For my second week with Scott we headed to Barcelona, Spain! Very different weather (absolutely gorgeous) in a very different place to give Scott an intro to Europe.
For some reason I just struggled when planning the Barcelona section of this trip, and we ended up in a hotel that was much further from the city center than I intended. It ended up taking us an hour to get into the city each day, half on a streetcar and half on the subway. Luckily, we got through things much more quickly than I anticipated because everything was in the same area , so we didn’t miss anything because of the extra travel time.
Wow today was grueling! We didn’t get to the hotel until 2 AM and after a quick 3 hour nap we were back up and heading out. I was concerned about our lost day so we went straight to Park Güell (a public park designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí) hoping to fit it in before our Sagrada Familia Tickets. Tickets for the monument area were sold out until that evening so we strolled around the rest of the park for a bit until it was time to head to the church. We didn’t feel like we missed out though.
Sagrada Familia, Gaudí s unfinished masterpiece as it is called, is kind of ugly from the outside. It’s impressive for sure but not exactly beautiful. The inside, however, is to die for. I can’t even describe it I can just say it’s amazing and I feel so lucky to have seen it.
After Sagrada Familia and a very late lunch, we planned to go to the Caxia Forum exhibits and Las Arenas, but didn’t quite make it. Instead, we ended up at a charming little tourist village called Poble Espanyol where there were little restaurants and shops and even museums representing the different regions of Spain. We shopped and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere before having an amazing dinner and going back to the hotel.
Today was much easier on us because we stayed within the city center area the entire day. We followed Rick Steves’ walk down Las Ramblas then cut over and followed his Barri Gòtic walk backwards until we were back where we started. On Las Ramblas we stopped in La Boqieria Market for some ice cream and had tapas for lunch. Then we visited the Cathedral of Barcelona in the gothic quarter before eating dinner back on Las Ramblas.
We also saw the harbor between the two sections and really enjoyed the very European streets of the Gothic Quarter.
We went back down to the city center today, starting again on Las Ramblas, but this time to visit Palau Güell, Gaudi’s first architectural commission.
After the mansion, we crossed over to Barri Gòtic to visit the Barcelona History Museum. The museum had Roman ruins and went through medieval times in Barcelona. It also answered one of my biggest questions since we got here, which was why Catalan (their language here) seems so very French. There have been several times that Catalan seems more French than Spanish to me (ex. Exit is Sortida in Catalan and Sortie in French, but Salida in Spanish), and it’s because France once controlled the Catalonia region of Spain.
We then went to the Gaudi Exhibition Center and learned more about the famous architect of Barcelona’s life and works. As our last stop before dinner, we stopped in to admire the Church of Santa Maria del Mar Catalan.
We went to the 8:30 flamenco show at Tarantos. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect but it turned out to be a really fun show! The man and woman danced first then the woman alone then the man alone, with a live band. I got some great videos of them too!
Today was a 100% Gaudí day. We started on the Block of Discord, glancing inside Casa Lleó Morera (not Gaudí) on our way to tour Casa Batlló (definitely Gaudí). We waited in a bit of a line for Casa Batlló but it was shorter than it looked and we were in pretty fast. Unfortunately, everyone else in Barcelona was visiting as well. It was nearly impossible to get a good picture of the architecture without getting 20 or so of our new friends in the shot too, so I didn’t leave with many photos. It was a very cool place though, super Alice in Wonderland-esque.
Our next stop was the equally Gaudí Casa Milà, or La Pedrera. (If you’re thinking I just made a Gaudí pun, you’re absolutely correct and I regret nothing). I want to say I liked Casa Milà more, but that could just be my crowd aversion talking. It was definitely bust but not the mob scene Casa Batlló was. I definitely love Casa Milà’s facade more than any others though.
Today was a kind of wrap up day, so we ended up in several museums; first Frederic Marès, then the Picasso Museum. The Frederic Marès museum was an odd mix of historical artifiacts and collections of various everyday items from his time.
The Picasso Museum was focused on Picasso’s early years which he spent in Barcelona, so it didn’t have any true Cubism paintings, but it was fascinating. It covered everything from his childhood through his “blue period”, up to his early works once he moved to Paris and the beginnings of his trademark style. Cubism isn’t quite my cup of tea, so it was really cool to see how incredibly talented Picasso was. He was a master at everything he did and his artistic range was incredible.
We decided we had pretty much covered Barcelona, so today we headed out for a day trip to Montserrat, a mountain with a monastery on it. The train there took about an hour then we took a cable car up the mountain. We visited the church and saw Our Lady of Montserrat (aka La Moreneta), then took two funicular rides to different points on the mountain where there were little hermitages and chapels. It was a beautiful place and it was nice to get out of the city for the day.
We made sure to get back to the city for dinner and sangria on Las Ramblas since it was our last night.
This morning Scott and I headed to the airport to go our separate ways. He had to rush to catch his flight because they didn’t do online check in and the desk employees were extra super slow.
My flight was supposed to be an hour after his, but there was something wrong with my plane so it was 3 gate changes and 2 hours after schedule that I finally took off.
I got to my VRBO apartment in Madrid a little after 4 and, after a quick grocery store run, made dinner there and FaceTimed with my mom before bed.