Home in Barcelona

It's hard to believe that we've been in Barcelona for almost three weeks already! We spent the first week settling into the new place, a comfortable apartment across the street from the beach in Diagonal Mar.

We are so lucky to have so many great friends visiting Barcelona during our trip. Together we saw some stunning Gaudi masterpieces, ate traditional paellas and tapas, enjoyed home cooked meals, made some damn tasty crepes, watched World Cup games and that really long Wimbledon match, bought gummy candies and fruit at the boqueria, had awesome American brunch, and laughed, a lot.

A lot of people ask us if we could see ourselves living in any of the cities we've been to so far. What we've realized being on the road for the last few months is that we could live almost anywhere as long as our families and friends are around us. Being in a country where we could barely speak the language, our friends actually made us feel at home in Barcelona.

And to top things off, the annual Hong family reunion is starting this Sunday and will be taking place in Barcelona and Madrid!!! 8 Adults + 7 grandkids = fun/crazy times ahead :)

p.s. A big thanks to Kristin, Mike, Kimberle, Brian, Philip and Ilona for making their way here to see us. We are also very grateful to James' high school friend Kelly and her family for the restaurant tips, delicious home cooked paella (best we've ever had), and most of all, the babysitter recommendation!


We spent about 10 days in Seville, the capital of Southern Spain. We rented an apartment in the historic center part of the town and explored everything by foot. The city is beautiful and every corner you turn makes for a great photo op.

Plaza de España, built in 1928 for the World's Fair and currently under reconstruction. (We thought the China Pavilion was magnificent, but the scale of this plaza was breathtaking.)

Cathedral of Seville, largest gothic church in the world constructed in the 1400-1500s. (Another one at the site of a former mosque)

Tomb of Christopher Columbus inside the Cathedral

Alcázar, royal palace (originally a Moorish fort). Beautiful gardens for strolling.

Before we arrived in Spain, we were told by many people to watch out for thieves and other petty crimes. There were a few women by the Cathedral who tried to offer me some herbs and in my high defense, I declined to engage them. Apparently once you hold the herb, they pester you for money. While at the Spanish Plaza, we also overheard a woman complaining about a man who attempted to grab her purse. I guess it's quite easy to get distracted when looking at such beautiful monuments.

One of the things we missed out on in Seville was attending a Flamenco dance show. The shows were typically after 9pm and without a babysitter, it was just not possible. But we certainly didn't miss out on the food since Seville is supposedly where tapas were invented. We went to a couple of tapas places and sampled a variety of delicious food. Our only complaint was the smoky rooms but that's expected everywhere in Spain (and Europe).

We ate all that?

After almost a month in Andalusia, we left Seville on a train to Barcelona. Southern Spain is such a culturally rich region with well preserved historical sights. I'm glad that our experiences were captured on film and on this blog, but it is definitely a place that I'd like to return to one day.


We got the Spanish Eurail Pass since we'll be taking the train through Granada - Cordoba - Seville - Barcelona - Madrid. But it turns out that there are additional booking fees on top of the flat rate for each ticket. We're probably not going to break even on this pass unless we do more trips around the country.

We took a two hour train ride from Granada to Cordoba. Most people probably spend a day in Cordoba, but we spent an entire week here. It was nice to just relax and take in the city at our own pace. Unlike most of our past stays in apartments, we stayed at a hotel this time. It was less convenient since we didn't have a kitchen but was otherwise very comfortable. The hotel was also very convenient, being right outside the old city walls.

Cordoba was quite hot but still very tolerable. Surprisingly the air temperature registered 39 degrees Celcius (102.2F), but it didn't really feel that hot. The main attraction of Cordoba is the Mezquita, or the Great Mosque of Cordoba (AKA the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption). It is a Catholic church that is built on top of a mosque, that was built on top of a Christian church. One can visibly appreciate the layers of history in this monument. The interior of the Mezquita is a huge hall with seemingly endless columns and double arches. It was interesting to see all the Catholic symbols surrounded by Muslim architecture.

Other activities we enjoyed include visiting the Alcazaba, the ruins of a Roman temple and meandering through the city under the shade.

In culinary updates, we finally enjoyed some tapas and local cuisine for lunch. We continue to struggle with the late restaurant opening hours for dinner and our baby's early bedtime, but luckily the hotel bar served decent food all day long. We must confess though that we did try a Chinese restaurant and a Japanese restaurant during our time in Cordoba, along with a Burger King dinner one evening. Sometimes you just need a break from all the jamon, aceitunas, croquetas, boquerones and patatas.