If you're in Barcelona, believe TripAdvisor and GO TO TASTLLER. It was the best meal we had all trip. Edible caramel toothpaste and chocolate plantpots for dessert? 7-course taster menu with basically unlimited wine? 55 euros? WOW. Sure beat the street food we had to eat once we became poor (though for everything there is a season - this was the season of YAY we're on honeymoon, let's have a blowout!)
You also have to go to the Boqueria Market on the Ramblas for fresh fruit juice ice lollies, jamon iberico and Manchego for breakfast. Then trot your way down to the beach for a swim because it's too warm to do otherwise.
Just be careful when you go snorkelling that you don't look like this fruitloop. We both love Barcelona - it has the most chilled-out vibe ever which was welcome after sleeping in a washing machine (the overnight Trenhotel train from Lisbon to Madrid) and then being stuck in Madrid for six hours because their train-booking system doesn't work. The train to Barcelona was actually quite pleasant, with a three-course meal, real cutlery and cava with dinner, but it was nice to shake the dust of Madrid nonetheless.
We stayed in an apartment directly across the street from one I stayed in when I first visited Barcelona, aged 18, with my then-boyfriend. How times change! Although it was tiny, I'd have happily lived there just to be in the midst of all the bustle. At a Catalan street party someone threw confetti over us, which was a nice treat considering it wasn't allowed at our wedding venue.
From there we flew to Venice...
And well, Venice, you have not changed. Venice was super, SUPER-busy. It might be worse during the Biennale but there were just busloads and boatloads of tourists everywhere, with nary a local to be found. It was here that my hatred of selfie sticks (seriously the cancer of Europe this summer) began. EVERY picture you tried to take, RUINED by a horizon full of selfie sticks.
I much prefer Venice in the evening-time. Once all the cruise ship passengers go back to their boats, and it cools down a little, and you wander the backstreets, that is when you see the really beautiful Venice of your imagination.
The design of the Templeton Carpet Factory (which houses West Brewery, where we got married) is based on the Doge's Palace so we braved the crowds to see it once more and compare notes. We also went to see a totally creepy exhibition in an old palazzo called Never Say Goodbye (watch from 2.10 onwards....).
There is something very artistic about the way Venetians hang out their washing, whether it is intentional or not.
We stayed in Castello, which I liked because it seemed to actually have a native population and felt a little bit more authentic. I was really excited about going back to La Zucca for dinner (most delicious vegetarian restaurant ever), but sadly it was closed because it was a Sunday. We did things the Venetian way instead and had cicheti and prosecco for an aperitivo, then had some unmemorable pizza later on.
When we were searching for dinner we got deliberately lost in the backstreets, this being before we both lost our phones and could Google-map our way home if we had to. There we saw more washing lines, doorbells with Italian surnames, a communist fraternity, the Arsenal, and some dubious graffiti. We ended up back at the Piazza San Marco just in time for sunset, where, with significantly fewer tourists, I got a few pictures of Venice as I wish it always looked.
The next morning as we left for Florence we saw these sailors heading to work. I love places where you can feel like you've stepped back into a simpler time, where people were bakers and sailors and cobblers and singers instead of Head of Product Development and IT Specialist. Sigh.