying back into Lisbon from Madeira, we rented a car and headed north. We really enjoyed seeing some smaller Portuguese cities, including:
Nazaré. Nazaré had the first sandy beach we’ve seen in a really long time, and it also wooed us with this amazing fish stew:
Lisbon was not all just eating delicious things and walking around. Some of it was drinking delicious things and walking around.
Zadar was one of the few places we went in Croatia that seemed to take an ongoing interest in public art installations. They had two really cool things. The first was the “Greeting to the Sun,” an LED installation that stored up solar power during the day and put on a light show at night.
Still waiting for my light cycle
We day tripped from Zadar out to Krka falls; a place with a curious lack of vowels. My photo timestamps tells me this was almost a month ago now, but hey, water under the bridge right?
After a few amazing days in Porto Moniz we drove back across Madeira toward Funchal. Along the way, we took a detour to Pico do Arieiro, one of the highest peaks on the island. The drive turned out to be pretty perilous and a lot longer than expected. By the time we got to the top, we were in danger of missing our rental car return time, so we had about 10 minutes to take some photos and admire the view. It was still worth it!
Since the beginning of this trip, Ian and I have known that at some point we would want to drink madeira in Madeira. But, other than its viticulture, we knew very little about the island (actually an archipelago, but Madeira is also the name of the largest island, a la Hawaii). As it turns out, this place is a tropical paradise.
I’ve never been a huge fan of egg tarts. We’ve had the Portuguese pastry in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Macau, and I’ve always found them to be too much like sweet scrambled eggs. I hoped Lisbon could change my mind about egg tarts, and it did – big time. Manteigaria in Chiado has been cranking out pasteis de nata since…about a year ago. They are doing it right – rich, custardy centers in a super flaky crust, all a tiny bit burnt on top.
You can eat your pastel and have an espresso at a long marble counter, Italian style, while watching new batches of pasteis being made.
There are other famous pastel de nata bakeries in Lisbon, most notably in Belém, but Manteigaria is the one that stole our hearts. We’ll be back.