Barcelona has all the makings of a fantastic vacation spot. It has sunshine and beaches, the people take PLANNED nap time in the afternoon (I’m allll about that siesta), and the entire city is filled with awesome sculpture, art, and culture. I could rave about Barcelona for years, to be perfectly honest, so I decided to narrow it down to a few things that any Barcelona trip should include (in my opinion). Something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to make Barca your next vacation destination is that there is LOTS of crime, mostly pickpocketing. We really had to learn just not to talk to anybody on the street, because chances are that they were figuring out a sneaky way to grab my purse! This didn’t affect us in any major way, but I don’t think it’s a great family destination; it’s not the most kid-friendly city. For anybody else, though, I’d say to BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW! What are you waiting for!?
1. La Sagrada Famila: This cathedral, still under construction 130 years later, is/was the crowning achievement of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s work is found all over the city, but this church is the most spectacular of them all! And the best part: they aren’t even finished with it yet. It’s 100% worth it to pay the fifteen euro to enter (even though it’s a bit steep for the typical student budget)! The outside is amazing, but the massive sandstone columns and gigantic panes of stained glass on the inside make it completely worth it. Walking in with the sound of construction reverberating around you, gazing up at the seemingly sky-high ceiling, and admiring the swoopy curves and designs of stairwells and seating areas is an unforgettable experience. It’s also worth the few extra euro to take the elevator to the top for a great view of Barcelona; don’t forget to stop in the Gaudi museum on the way out to see his grave!
2. Quimet & Quimet: I KNOW I always talk about food, but this place is too good to ignore…in fact we may or may not have gone there every night! There are tapas restaurants littering the streets of Barcelona, and this is hands down one of the best- it’s on a tiny, empty side street and somehow is completely packed every night. Picture this: you squeeze through the crowds into a one-room restaurant, the walls are lined with wine racks and there are small tables dotting the wood floors. You stand at your table, yell out in mangled Spanish to the proprieter to attempt at an order, and two minutes later he produces an absolutely gorgeous tapas with unique ingredients and flavors! Not bad, eh? Our favorites were the langostinos con pequillo (caviar, prawns, and yogurt sauce on a crostini) and another one we couldn’t pronounce that was dried beef with a sweet balsamic sauce and relish. They. Were. Delicious. Make sure to try the tangy house beer, aptly named Quimet & Quimet, prepare for an unbelievable culinary experience: and the tapas are only two-four euro each! Then mail me the meat and cheese platters, and I’ll love you forever.
3. Parc Guell: Aaand we’re back to Gaudi! The man was all over the place, I tell ya. Parc Guell, a massive green space found a bit north of the city, was originally intended to be a private neighborhood that integrated eco-friendly public areas with private homes to create one exclusive community. Unfortunately for them but lucky for us, funding and the high requirements to join led to the downfall of the plan and the opening of the park to the public! A walk through the park will show you surrealist structures that seem to be out of a Dr. Seuss novel, along with leafy trees and a view from the top of the city! The house where Gaudi lived is also inside the park and is worth a walk through just to see the sweet furniture he designed. If you’re lucky, while you are there you will see a police bust of all the gypsies selling trinkets along the side of the path as well as the gypsies fleeing up the side of the mountain with the police in hot pursuit! We did, anyway- I’ve never seen anything like it.
4. The Picasso Museum: If you are a Picasso fan in any regard, this museum will be your heaven. The museum goes through stages of Picasso’s life, even the times when he was not residing in Barcelona. There is a fabulous collection of his paintings, as well as rooms full of his ceramic work that I didn’t even know existed! Beware: this museum is ridiculously hard to find, as it’s on a weird little side street in the very middle of the city, so make sure you have good directions so you don’t spend two hours attemping to find it like we did…
Some of our other favorites: Rosal 34 (a delicious tapas restaurant located near Las Ramblas), Montejuic Park and Castle (a great afternoon activity for a beautiful view of the city), and la Barceloneta (the beach neighborhood on the ocean).
Stay tuned next Tuesday to hear a little more about BERLIN!