Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities I have ever been to for so many reasons. The list of things to love is infinite: gorgeous, sunny weather, beautiful beaches, a ton of greenery throughout the city, unique architecture, good vibes, and such delicious food (especially ice cream… more on that later). Barcelona felt like a European city but also felt like a beach paradise at the same time.
Please keep in mind that this is going to be an extremely long post because Barcelona was just so jam-packed with activities and I have a ton to say about it. So if you choose to just scroll through and look at the pretty pictures, I completely understand. But if you want to stick with me here and read this whole thing, thanks — you won’t regret it!
When we arrived in Barcelona on a train from Paris, it was late afternoon, early evening. We took the metro from the train station. This particular experience was kind of bad-ass/hilarious/embarrassing looking back on. In some of the other cities we had been to, the public transportation system throughout the cities was so chill that nobody was checking to see if you paid. So I was just trying to save a couple bucks so I thought it would be a great idea to try to sneak through the wheel chair door rather than the spinny, clicky turnstile door that you can’t sneak through. It just opened right up and I saw other people doing it (the one guy was in a wheel chair so that explains a lot), but as I went through, Kyla called my name and I turned around and there was a cop right there. Oops. I thought I had been acting casual but apparently not. So I turned around and bought the stupid ticket. It’s safe to say that as my cheeks reddened, I learned my lesson.
We got off at Catalunya Plaza and from there walked to our hostel, 360 Hostel Barcelona. The walk was pretty straightforward but, of course, we somehow managed to get halfway lost. Everything about the hostel was great! It was just what we were looking for. We got to know the other travelers staying there, it was in a great location, the price was decent, the dorm rooms were clean and ours had a balcony, and the staff was so friendly and helpful! They even took us and a bunch of people staying at the hostel around and showed us fun parts of Barcelona. One of the nights we were there, they served free paella to everyone and it was delicious. I highly recommend staying there if you’re visiting Barcelona.
That first night in Barcelona, Sydney, Kyla, and I just explored the surrounding area and walked around, admiring everything — as we had with all the cities we visited. It was a really nice area.
The next morning, we woke up earlier than usual because we were excited to get out and wander around! With a few exceptions, we mostly just got around the city by foot because we wanted to really take it all in. I wish I had taken more pictures in Barcelona, but I was just enjoying myself so much that it became annoying to have to carry my camera around, so most of the time I just didn’t bring it with me.
The first place we went was to Ciutadella Park! It was a huge park and there was tons of stuff to see and do there. At the entrance, which was just a five minute walk from our hostel, we were taken by surprise when we saw Barcelona’s own Arco de Triunfo — it looks slightly similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but with a definite Spanish flair.
I really, really loved the park. It was crowded, with people sunbathing everywhere, and the landscaping was so beautiful. There were palm trees and the Cascada Fountain which was a royal-looking fountain that looked so refreshing I just wanted to jump in! There was a castle, a zoo, and a boating pond all in the park. And tons of kids on field trips! We spent our time running through giant bubbles with kindergartners, laughing at guys showing off their slack line skills and failing, admiring the cute little parrots that took me by surprise, and just relaxing in the sun. Kyla had her book to read while Sydney and I were both writing postcards.
From the park, we made our way to the south toward Las Ramblas where we ran into the main post office and mailed our postcards to friends and family back home. I thought the post office had beautiful architecture — it was quite grand in there:
After about a 15 or 20 minute walk, we arrived at Las Ramblas. It’s one of the most popular place for tourists to go and it was bustling when we got there. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was an absolute tourists trap, with each stand selling the same crappy merchandise one after the other. But we did stop at Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria and I loved that. There were so many crazy foods and spices to choose from. They also had normal things like fresh fruit and seafood, but I thought the brains and intestines were so much more fun to look at:
The day ended with us walking back to the hostel, but not before grabbing some ice cream.
In fact, much of the next few days were spent enjoying delightful seafood and mouth-watering ice cream. We tried a few different ice cream places, but all fell head-over-heels in love with Gelateria Gocce di Latte!!!!!!!!!! (Read the reviews on TripAdvisor… they get me.) Oh my goodness, I had never had ice cream like that all my life. They used spices like cardamom and cinnamon and mixed them with things like orange and pear and honey. So creative, yet sophisticated. If you are in Barcelona, you have to go! Each flavor I tried put a huge smile on my face. The three of us consistently sighed deeply and closed our eyes when the ice cream touched our tongues. And when we each finished our ice cream, we were depressed (see pictures below). We went there three times — but the third time we were too late and it was closed! 😦 Next time I am in Europe, I am going there, whatever it takes.
We also consumed large amounts of delicious seafood. As many people know, the culinary experience in Barcelona is all about the tapas. So we tried that out (sorta) but found ourselves wanting to just order actual meals so we did that instead. I loved every single thing I ate in Barcelona. Here are a couple of pictures to prove it:
Most of the time spent wandering was in the Gothic Quarter which was such a beautiful area full of character and had such a unique personality:
One morning we all agreed that we wanted to see the Picasso Museum so we did. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, so I don’t have any, but it was great. Much of the art was from Picasso’s earlier years when he was still painting classically, but there were also many, many pieces from his Blue Period as well as his many versions of “The Pigeons.” Some of my favorites included “Las Meninas” and “The Wait (Margot)”. His artwork is truly incredible and I think this museum is a must-do in Barcelona.
That afternoon was spent at Playa Barceloneta — the first of two beaches we visited in Spain. I had never been to a beach like that and I thought it was hilarious how all the vendors were screaming out the items they were selling (massages, mojitos, cervezas, sangria, those cute tumblr-style wrap/tapestry things, y agua). That was the entire market, though. A bunch of people all selling the same things. And it was so crowded. But the sun was shining, the sand was hot, and the water was cool. What more could I ask for?
We went to see La Sagrada Familia after that and stood in awe as the sun got lower and lower in the sky and that immense cathedral just remained stagnant in the sky above. It was quite impressive. I hope to go back one day when it’s completed!
And of course, we spent our last day in Barcelona at Park Güell. The climb up there was steep, yet rewarding and the views were fantastic. You could see the entire city! Barcelona looked a lot bigger than I had imagined it. There were also some really great performers just hanging out there (scroll down for the picture of this guy dancing this really cool jig/tap dance thing — the music he was dancing to was really great, too). I bought an artsy necklace for my mom, too, which was hand-made metalwork that he twisted into shape right in front of you. There were also the usual cheap vendors selling cheap stuff, but to each his own.
Unfortunately, due to our incompetence with booking trains in a timely matter, all the tickets for the day we had wanted to leave were sold out, so we had to leave one day earlier than we had wanted. So, as our train was leaving that afternoon, we had to cut our time short and didn’t get to go into the entire area of the park. But what we did get to see we loved. And there’s always next time to see more.
Barcelona is an incredible city. If you want to go, please just do it! You won’t regret it! My daydreams as I sit idle in class are often filled with images of this stunning city twirling around in my mind. I really do want to go back one day.