First blog for 2023, and I’m writing about our trip last September to Barcelona, Spain. We were quite excited for that trip and booked three different hotels, as we had tours going in and out of the city. Spain being farther away from our country was at the tail end of our European bucket list so it was an achievement of sorts being able to finally hop on a plane as we had that trip planned since 2020.
On the first leg of our visit to Barcelona we stayed at the Gothic Quarter. Our hotel was a few minutes’ walk from the La Boqueria market. We walked along the streets of the Gothic Quarter as we headed to our hotel to drop off our bags. I made a mental note to spend a proper amount of time exploring those streets as I hastily admired the stores and art that we passed through.
We thought we would have brunch at the market but realized they were closed on Sundays. So we went on to the first cafe we found along La Rambla. After brunch we headed to the first destination for the day: the beautiful Gothic church of Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi to attend mass. We got there 40 minutes early, so D and I walked around to check out the Chapel of the Purest Blood nextdoor. There was a display of the Barcelona City Giants in the church and it was a new learning for me. Later on I would see more of these and read more about them in the Virreina Palace along La Rambla, where the Exposicio del Seguici Popular de Barcelona was displayed.
Next to the Basilica is a small square where the Mostra D’Art was being held. On weekends, it caters to several stalls selling pretty art pieces. I admired the artwork and got the chance to chat with some of the artists. I gave myself a light tap on the back as I was somehow able to put my little Spanish to good use.
After mass, D and I walked around the Gothic Quarter. We particularly liked the Petritxol, a quaint old alley near our hotel where dessert and chocolate and jewelry shops are located. Here we stumbled upon a lovely find where we had our late lunch: the Espai Quera: Llibres i platillos. It was a cozy restaurant owned by a family for generations. The owner was warm and welcoming and he explained the restaurant’s history and old map and photos.
We covered a lot of ground on our Day 1 in Barcelona, pretty much around the area where we stayed.
At past 3 o’clock I felt my jetlack kick in so I went to the hotel for a siesta while D continued to explore. At around 9 o’clock he woke me up and we went to the restaurant I saved in our To Go To list for wine and tapas. This is one of my best memories of Barcelona – the food!
On Day 2, D and I woke up early for our group tour and hike to Montserrat. Though the walk was not a significant distance, that hike was quite a workout. After the drive back to Barcelona, D and I rewarded ourselves with a hefty late lunch.
On Day 3, D and I walked toward the Columbus Monument at the end of La Rambla. We found that we could go up for a small fee, so we did. At the top we admired the panoramic view of the city.
Next we walked further to the Rambla del Mar for some quiet time while viewing the beach.
In the afternoon D and I headed to Placa Reial to meet out guide for the afternoon bike tour. No visit to a new city would be complete without riding a bicycle, an easy way to explore. We were 9 in our group. I’m embarrased to say I was consistently the last one in the line (gotta get me more cardio exercises to keep up). Kudos to my groupmates who waited for me as I got caught in traffic.
Our guide brought us to several places: El Borne, Palau de la Musica, Arc de Triomf, Barcelona Cathedral, Parc de la Ciutadella, and last but not the least: the Sagrada Familia. We had such a blast cycling around the city, and the locations we visited were icing on the cake. Of these places I was was most captivated by the grand fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The sound of the water and the trees surrounding it were quite soothing to the eyes and the ears, so our stop here was refreshing.
Over the next few days we’d revisit these places to see them at different times of the day. We would check out the churches and museums, and for a souvenir I bought a simple watercolor painting from a street artist.
Our trip to Barcelona was an architecture, art and food overload and we loved every second of it. This was a great introduction to Spain, and we are determined to go back to this awesome country to explore it more.