Well, the laundry is still not all done, but I’m going to call it a wrap and share my top 10 list now that I am home from my trip. Here are the top 10 things I learned about beautiful Barcelona, Spain:
10. Balconies – they have glorious balconies in Barcelona. The architecture of the city is really quite wonderful, with different styles of architecture coming together to form one big, beautiful Barcelona. Everything from modern, to Gaudi, medieval to Romanesque is represented and it all comes out to play on the wonderful balconies that fill the city. One could walk around and just enjoy the balconies, although the coffee and baked goods would probably lure you inside at some point.
9. Gothic Quarter – they have a Gothic Quarter which is the old section, actually the city center, and it is a really wonderful part of the city, with narrow streets, very walkable and a great place to explore. At one point, I got lost in the Gothic Quarter. Not “lost” in the true sense of the word, more like “lost” as in I didn’t want to be found. It’s that kind of place.
8. Las Ramblas (or La Rambla) – known by either name, this is a pedestrian area, a street that cuts though downtown Barcelona. It used to be a street for cars, now it’s blocked off in many spots and has only foot traffic. If you walk all the way, it will take you from the plaza and Gothic Quarter all the way down to the shore, actually a spot marked by a statue of Christopher Columbus (he set sail from Spain and they wished him well, remembering him with a statue in Barcelona, at the end of La(s) Rambla(s) facing the sea.) The statue commemorates the site where he publicly announced his discovery of America. (Thanks for that, by the way!)
7. Vermouth, Gin and Tonics, and a lot of wine – the locals drink a mixture of things. If you were following me on social media, you probably know that my nightcap of choice was actually a gin and tonic. Made with Puerto de Indias, a pink gin, and Schweppes Tonica flavored with lemon, these were totally refreshing, light, and a wonderful nightcap of choice. There are also Vermouth bars and a lot of wine in Spain so you can really take you pick for a beverage of choice here. I have to say Barcelona featured some good drinks all around.
6. Catalan vs Spanish – before leaving, I was all prepared. I was told, “they speak Catalan first, Spanish second, and English third.” I was expecting to not be able to speak Catalan at all, maybe speak a little bit of Spanish, and hope to find some English speakers. Turned out my Spanish is not so bad and the Catalan they speak in Barcelona sounded a lot like Spanish, it really wasn’t that hard to speak given that I speak and understand some Spanish. If you are headed to Barcelona and you want to speak like a local, learn Spanish, you are probably better off doing that, as it goes a long way. Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, and Catalonia, if it were a separate country, would include parts of France, Spain and Andorra. Barcelona is located 90 miles south of the border between France and Spain and sits relatively close to Andorra.
5. The giant Squid – seafood rules in Barcelona, as it’s right near the ocean and, yes, octopus is on the menu a lot. While I did not opt for any tentacles, I did manage to have some fish here and there. There was not a lot of chicken on the menu, mostly beef and seafood, although the tapas allow you to pick a little bit of each and enjoy.
4. Mushrooms are magical – mushrooms? In Barcelona? Yes, mushrooms in Barcelona! Turns out Barcelona is very near the mountains (closer to the sea but not too far from the mountains too) and in the nearby mountains there are a lot of mushrooms. If somebody offers you mushrooms in Barcelona, take them up on it. They’re great! I had a baked mushroom dish that was so delicious, I didn’t bother to get a photo of it. So sorry, all I have is a picture of an empty dish because I ate all of the magical mushrooms before even stopping to take a photo (and you know I take photos of just about everything.) Yeah, mushrooms are a thing in Barcelona. A very, very good thing!
3. The four corners of Barcelona City Streets – back to the architecture for this one, but a lot of the streets (when I say, “a lot” here I mean almost all) have clipped corners. The result? Street corners in Barcelona are octagonal. They say it makes for better air circulation. The city planers in the days of old opted for long narrow streets with clipped corners and a nice grid layout. The result? To this day, a very walkable city and it makes it easier to see around the corners, plus a lot easier to cross the street (just watch out for scooters and bicycles, as they do not always stop for lights and navigate quite fast around the clipped corners.)
2. Las Arenas – Barcelona used to be home to a famed bullring, where they used to have bullfighting in the center of the city. All well and good but times and people change. These days, bullfighting is outlawed in Barcelona (not in all of Spain but in Barcelona is not held any longer) and so this left the city with a bit of a dilemma. What to do with the old bullring? Enter the modern and “easy” solution. They turned it into a shopping mall and “viewpoint” with a park on the roof. The park allows you to see all around the city and offers up some fantastic views of the town. I made it up to the top and had lunch, as there are many great restaurants up there. Great architecture and a great place to visit, even though I do not much care for shopping centers, this one is worth the trip. The views up top are wonderful and here’s a pro tip. You can ride the escalators inside the building for free up to the park on top to enjoy the magnificent views.
First runner up – Tibidabo – high atop a hillside on the edge of the city is a place called Tibidabo. Here you’ll find a church atop a hill, as you might expect, but you’ll also find an amusement park, complete with rides, a ferris wheel, and lots of adventures for the kids (and young at heart.) I got to enjoy a day up here and have to say it was wonderful, with great views and a fun carnival atmosphere.
And my top, number 1 from Barcelona, Spain is – The work of famed architect Gaudi – One of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona is the Gaudi designed cathedral called “Sagrada Familia” (or “Holy Family.”) Construction on this building started in 1882 and is currently expected to be completed in 2026. While visiting Barcelona, I got to see the building. It’s an incredible work of architecture and well worth a visit. I got to see several Gaudi designed structures as part of my trip and they did not disappoint. I highly recommend visiting any Gaudi architecture should you find yourself in Barcelona.
- The graffiti and street art in Barcelona is really very interesting. I managed to photograph a lot of this while walking around and I have to say it left an impression on me.
- Case Batllo – or the “House of Bones” another Gaudi masterpiece, sits in an area they locals call the “block of discord.” This building is actually a remodel and was located walking distance to my hotel. It was well worth the visit, especially since there is a cafe tucked just inside, where you can sit and enjoy a treat, even sit outside, in the private courtyard and enjoy a view of the structure.
- Park Guell – I spent the day at this Gaudi gem and really enjoyed my time here, learning a lot about viaducts, mosaic tile, columns, and a host of other architectural elements that made Gaudi both a famed architect and a great artist.
- Tapas – Spanish tapas or small serving meals are a thing here. They have a lot of what I would call bruschetta but they don’t call it that since it’s not Italy. “Pan con tomato” is the name here and it’s a tasty treat. The baked goods and coffee were wonderful along my journey as well.
To answer the pressing question, “would I go back to Barcelona again?” You bet your sweet Gaudi I would, and I’d only stop for a gin and tonic along the way. Adios!
Until next time…