Experiences > things, so our family takes a trip every year for Christmas instead of exchanging gifts. This year we packed our bags for a month-long trip abroad. Our first stop in Brussels was fun, but our second stop really stole my heart. Barcelona, I think I’m in love.
Kyle studied abroad here in college and had always talked so highly of the city, and boy oh boy it did not disappoint. To me, Barcelona is a combination of the best parts of New York City and Los Angeles. You get the walking city and unique neighborhood feel of NYC, the beach and ability to escape of LA, and the delicious food and unlimited entertainment from both.
It had been a few minutes (cough10yearscough) since Kyle had been here, so we took a Fat Tire bike tour of Barcelona to start. We like doing a broad overview of a city at the very beginning so you can get your bearings and decide which parts you really want to go back to and dig deeper.
One of the places we decided to go back and explore was La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s famous masterpiece has been under construction for over 150 years and sees about 3 million tourists per year. I’m not usually into monuments, but this thing was un. freaking. real. Everything was so intricate and beautiful and thoughtful. If you ever go to Barcelona, I highly recommend getting a ticket to see it.
We paid an extra 5 euro to go up to the top of the tower, which was smaller than I anticipated but had a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Kyle doesn’t like heights and lasted all of 2 minutes up top (although this was longer than he lasted atop the Eiffel Tower!). :)
We visited the Magic Fountain in Mountjuic, which arguably has the BEST view of Barcelona, and the water shows that played every 30 minutes were fun to watch.
We visited Parc Guell for some time in nature. Honestly, unless you are a huge fan of Gaudi’s work, you don’t really need to buy a ticket. There are tons of trails that are free to access and WAY less crowded than the touristy area you pay to get into.
My favorite part about traveling is just wandering around and getting lost because sometimes the best experiences come from unplanned moments. Kyle & I loved exploring the cute streets (I’m obsessed) and the different neighborhoods. We spent hours just meandering through them all as well as along the beach. We stumbled upon a place that rented rollerblades, and I LOVE to skate, so we got some and skated up and down the entire beach boardwalk in perfect sunny weather.
One morning we woke up early and ran 7ish miles all over the city, ending up at the beach to watch the sunrise. Kyle and I also have a tradition of picnicking everywhere we go, so we picked up some goodies at La Boqueria, the big market downtown, and headed back to the beach for a little R&R.
The highlight of Barcelona was eating at a tapas restaurant called Xampanyet, a favorite among the locals. The place is small and man does it get packed! Walking in you can just feel the energy. It’s loud, it’s chaotic, and it’s totally fun. The house cava (champagne) is flowing, everyone is eating and merry and just having a great time. We were seated fairly quickly by our waitress who ended up being the owner of the restaurant, and we told her to just bring us whatever she suggested. Plate after plate of the most delicious food just kept on coming (as did the bottles of cava) and we were in heaven.
About halfway into our meal a Barcelonian man and Japanese woman asked to sit at our table, to which we replied “of course!”. The man ended up being the maker of a cava brand who was there with one of his employees, and they were so nice. We shared food, he ordered us a bottle of his cava, and we had the most wonderful time speaking in both broken English, Spanish, and the Japanese I could remember from childhood. I laughed so hard my abs were sore the next day.
This is the stuff you can’t plan for. These are the travel moments I live for.
I could have stayed in Barcelona for several more months but, alas, a ship was waiting to take us across the Atlantic and back home to the states.