Time to get down to brass tacks and share the rest of our visit to Barcelona. Today I wanted to share where we stayed and explored. Now that we’ve gotten the Sagrada Familia out of the way, I think we can manage!
We so enjoyed ourselves in that sunny city, and we’ve already said we’d like to go back. We spent four days and three nights eating all the tapas, drinking lots of wine, and checking out all of their hipster-est coffee shops. All those spots later this week. But today, I thought it would be fun to tell you what we loved exploring and where we stayed while we were there. Here we go!
First, we stayed in an Airbnb apartment that was super. Michael found it by chance in the millions available for Barcelona and we’d definitely stay there again. The owner, Raimundo, made so many great recommendations and incredibly friendly. It was a one bedroom with floor to ceiling navy velvet curtains and a bed that has convinced us to upgrade our mattress at home. It was right around the corner from the Metro, which brings me to the second thing we loved about Barcelona: the Metro was fast and clean and came really often! We can never get over how fun it is to miss a train in continental cities – you only have to wait a few minutes for the next one! In Dublin, that is not the case.
Since we had heard a lot of stories about friends getting pickpocketed in Barcelona, we were really conscious of our belongings at all times. At one point, I was holding my camera by the strap in one hand and an older woman stopped me to tell me to put the strap around my neck since sometimes bad dudes will just run by and grab your camera. So it stayed right around my neck the rest of the visit! We thankfully made it through the weekend without any incidents.
Now, let’s get down to the fun stuff. First, Antoni Gaudí’s architecture (like the Sagrada Familia) is everywhere and mind-blowing and all under construction. Well, maybe not all of it, but all of the buildings we saw were at least partly covered in scaffolding. Some of them, like the Sagrada Familia, are simply not finished yet, and some of them are now being repaired.
We took the metro, then climbed the hill, then rode the escalator up to the Parc Guell. Another Barcelona feature designed by Gaudi, Parc Guell is a park commandeered by the city in the early 1900’s as a place for residents to escape to. We did see a few locals running the paths through the hill nearby, but otherwise the Parc Guell was pretty packed with tourists. The Parc Guell wasn’t our favorite spot in the city for that reason, it’s just hard to enjoy a place when all you see are selfie sticks and GoPro cameras! Of course, the view was hazy which didn’t help.
But it was impressive nonetheless. Can you even believe all those little bits of mosaic?
Then we rolled our way back down the hill to the city center and with all the passing tourists going the other direction, we were really glad we had already left! We were much happier wandering the streets and gazing up at all the plants and flags hanging off the balconies.
Also, oranges! In December! I’m quite proud of my restraint in only posting one photo of the oranges, considering my phone and camera were both full of them. It’s my dream to one day live in a place where I can grow citrus on a tree in the garden, even if it’s just for a little while. And if I come to visit you and you have citrus trees, I will probably pick them all.
We visited the Picasso Museum, where the only photo I took was of these spiky palm fronds in the courtyard. The Picasso Museum is almost worth the entrance fee just to see the building. It’s a labyrinth of stone rooms, and Picasso was a genius. From the time he was a child he was painting portraits and he went away to art school to study full time when he was just a teen.
We made a quick visit to the Mercat de la Boqueria market, which we found to be a little too crowded for our liking. We sat in the back for a little while and had a delicious platter of patatas bravas and stopped for a few pieces of overpriced chocolate on the way out, but then we skedaddled!
We preferred the local market near our apartment where we stocked up on clementines and fresh eggs and already ripe avocados for breakfast. It was much calmer and felt more authentic. Can you even believe the selection of fruits and vegetables available in December?
Of course, it was also just before Christmas when we were in Barcelona, so there were little Christmas markets full of pointsettias and mistletoe. They are also big into nativity scenes, so we saw lots of tiny figurines. And also moss? We couldn’t figure out why there was so much moss and bark, but I think they use it to give their nativity scenes a little more ambiance and texture. Correct me if I’m wrong with that guess from left field!
The lights were so fun and so different from Dublin’s Christmas lights. We really liked the upside down gumdrop lights below.
This light show wasn’t part of the Christmas decorations, it happens all year round. It’s called the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc and we weren’t its biggest fans. I really think swarms of tourists are my instant off button.
Later in the week, I’ll share where we ate and shared tapas and had a few drinks. Until then, have a really wonderful Tuesday!