A city ruled by the friendly people, beautiful architecture and incredible cuisine, Barcelona is a hotspot for any Spanish vacation; though Spanish isn’t exactly spoken in Barcelona. That was our first realization as my family attempted to chat up our cab driver from the airport. We learned that the natives speak Catalan, a language that sounds similar to Spanish but is geographically unique to this region of Spain. Just as Barca is unique in its language, so it is unique in its welcoming atmosphere and wealth of cultural attractions.
Extremely jet-lagged, my family’s first request when landing in Barcelona was coffee. We were lucky to find a cute little bakery near our hotel that featured the classics: café con leche and chocolate croissants. Once we were properly rejuvenated, we spent the day exploring the city.
Awed with the architectural beauties around every corner, we meandered down to the Museu Picasso. A must-see, this museum hosts one of the most extensive collection of Picasso’s work and focuses on his particular relationship with the city of Barcelona. We were bummed we couldn’t take pictures but nonetheless in awe of the variety and quality of art on display.
Over the next few days, my family tried to avoid being too touristy, but we still felt the need to experience everything that Barcelona has to offer, especially in terms of food. We stuffed ourselves with paella, tapas and a lot of churros con chocolate. Having never really had authentic Spanish food, I am now absolutely smitten. My mom and I are now avidly searching for a recipe for Spanish hot chocolate.
Even though I would have been happy to just eat for the entire trip, we did end up seeing some cool things. Visible from nearly every corner of the city, Barcelona’s crowning glory is the Sagrada Família. Though it was slightly difficult to get tickets because of crowd control policies, once we were able to enter the basilica, the hassle was well worth it.
We went up one of the towers on the side of the Passion Facade which hosted stunning views of the city. An audio tour guided us through the nature-inspired basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí that is still being constructed today. I was amazed by the differing architectural styles evident in the two facades on either side of the building, and we were definitely kicked out by security because we stayed past closing — whoops.
Gaudí’s architecture definitely rules the city. We also visited the Park Güell, an intended residential development that is known for its unbelievable mosaic architecture. Having seen a picture of “that one gecko fountain,” my dad was determined to explore the entire park and photograph every inch of it. Thank goodness for his persistence because without it, we might not have been able to see all of the incredible ceilings, walls, benches and views. A beautiful place to visit and photograph, this park was one of my favorite places in Barcelona.
Our trip would not have been complete without the traditional Flamenco show we saw at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes Barcelona on the jam packed Las Ramblas. Perfect for American tourists, this show came complete with a “traditional” Spanish dinner (definitely not the highlight of the night), free flowing sangria and champagne and, of course, the dancing. Full of taps, snaps and drama, Flamenco is a Barcelona staple, and seeing it live was unforgettable.
Barcelona is the place to visit if you’re looking for breathtaking views, art and all the perks of a city with a laid-back vibe. If for nothing else, I would go back for the paella.
Contact Gillian Perry at [email protected].