I recently returned from a trip to Spain where I spent 3 wonderful days in Barcelona or should I say Barthelona. The Spaniards have me lisping everything I sthay…. 🙂 It was my first time visiting Spain and starting in Barcelona was a pleasant surprise. I will share with you a few of the highlights ( in my opinion) of the city and a few must do things and places to visit while visiting. One of the first places we went to visit is the beach. Now being a California girl I am a bit jaded with beaches. I expect a lot. If it isn’t beautiful white soft sand, nice waves to ride a surf board or calm bath like waters you find in Mexico or the Caribbean….I think most beaches are so-so…so Barcelona isn’t the type of place you go to hangout at the beach. You go there to explore and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle! So after one too many bites of paella we headed back and walked along La Rambla. It is the most beautiful tree-lined pedestrian friendly street in the city. It is full of street vendors, stores and markets. I suggest a nice walk through this street and do make sure to stop at the central market and try some jamon or cheese selection.
One of the things I quickly picked up and understood was why the Spanish eat dinner so late? I have heard that they have dinner around 10pm and it only took one day to understand. The sun doesn’t even set until about 930pm so at 10pm you are catching the sunset. It is such a wonderful experience. We spent most of the first day there in Barcelona’s most eastern area. On day 2 we visited the northern city where you will find many of famous architect Antoni Gaudí homes whose facades he designed. Here is one of my favorites.
If you are in the mood for top-notch shopping Avinguda Diagonal or The Portal de l’Àngel,just off Placa de Catalunya, is lined with an endless array of shops selling the most exclusive brands of clothing and accessories. I headed to Spanish companies like ZARA to take advantage of lower prices than in the states. Yes I saved my receipt and so should you if you spend a lot then before exiting Spain you can get reimbursed on your sales taxes. (hit-hint).
Our 3rd day there we dedicated to visiting la Sagrada Família basicilia. I recommend waking up super early to beat the crowds. At first sight this building is so impressive. The scale of it compared to the smaller buildings surrounding it make it look massive! And it is! I highly recommend getting a tour guide to teach you the history and explanations and hidden meanings this building has. Our tour guide was excellent! They are still doing construction to it and it is scheduled to be completed in 2026. I guess I will have to make a return trip there to admire the beauty.
Afterwards, we spent the later morning at Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. The views are spectacular! Again, highly recommend a guide because the park has so much history and meaning behind all of Gaudís’ work. You have to sit at the worlds longest bench. Its agronomic design truly helps your back and feels incredibly comfortable! We finished this day with heading towards the International Expo and Olympic park area.
In general food in Spain is jamon, jamon, jamon, paella, fried foods and umm more fried foods. In my opinion not the best, but my oh my the wine! Loved EVERY wine I tried. I had high end expensive bottles and budget friendly ones and all were tasty and smooth.
If you are only there for a few ours as part of a cruise ships stop…good luck being able to experience and view all that Barcelona has to offer. It is impossible! Not even my 3 days there were enough, but better than no days. To live how the Spaniards live. To relax and enjoy lunch for 2 hours. To drink, eat and be marry! That is what Spaniards do best and that is what Barcelona showed me.