For Spring Break this year, I spent an unbelievable 10 days with my roommate Kelsey in Barcelona visiting two of my good friends from home, Jaclyn and Rachel. We took full advantage of everything Barcelona had to offer day and night, thanks to their help. We started the trip at 3 am Cali time on a Wednesday, travelled for like 20 hours, and got to Barcelona at 7 am local time on Thursday… not to see a bed again until 5 am Friday Barcelona time. This trend continued as we filled each day up with more and more 🙂 Breaks aren’t for sleeping!
Barcelona by day:
La sagrada familia is an absolute must. It is a gorgeous cathedral that has been under construction for over a century and is still very far from completion. One of Gaudi’s masterpieces, he only got to see the Nativity facade before he passed away.
Gaudi’s influence can be seen throughout the city, specifically in La Sagrada Familia, Casa mila, and Park Guell. Casa Mila was truly innovative for the time. With a multi level roof covered in chimneys and stairwells and an intricate design to trap both heat and cold, it was an apartment building structured so that tenants would be able to knock out walls and redesign the layout as they desired. Park Guell is a gorgeous park covered in mosaic works, originally intended to be a private area for only the people living in the immediate vicinity, but was opened up to the public. It is perched on top of a hill that looks out across the city.
Besides learning about Gaudi’s influence on the city, we also made it to a number of museums very affordably thanks to a BCN art pass that includes admission to 7 museums for 30 euro. We made it to Casa Mila, the Picasso Museum (great Las Meninas collection and complete picture of Picasso’s life), the Museum of Chocolate (full of Chocolate replicates of famous characters, scenes, and buildings, ticket is a chocolate bar), Joan Miro (some of his works appeared to have been done by a small child… but I don’t really understand modern art), MACBA, and a few others that are slipping my mind. The one we liked the most was probably the MNAC, but not because of what was inside. The MNAC is a gorgeous castle-like building at the top Montjuic. We climbed what must have been thousands of steps to take a view of the entire city. Though there were lots of people in the background of their pictures, there was even a wedding party taking wedding photos in front of the MNAC! It is at Plaza Espana, next to the Olympic stadium, and an old bull fighting arena that is now a mall with a viewing deck on the roof.
In between museums, we spent quite a while just wandering the streets near Saint Jaume plaza and on both sides of Las Ramblas trying crepes, gofres (waffle like deliciousness), and gelato at all the different stands, because obviously they might taste different on different streets. We also came across a few really pretty parks including Park of the City (great translation, I know) which is attached to a zoo, so of course we had to see if Spain zoos were better than American ones. Continuing our wandering in search for tapas (afternoon pre-dinner dishes), we accidentally came across Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful Cathedral open to the public to wander through, as well as the Cathedral of Barcelona, which takes up an entire city block. As long as I’m listing the churches we went to, we also went into the church at the top of Tibidabo, a mountain whose main access is by cable car and a funicular, with a church and amusement park on top (great combo). We ate near the top and the view from here was unbelievable and by this time, Kelsey and I could pick out most of the recognizable buildings across the skyline including the Olympic Towers, the W hotel, and La Sagrada Familia.
The last few days, we spent some time at the Barceloneta beach laying around and playing on the very clearly child proof and safe jungle gym next to the men wearing speedos. We enjoyed some paella, a staple in Spain, at a restaurant right on the water and eventually made it to the FC Barcelona arena for a tour of the facility where the futbol team plays. We even made it to a Flamenco show! It was full of angry tap dancing and spicy costumes and something I could only truly enjoy in Spain.
For you youngins… Barcelona by night
Thanks to Jackie and Rachel’s abroad program, they knew of multiple promoters that promoted specific clubs for each night of the week (making entrance free). So naturally, we had to see them all. We made it to Sutton, Otto Zutz, Shoko, Club Catwalk, and Opium which are mostly frequented by Americans and located right along the beach. Besides the clubs, we went to a number of fun bars including IceBarcelona, which is entirely made of ice, Dow Jones Bar, where prices rise and lower based on what’s selling and occasionally the stock market crashes, and George Payne, which was the hot spot on St Patty’s day to watch the FC Barca game. For those going to bars to drink, however, some of the more popular places were Taberna, where you make your own drink, Chupitos, which has thousands of shots listed on the wall completed with flames, fruit, and marshmallows among others, and Summon, where all the shots are all one euro.
Barcelona in a nutshell
If you only have a few days in Barcelona, you absolutely cannot miss La Sagrada Familia and going up to Montjuic to see the MNAC and the view from the top. You should walk down the side streets of Las Ramblas, have fresh juice at La Boqueria (fresh market) and end with a walk along the beach, its just beautiful. You must try paella and tapas and remember your water bottle because water is not free and actually more expensive than alcohol. Getting around by metro during the day was super easy, a 10 ride pass is quite affordable, and taxis at night were safe and cheap. If you feel like it, go see a Flamenco show, and if you do the dinner show combo, you can knock out unique cultural experience and trying paella all in one. Park Guell and the view from the top of Tibidabo are two that you won’t regret seeing, but the Olympic stadium, Camp Nou (where FCBarca plays), and the Zoo are all things to be missed if you only have a short time. Feel free to email or comment with any questions! Everyone should go to Barcelona, its amazing!!!