Barcelona: Our city of dreams!

I started this post with the intent of following the normal layout: what we did day-to-day, and then add some pics for fun. Then, I realized it would be the world’s longest post as there was just SO MUCH that we loved and it would be hard to trim down the content. Because of that, you’re getting our Top 10 reasons to visit Barcelona; maybe I can keep commentary below 1000 words.

So, in no particular order:
1. & 2. Art and Architecture. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. This place is paradise for someone that loves art and architecture. Most of the art/architecture in our pictures was designed & built by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). (Look him up…he’s a creative genius!)

La Rambla: Performance street artist--he stayed completely still until someone dropped a coin into a protected slot. Then he did a precise number of movements that had him end up sitting in the exact same spot.  There were quite a few of these artists along La Rambla, and they were all so impressive.

La Rambla: Performance street artist–he stayed completely still until someone dropped a coin into a protected slot. Then he did a precise number of movements that had him end up sitting in the exact same spot. There were quite a few of these artists along La Rambla, and they were all so impressive.

Casa Batllo: Looking down the internal light-well.

Casa Batllo: Looking down the internal light-well.

Casa Batllo: The patio and rear facade.

Casa Batllo: The patio and rear facade.

Casa Batllo: The front of the house. Given the nickname of "House of Bones".

Casa Batllo: The front of the house. Given the nickname of “House of Bones”.

Casa Batllo: Sarah enjoyed looking down at the people on the sidewalk from the main drawing room. Basically she photo-bombed alot of people taking pictures of the house!

Casa Batllo: Sarah enjoyed looking down at the people on the sidewalk from the main drawing room. Basically she photo-bombed alot of people taking pictures of the house!

Casa Batllo: Looking down one of the Attic halls. Was meant to give the sensation of the skeleton of a large animal.

Casa Batllo: Looking down one of the Attic halls. Was meant to give the sensation of the skeleton of a large animal.

There was SO MUCH graffiti all over the place, that I began taking photos of the security doors that looked pretty cool. Another form of 'art' throughout Barcelona.

There was SO MUCH graffiti all over the place, that I began taking photos of the security doors that looked pretty cool. Another form of ‘art’ throughout Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia: The super-steep, Spiral Staircase found in one of the towers. Normally closed to the public, I was able to take them down after going up in the gallery. No railing at all, so it was a little scary, but so worth it!

Sagrada Familia: The super-steep, Spiral Staircase found in one of the towers. Normally closed to the public, I was able to take them down after going up in the gallery. No railing at all, so it was a little scary, but so worth it!

Sagrada Familia: The brass doors on the Passion Facade of the church. There were 4 of these doors total.

Sagrada Familia: The brass doors on the Passion Facade of the church. There were 4 of these doors total.

Sagrada Familia: The stained glass allowing the light to come in down the southeast side of the Nave. The Northeast side had orange, red and yellow stained glass.

Sagrada Familia: The stained glass allowing the light to come in down the southeast side of the Nave. The Northeast side had orange, red and yellow stained glass.

Sagrada Familia: Looking up to the ceiling of the nave. It's supported by a 'forest' of fluted pillars, made to look like trees.

Sagrada Familia: Looking up to the ceiling of the nave. It’s supported by a ‘forest’ of fluted pillars, made to look like trees.

Sagrada Familia: The northern entrance, also known as the Nativity Facade. The 3 doors on this side are dedicated to Faith, Hope and Charity.

Sagrada Familia: The northern entrance, also known as the Nativity Facade. The 3 doors on this side are dedicated to Faith, Hope and Charity.

Arc del Triomf: Was used as the main gateway to the 1888 Universal Exhibition.

Arc del Triomf: Was used as the main gateway to the 1888 Universal Exhibition.

3. Open spaces to run around. So, this is more a Sarah favorite. We learned our lesson from our Munich trip and to keep from having some major meltdowns, we specifically made time each day for Sarah to run and play. There were quite a few parks that we had to choose from, as well as open squares that were pretty safe for a running toddler. We noticed that parents here were a little more at ease with their kids straying from them. There were a couple of times that we found ourselves looking for parents of little kids that wandered near us. I think as Americans, we were not used to this, but I’m sure it’s very liberating for a little one to have that freedom. (That’s not to say we’ll do it though! This momma is a little too protective.)

Parc de la Ciutadella: Once home to a citadel in 1715, it was turned into a park in 1878. Sarah loved the boat lake, the playground (of course), and being able to run around being loud!

Parc de la Ciutadella: Once home to a citadel in 1715, it was turned into a park in 1878. Sarah loved the boat lake, the playground (of course), and being able to run around being loud!

Parc de la Ciutadella: Sarah thought this was 'so scary' at first and asked what it was; after a short explanation, she was game for sitting on the trunk!

Parc de la Ciutadella: Sarah thought this was ‘so scary’ at first and asked what it was; after a short explanation, she was game for sitting on the trunk!

4. The food was A-Ma-Zing! We tried everything we could, from paella to roast chicken, tapas to pizza. Fortunately, Barcelona is smoke-free inside restaurants. Unfortunately, outdoor seating is not, and people do not care if you have a small child with you or not. We tried sitting outside at a couple of places, and had people chain-smoking beside us. It was a lot off-putting, but we learned our lesson and chose to eat at odd times, or inside. We found our favorite meals were at places off the beaten path.

Mercat de Sant Joseph or La Boqueria: Barcelona's most colorful food market. Located just off of La Rambla (and minutes from our apartment!) This was one of the candy stalls.

