Well Barcelona really lived up to its nickname of BarceLOCA. We only had a day and a half there so we tried to make the most of it. The first evening was spent seeing some of the sites such as the 1932 Olympic Stadium and the Sagrada Familia (a huge church that was been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed around 2026!). It was incredible! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go inside but the outside was amazing. Following the Segrada Familia, we went to have dinner at the top of one of the former bull fighting arenas. Barcelona banned bull fighting so they converted one of the old arenas into a mall with several restaurants at the rooftop terrace. Once at the top you get a 360 degree view of the city. The view was incredible! Barcelona seemed much much bigger than Madrid even though Madrid is actually bigger. Barcelona seems more spread out whereas Madrid seemed compact and concentrated in the city center. After the dinner we had a chill night to recover and relax for the next night out in Barcelona.
The second day in Barcelona, we went on a short walking tour around one of the cathedrals. The tour was followed by churros and hot chocolate! A traditional Barcelona treat! The churros were on my bucket list for Barcelona so I was glad we were able to try them. The chocolate was surprisingly not that sweet which was perfect to counter the sweetness of the churros. I also had a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice which was some of the best orange juice I’ve had.
Following the churros we walked along the La Rambla and did a little shopping. We found this store called the Jamon Experience and decided we had to check it out. The store actually offers a tour with the history of Spanish ham and then had a great selection of ham products to purchase. We skipped out on the tour but stocked up on some ham to take home as souvenirs. I bought some of the thinly sliced Iberico prosciutto type of ham and then some mini chorizos. I had planned on bringing home souvenirs that actually were from the cities I visited rather than just tourist gifts. (Side note: I found out on my plane ride back to the US that you are not allowed to bring any meat products back into the US – including packaged items like the prosciutto I bought. I declared that I had ham and unfortunately had to leave it with customs — I didn’t even get to eat any of it since I had packed it in my checked luggage!)
After doing a little shopping we headed towards the port. We wanted to ride the gondolas but apparently they were closed for the day; instead we walked out on the pier and looked around. At this point we were pretty hungry from all the walking so we decided to grab lunch. We were all dying to try some Spanish paella so Neli did a quick Google search of best paella in Barcelona and came up with Restaurant Barceloneta. It was actually super close to us so we decided to try it out. It was this cute restaurant with an upper deck terrace with views of the port. Of course we had to take a ton of pictures with that view. I think the waiter laughed about the numerous pictures but then he offered to take a few of the group. For lunch we ordered white wine sangria and decided to split the seafood paella and the salt salmon. Both were amazing (I’m usually not a huge seafood fan but this was fantastic).
After lunch we only had a few hours left before we needed to be back at the hotel. We decided to squeeze in a quick visit to Park Gúell which was another place with amazing views. We only spent about an hour there which was not nearly enough time for the full experience. We grabbed a cab from the restaurant to Park Guell and our cab driver, Agusti Urgell, is actually a semi-famous Barcelona cab driver – he has a notebook that he asks all his customers to sign – he even had a copy of the newspaper article the city did about him!
That night we went to a traditional flamenco show with a three course meal of tapas appetizers, chicken and rice for the main, and creme brûlée for dessert. The flamenco show was amazing. The amount of passion the dancers had was incredible. I was expecting more of a partner dance but each person danced individually. There was a lot of stomping and finger snapping included. There was also a live band for the performance. The whole show was beautiful.
I had an amazing time in Barcelona and Spain and will definitely be back one day. Next up Avignon and Nice!!
**I’m still looking for my camera cord so I can download the rest of my pictures. Once I find it I will add some pictures of the Segrada Familia and the view from the bull fighting arena.**