After a great week on the Mediterranean Cruise, the family was disembarked back in Barcelona, Spain with plans to spend a few days exploring the city. The first day back in Barcelona the group split up – the guys to check out Nou Stadium, Dad and Grandma to rest, and us girls to see the sights.
The guys had a flight to catch that evening, so we met up at Plaza Catalunya so they could see the most popular sites before they left. After a quick tapas break, we started the crowded stroll down La Rambla and wound up in Placa Reial in the charming Gothic Quarter.
It was a hot day, so we stopped at the very cute Artisa icecream shop.
After a long walk down La Rambla and along the marina, we finally ended up at Barcelona’s beach. It was a Sunday so the every inch of the sand was covered with locals sunbathing.
With our legs aching from all of the walking, we finally got settled into the apartment, our home for the next few days. The Airbnb was a large and historic (by American standards I suppose) apartment, featuring a private garden patio – perfect for enjoying a tinto break after a long day.
That night my dear friend Raisa flew in from Copenhagen to spend the week in Barcelona with my family. I had not seen her since our Northern Europe trip last fall, so I was so glad she could join us for a few days. She is part of the family now, and everyone was so happy to have her with us.
The next morning the group was ready to see the sights. Our Airbnb was walking distance to the most popular Gaudi houses and la Sagrada Familia, our destination for the day. Map in hand, I led the way.
We first visited Casa Batllo, designed to look like skeletal house of bones.
Next on our Gaudi architecture walk was La Pedrera.
And finally, a few blocks later, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s famous and controversial church is still under construction today.
Due to the intense heat and 5-hour wait, we decided to skip the interior tour for the day and settled for a leisurely lunch.
With a free afternoon in front of us, we decided to visit La Bouqueria, the market on La Rambla. It is probably my favorite thing to visit, with so many colors and smells and tastes. Warning – color overload ahead.
The market is famous for the rainbow-hued displays inviting you in. There was candy, chocolate, ham, fish, fruit, spices, and more.
But Boqueria Market is most famous for its fruit smoothie juices. For a few euro you can sample all of the flavors.
Coconut, strawberry, apple raspberry, mango, kiwi, and more.
We started sipping on the smoothies as we wove our way through the crowded stalls.
The market was a great gift-buying stop. We picked up ham, olive oil, salts and more. And snacks for a tapa-style dinner that night.
On the way out we made one final stop for a fruit popsicle.
We took a slow walk back to the Airbnb apartment, stopping at the amazing Spanish stores on La Rambla.
The next day we set out with a better plan. We would take a cab up the hillside to Park Guell in the morning, then in the afternoon head to La Sagrada Familia with pre-purchased tickets to see inside.
My previous trip to Barcelona we loved our Park Guell visit. I fondly remember taking the escalator to the top of the park, which was bizarre enough as is, and loving the mosaic benches and crazy Gaudi architecture. What we did not realize is that Park Guell now charges for admission to the most popular park attractions.
So with my Grandma in tow, we decided to do a streamlined walk of the Park that morning.
Park Guell, even just the free parts, was great to revisit. Next time I’d spend more time in the park and pay to see the famous mosaic benches, palm tree tunnels, and the lizard statue. But when you’re in a group, you go with the flow.
A quick cab ride later, we were back at La Sagrada Familia, this time with tickets in hand. The cathedral was beyond impressive, my photos not doing the massive and intricate space justice. Every corner of the cathedral was covered in elaborate geometric yet organic-inspired designs. Tree columns reached to the ceiling.
The space was unbelievable. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did, since Gaudi designed the facade to be over the top gaudy. Covered in fruit, rainbow colors, bizarre text. Way to over done. But the inside was more nature-inspired and geometric, so the crazy designs worked.
For our final night in Barcelona the family went out for a final tapa meal at La Tramoia.
After dinner we did like the Spaniards and strolled La Rambla, an eye open for a gelato shop. The adults returned home while us kids shopped our way back up La Diagonal towards the Airbnb.
It was sad to see our Barcelona trip and our time with Raisa come to an end. But we were all so looking forward to the most relaxing part of the trip, still to come, Blanes.