Sunday, May 12, 2013

Barcelona!

What an amazing city! There is something for everyone in Barcelona, whether your thing is sun, art, architecture, food, the beach, history...I could go on! My thing happens to be all of the above mentioned, so needless to say that I am in love with Barcleona!

Kyle had a four day weekend, so we headed to Barcelona to escape our drabby weather. It was a short one hour and 45 minute flight; not bad at all! When we arrived in the late afternoon the weather was sunny and perfect! We checked into our very nice, centrally located apartment and headed out to explore. We started walking towards the old Gothic Quarter and walked in whichever direction looked interesting (which was every direction). While walking we came across the Roman Gates into the old town, the Barcelona Cathedral, and plenty of unique shops and tapas restaurants! We found a tapas restaurant in a nice square where we could sit outside and people watch while we ate. It was a wonderful first evening in the city!




New art mixed in with the old


Our first full day in Barcelona was very busy!  We started the day with delicious chocolate croissants and cafe con leche at the bakery by our apartment.  (The ladies knew us there by the end of our weekend!)

Then we headed out for our four hour bike tour of the city with Fat Tire Bike Tours.  I think bike tours are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.  We had a great tour guide that showed us some of the highlights of the city.  One of our first stops in the Gothic Quarter was at the palace of Ferdinand and Isabella.  We were so impressed to see the stairs that Christopher Columbus climbed to tell them the news of the new world that he discovered.


The palace of Ferdinand and Isabella

Palau de la Música Catalana

We saw the beautiful Arc de Triomf which is at the entrance of the gorgeous, green and lush Parc de la Ciutadella.  They built the Arc for an exposition in 1888.  The design of the arc was actually the second design choice of the committee that chose it.  The first choice was rejected by the people of Barcelona.  Since the first choice was rejected, the designer of the first choice (you may have heard of him, Gustave Eiffel) went to Paris to build his Eiffel Tower instead.

This might have been the Eiffel Tower!

Another of our favorite sites was the Sagrada Familia.  It's a massive cathedral designed by one of my favorite architects, Antoni Gaudí. His designs have helped shape Barcelona into what it is today.  Construction on the cathedral began in 1882 and it is still not complete.  They are trying to finish it by 2026 for the 100 year anniversary of Gaudí's death, but we'll see if that happens.  There is so much to the history of the cathedral and Gaudí, so I won't bore you with all of the details, but it's definitely worth reading about!  I remember being so impressed by the cathedral in art history, and it was so amazing to see in person!  We didn't have time to go in this time, but it's on our list for next time!


At the end of our bike tour, we had lunch at a nice cafe by the beach.  It had clouded up when we first got to the beach, but by the time we sat down the sun was back and making the Mediterranean shine in brilliant blues and emerald green.  It was fun to be able to hang out and chat with people from all over the world.  It was a great end to the tour!




That evening we had a tapas tour booked.  After showering and resting up a bit from the bike tour, we headed back out for tour number two!  The tapas tour was a lot of fun.  It was kind of like going out with friends!  There were about 10 other people on our tour, most of which were German!  We went to four different tapas bars where we had different regional specialties like chorizo, manchego cheese, fish, cava (Spanish champagne) and a delicious tomato bread.  Two of the bars we went to were some of the oldest in the city.  It was a lot of fun!

Drinking wine the Catalan way
Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

Mmmm, chorizo!

Enjoying some cava!
After the tour, we walked around the marina and then found a nice cafe in a beautiful courtyard where we enjoyed some Sangria.  It was a perfect end to our busy day!




I still had plenty of things on my list that I still wanted to see the next day!  We headed up a beautiful, wide boulevard to see two famous apartment buildings designed by Gaudí.  They are both built in the Modernista style, which is like Spanish Art Nouveau.  They both have very organic, curving shapes which make them really beautiful and unique.


Casa Batlló

Casa Milà or La Pedrera

From there we took the metro to Gaudí's famous Park Guell.  Gaudí originally intended the park to be a neighborhood.  Among the beautiful trees and flowers are awesome buildings and structures.  There's a school, and market place, aqueducts,  a few houses including his own, and all sorts of random really cool looking stuff!







Hello there, parrot!


From there we headed to another park in a different part of town, so we hopped back on the metro where we saw the biggest vending machine of our lives!  The park Montjuïc is on a mountain/big hill on the coast right at the edge of town.  It's a beautiful area that's home to a lot of gardens, an Olympic stadium, and a couple of art museums.  The Palau Nacional is a very grand building at the base of the hill that is now home to an art museum.  We had a great lunch there before walking around the rest of the park.  We really could have spent all day there.  At the top of Montjuïc is a castle, which was our destination.  There are a couple of trams that go up to the castle, and we meant to take one of them...but we kind of missed where you load the tram and ended up climbing to the top ourselves.  We were greeted with gorgeous views of the city and the Mediterranean at the top.  I was very happy to take the tram back down because my feet were killing me!  (When I decided to wear ballet flats that morning, I did not know that we'd be climbing a mountain!)

Palau Nacional










We headed back to the apartment to rest a bit before heading out for the evening.  We headed to the EL Born neighborhood, which is is in the old town center.  It's an awesome neighborhood with narrow alleyways that hide boutiques, galleries, and tapas bars.  It has a great atmosphere.  At the center of El Born is Santa Maria del Mar; a very pretty cathedral built in the 1300's.  We sat at a nice outdoor cafe in the square in front of the cathedral for some tapas and sangria.  From there we wandered around some more, just enjoying the evening.




Our flight was about noon the next day, so we didn't have time to do any sightseeing on our last day. We had our usual breakfast at the bakery before heading to the airport.  Most of the time at the end of a trip, I'm ready to go home.  This time, I was not ready!  I was loving the city! I didn't get to see everything I wanted to see, and I didn't get to eat everything I wanted to eat!  It is definitely a place we will be revisiting.  It is a unique city and has a lot to offer!


1 comment:

  1. Great pictures!! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to go myself!

    ReplyDelete