Maybe it was the change in temperature or the joy of traveling to a place neither of had ever visited before, but me and the MR loved Barcelona.
What’s not to love? Tasty food, tons of shopping, amazing architecture, beautiful beaches, famous artists, and friendly people added up to a wonderful time.
Our first day started off a little slow. We were delayed by the french air traffic controllers strike and spent more hours than we liked in Gattwick. Upon reaching the hotel, we came upon our second hiccup. Two floors of the building had lost water the previous day, they were shuffling us off to their sister hotel a few streets over. It was the same star rating, and it had water—sounded good to me.
This new hotel was situated across the street from the El Born area of the city with its many restaurants and interesting shops. While the Ramblas is lined with department stores, El Born is filled with boutiques and artisan shops. I bought a gift at one such shop where the man wrapping up my purchase explained that his girlfriend was in the basement workshop designing more.
Our first night we stumbled upon the Cathedral of Barcelona along with its fair and street performers.
Imagine walking by a place like that every day. While this is not the cathedral people come to Barcelona to see, it is special in its own right.
The next day, we spent exploring the city. If one walking tour is good, three would be better, right? One reason I like these tours is all the hidden places you find. The MR questioned the wisdom of walking down a gated road, past a security guard, in search of who knows what, but we went on to find a hidden park, tiny gardens, and a simple church.
We wouldn’t have voluntarily wandered through food markets, but there’s something joyful about these places. In comparison plastic-wrapped Safeway leaves a lot to be desired.
A trip down the Ramblas led past hoards of shops and shoppers.
Barcelona has done a great job making its city pedestrian-friendly. We especially enjoyed the outside cafes situated in the median; apparently water also makes me quite giddy.
When we told people we were headed to Barcelona, they always mentioned the amazing architecture; they weren’t exaggerating. Of course we visited the Block of Discord with three buildings by three modern architects. It’s all just so beautiful, and creative, and unusual.
Me and the MR just wandered about wondering what this or that building was and admiring each one.
We also enjoyed Picasso’s Museum featuring some of his earlier works. Apparently, he lived in Barcelona in some of his youth and as a young man.
On our last day, we headed for the beach. Instead of dealing with trains and schedules, we simply headed for the port and walked along the coast till we found a good place to stop.
After days of walking, it was nice to sit and put our feet up for a bit. Locals were offering a foot massage for 5 Euros; I was quite tempted to agree. We found a little restaurant off the boardwalk and ordered a snack before heading home. They served a tasty prosecco sangria that the MR has tried to replicate at home.
Just check out the boardwalk I’m standing on. The city has a wonderful place for families to explore along the seaside. And just take a look at the climbing structure behind me. I can’t imagine it would meet safety codes at home, but it sure looks like a lot of fun. They also have volleyball nets and some kind of handball type game that uses a net instead of a wall. This beach is definitely meant for fun.
The food in Barcelona was quite good—some of the best of our trip. We did have a few problems with ordering tapas and wound up with a plate of ham and a plate of cheese on more than one occasion. It was better to simply wing it. I had no idea what a vegetable timbale was, and we certainly wouldn’t order squash, eggplant, and mushrooms stacked in a tower. Happily, it was delicious. The tasting menu our last night offered plenty of dishes we wouldn’t have ordered on our own, but it was fabulous. Our spanish is awful, and the menu writers’ english translations leave a lot to be desired, so just go for it.
Now before I close, I know what your thinking, “You went to Barcelona and you missed Sagrada Familia.” Don’t worry; I’m running out of words, and this post is already too long. We’ll take a look at Gaudi’s amazing vision of a cathedral on Friday, so you’ll just have to be patient until then.
What do you like to do when you travel? Any stories from Barcelona?