We had high hopes for the Catalonian capital, and we were not disappointed – Barcelona is great!
We took the now routine early morning train ride saying goodbye to Valencia and enjoyed some great views on the almost entirely coastal trip. Our AirBnB was located in the El Putget neighborhood of Barcelona which is a beautiful and quiet area with giant hills and a gorgeous park. It is also close to Parc Guell and the bohemian/trendy neighborhood of Gracia (which we came to find had the most Lu-friendly restaurants we have encountered!). After we got settled, we headed to get food and found an amazing little hole-in-the-wall vegan restaurant called Quinoa Bar Vegetaria. Unlike many omnivores, I am not averse to meatless establishments (especially when they have Morissey quotes on the wall) and love really good vegan/vegetarian food so this place hit the spot. We spent the rest of our first Barcelona evening strolling the streets getting a feel for our new town and then headed back to our AirBnB for some sleep.
We were in Barcelona for 3 full days so we wanted to make the most of them. Day 1 included a bus ride to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. This museum had a massive collection of Gothic and Renaissance art as well as some interesting modern art. The museum itself is also a beautiful building and had great view of the city. From there we headed to Parc Guell, which was pretty underwhelming. It was extremely crowded and kind of a let down. But never the less we walked around and got some good pics. We headed back into Gracia for dinner settling into a little craft beer bar for some drafts and sandwiches.
Day 2 in Barcelona was a busy one. We walked to the Arc de Triomf and did some people watching while we soaked up the sun. We then headed to La Sagrada Familia (also by foot) and I found my faith in Antonio Gaudi renewed (after the Parc Guell disappointment). The outside is awe- inspiring, but when you step inside it blows you away. I’m not going to bother trying to spew adjectives to describe it because they cannot justly capture the magnitude of what we saw (see Lu’s pictures below).
After walking around with our heads tilted back for an hour looking at the ceilings, we had a thrifty lunch (almonds and oranges on a park bench). We then walked to the Museu Picasso and the BMCA which we learned is one of the most famous skating locations in the world. I have to give props to my friend Corey for this recommendation; we spent an hour watching skaters of all ages and backgrounds and relaxed for the first time that day.
At this point we were famished and followed another recommendation from our friend Barney and headed to the tapas restaurant Bodega Biarritz 1881 for possibly the earliest dinner in the history of Spain – 5:30 PM. This place was an experience – great drinks, better food, and an amazing atmosphere. If you visit Barcelona, you just go but arrive early because the line starts building before it even opens.
When we finished dinner we hopped on the metro (we had already walked 30,000 steps that day) and headed back to our quiet neighborhood taking a slight detour to a park on our street … and this little side hike ended up deciding how we would spend our last day in Barcelona.
When we climbed the many steps and hills of the park, we ended up at a viewpoint where we could see the whole city. We spotted a giant cathedral and what seemed to be an amusement park on top of a mountain beyond the city. This, we came to find out, was Mount Tibidabo (which any serial “Friends” watcher might recognize).
So on our final day we hiked to the funicular (like a mountain Tram) and rode to the top of Tibidabo. This is truly the best view in Barcelona; you can see the entire metro area and there is a beautiful church as well as a random (and mostly empty) amusement park all overlooking the city. We hung out, took some photos (Lu ordered one churro but it turned out to be 10+ churros that immediately made her sick) and contemplated hiking down the mountain to get back. We decided against that and rode back down. After revisiting our favorite vegan restaurant, we finished the afternoon doing something that after 3 weeks of traveling really needed to happen…laundry. Luckily, our AirBnB was located near a laundry mat, and after deciphering the Spanish instructions on the machine we were finally able to have clean clothes! That night, we needed to fulfill our duty of pizza eating around the globe, and we found a specialty gluten free pizza place (Lu’s dream!) in Gracia. It was great pizza and a great cap to our time in Barcelona.
Barcelona exceeded our expectations and took the spot of #1 city we’ve visited thus far. Great food, amazing places, and fantastic people – we will be back!