The city of inspiration for the delectable tunes of Mr Sheeran; Barcelona! We arrived by train, a short 2.5 hours from Madrid. Again, on foot we set out to explore the city! The streets were a beautiful mix of gothic and modern architecture; cobbled narrow and windy roads, lined with alfresco dining options and cute shops! A Mecca for the Aussie traveller in Europe!
Unique to Barcelona is the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. Breaking the budget, we went to the infamous Sagrada Familia, a church in the centre of Barcelona. Gaudi commenced work on this Church in 1882. It remains incomplete, with the estimated completion date being 2026! When you see this monument, it is understandable as to why the construction has taken so long. Each element of this Church serves both an aesthetic purpose, as well as being structural and symbolic. It is a must see for any traveller in Barcelona. To avoid queues, book your ticket online. Just make sure you arrive on time for your designated time slot or else it will all be for nothing!
For the active traveller, a 30 minute walk from the Sagrada Familia (up hill) leads you to Gaudi’s other infamous work; the Park Guell. Initially designed as a gated community for the rich, Guell sought out Guadi to design this estate. Upon Guell’s death, his heirs offered this land to the Barcelona City Council in 1922. It was then opened as a public park in 1926. The majority of the park is free, save for the concentrated monumental zone designed by Gaudi. Again, make sure you book your tickets as they sell out quick! The structural elements in this zone reminded us of gingerbread houses, decorated with beautiful mosaic tiles!
For some free activities, you can also view Guadi’s other works around the city of Barcelona (from the outside). This includes the Guell Palace, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila.
While at Park Guell, it is worth walking a further 20 minutes to the Bunkers Del Carmel. These bunkers were constructed to house an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War, but are now one of the best locations in the city to see the cityscape.
During our stay we also visited a few markets; Mercado de la Boqueria and Santa Caterina Market. Mercado de la Boqueria is more touristy, but the vibe is buzzing. Santa Caterina is more of a local experience, although being in the city centre the prices tended to be expensive.
Worth a wander is the Gothic Quarter. This area dates back to the Roman Empire; winding narrow streets and Gothic Architecture – what’s not to love? In the Gothic Quarter lies many of the city’s museums. On each Sunday, some of the museums open for free in the afternoons (3PM to 7PM), and for the whole day on the first Sunday of each month. We chose to visit the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (where the history of Barcelona is detailed, including Roman artefacts) and Museu Picasso, an impressive collection and chronological journey through Picasso’s artistic career.
One of our favourite things about Spain is their love for parks and green spaces. In Park Ciutadella you can see children running around playing with bubbles, adults practicing Tai Chi and even a local attempting to play a Didgeridoo! At night, you can also go to the Font Magica de Montjuic. As our Airbnb host said “it’s worth a look as it’s one of the last free attractions in this city!” Here, at night, you will find hundreds of people crowding a square to watch a water and light show, set to opera music. A little bit cheesy, but kind of romantic too. The only let down during our Barcelona adventure was their beaches. Where is the pristine clear water? Where is the white soft sand? And why are people packed in like sardines? Perhaps Australia has overindulged us with beautiful clean beaches, white sand and ample space! Needless to say, we did not go for a swim!
Of course the highlight of our trip to Barcelona, indeed any Spanish city, was the gastronomy experience! Tapas, Jamon, Cerveza and of course, Sangria. Our favourite tapas restaurant was one in the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni called Casa Dorita. Daniel has never smiled more than this evening and he even said “I’m done. I can die happy now!” Oh, and we can’t forget the flower icecreams!
Next up, the south of Spain. Bring on the flamenco dancing, more tapas and the scorching heat!
DT and AP