Our third and final place in Spain was Barcelona. The city is bigger than we thought it would be but the metro system is vast and reliable. Barcelona is a town with so many different faces. From the beaches to the Gaudi art and other unique architecture throughout the city, Barcelona seems to have so much to offer. This probably explains why the city, even in March when we went, was teeming with tourists and tour groups. It was a bit unsettling to see so many and a bit hard to navigate around the numerous over-priced shops and restaurants almost solely designed to cater to this crowd. Thus, finding hidden gems became an even greater reward. Here are some pics and favorite places from our time in this vibrant city . . . .
The beaches here were great and not yet too crowded because of the chilly weather. Walking through the four main beaches takes between 30-45 minutes. Barceloneta Beach is closest to the city center and usually the most touristy. Many of the restaurants along the water are pretty touristy, but we had fun just walking through the sand and attempting a very windy, sandy picnic on the shore!
There is beautiful architecture throughout Barcelona. The different modern designs of various office and residential buildings are scattered all over the city and make every stroll around town photo worthy.
These are some apartment buildings along the Ramblas (the most touristy street in the city) designed by the famous Catalonian architect, Antoni Gaudi.
More Gaudi architecture here at the Park Guell. This place was like being teleported into Alice In Wonderland. The shapes and colors of the walls and houses provided an incredible (and kind of trippy) visual experience. Hike higher in the park for awesome views of the city.
The Sagrada Familia – a Gaudi masterpiece. Started by him in 1882 with an estimated completion date of his vision by 2028. Here, stones are cut and curved to imitate nature, giving cathedral goers the sense of standing in a great forest. Huge stained glass windows are designed to reflect specific colors throughout the day, casting a masterful natural light show across the walls and floors. Even the acoustics of the space are given the utmost attention in Gaudi’s plan. This, along with the strikingly unique stone statues covering the outside of the building and the mini museum on site that shows Gaudi’s fascinating and inventive upside down hanging model for the construction itself, make this cathedral one of the absolute must-sees in the city.
After Gaudi’s passing, architects continue construction (based on his plans) to see his vision through to completion.
Encants, a giant outdoor flea market that sells everything from socks to DVDs to mini porcelain trinkets that you thought no one would ever bother to make. The place also has a good food court on the top floor that serves nice tapas, burgers, salads and the likes. A good way to spend a few hours shopping for all kinds of cheap goods. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s at least worth a look.
The Gotic Quarter. Situated in the old city of Barcelona and one of our favorite neighborhoods to hang out. The labyrinthine street plan and the various buildings that date back to medieval times give this area a very different feel from the modern city center. The charming narrow alleyways have some good wine and tapas bars and the Picasso Museum here is a fun mid-day stop.
At El Soplo Bar. Cozy, rustic and conveniently located in a little alleyway very near the Picasso Museum in the Gothic Quarter, this was our favorite wine bar in the city. The owner, Nino, is very friendly and knowledgable about the organic wines he buys from the local wineries. He also sources local ingredients for the delicious tapas that he includes with your drinks. Hanging out here was a highlight for us and we highly recommend it!
The ham. Almost worshipped here in Barcelona. They do it well and might do it best.