Mercat de Sant Joseph or La Boqueria: Barcelona’s most colorful food market. Located just off of La Rambla (and minutes from our apartment!) This was one of the candy stalls.

La Boqueria: Shopping for some sausages to bring home.

La Boqueria: Shopping for some sausages to bring home.

La Boqueria: Fish Stall. Actually saw some marine life that I had never seen up close before!

La Boqueria: Fish Stall. Actually saw some marine life that I had never seen up close before!

5. They LOVE children! Sarah was constantly being touched or patted by strangers (though, not in a scary, creepy way.) They would launch into a full on discussion with her and she would reply with ‘Hola’ and ‘Barcelona’. She was a hit with the locals–especially the elderly.

Sagrada Familia: I love this photo. She was happy to be able to walk (and dance) around and the stained glass in the windows looked amazing!

Sagrada Familia: I love this photo. She was happy to be able to walk (and dance) around and the stained glass in the windows looked amazing!

6. Our apartment. Since we were going to be there for 5 days, we chose to rent an apartment. It was cheaper than a hotel and with Sarah in tow, we felt it would be nice for her to have the run of the place and not have to be quiet at all times, for fear of bothering people through paper-thin walls. Also, to have a fully stocked kitchen at our disposal guaranteed at least one meal a day made at home…and cold milk at Sarah’s disposal. We were fortunate in our apartment choice in that it had a 24 hour grocery right next door and was a 1-3 minute walk to a subway entrance, a pier, La Ramble (a historically popular tourist destination), an open square that was great for running off some energy, and multiple shops and eateries. Other than a little bit of an off-putting smell coming from the bathroom sink, this place was perfect!

Monument a Colom, aka, Columbus. It marks the spot where Columbus stepped ashore from his 1493 voyage to the Caribbean. (The locals considered him one their own, as opposed to an Italian.)

Monument a Colom, aka, Columbus. It marks the spot where Columbus stepped ashore from his 1493 voyage to the Caribbean. (The locals considered him one their own, as opposed to an Italian.)

Port de Barcelona

Port de Barcelona

7. Going in November was perfect for us. Apparently it isn’t as crowded with tourists. The longest we waited for anything was about 20 minutes to get tickets for Sagrada Familia (which was worth the wait on so many levels!!) Everything else was pretty much walk in and go…including food.

8. Another plus for November is the weather. In the 5 days we were there, we had rain only once. It was sunny and in the low 60’s during the day and cool during the evenings. So, unless you’re wanting to go to Barcelona for the beaches, this is a great time of year to go. The one downside is that we had to pack for layers, but it wasn’t too bad since we’re used to that now. HA!

9. No sense of urgency. We never felt rushed to do anything. And because of that we were able to do and really enjoy almost everything on our list. We all slept in, took our time with everything we did, ate meals off schedule, and even went to bed off-schedule (Gasp!! I don’t think she was in bed before 9:00 any night we were there!) The locals have multiple meals throughout the day, with a really late tapas and wine meal anytime after 9:00, so we tried to go with the flow. Granted, eating that late for us was not going to happen, but still being out and about after 8:00pm was a huge deal!

Sitges: A beach town that we stayed at for one night. We got to see locals surfing and enjoy some really good food!

Sitges: A beach town that we stayed at for one night. We got to see locals surfing and enjoy some really good food!

Running around on a quiet pier.

Running around on a quiet pier.

Montjuic: The fountains in front of the Palau Nacional (houses an art museaum.) The fountain at the foot of this hill, Font Magica, puts on a music and light show as darkness falls. We were able to catch one of the shows.

Montjuic: The fountains in front of the Palau Nacional (houses an art museaum.) The fountain at the foot of this hill, Font Magica, puts on a music and light show as darkness falls. We were able to catch one of the shows.

10. Complete strangers were so nice to us…and very worried about our security. I had different people come up to me and tell me to ‘watch’ my camera around my neck and the backpack on our back. Fortunately we never had an issue, so I felt we looked ‘intimidating’ enough. Seriously though, apparently pick-pocketing is an issue in Barcelona, but with the little one in tow, we weren’t really in the types of environments that promote that. We felt safe the whole time we were there, but we were also a little more aware of our surroundings than normal too.

And finally, one to grow on,
11. Basically, if given the chance, you should just go.

Last night in Barcelona! Walking home from dinner down La Rambla.

Last night in Barcelona! Walking home from dinner down La Rambla.

PS- on a totally different note, this was the first time that Sarah had to have her own seat on one of the budget airlines. She’s 2! What 2-year-old is going to sit calmly in an airplane seat? Well, not ours! We really didn’t want to take her bulky car seat since we wouldn’t need it, so we researched our options. We eventually found a travel seat/backpack by Trunki and it was a life saver. She used it on the plane and in cabs (and it could also be used in restaurants as a booster seat.) So, for you parents out there that will be traveling with little ones, look this thing up!

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4 Responses to Barcelona: Our city of dreams!

  1. Kris says:

    I want to go to there!

  2. Debbie O'Neal says:

    Breathtaking photos. I am so happy you, Matt and Sarah have had this opportunity to see many beautiful sights. We love you and miss yu every day.

  3. Alex Rehme says:

    Looks like a blast, you are visiting and enjoying places I regretfully drank my way through and didn’t enjoy the culture unless she was cute. Oops, give our love to Sarah and your two too

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