We said goodbye to Venice at 4 am, standing at the end of a desolate street waiting for our water taxi to pick us up. Nothing like waving good bye to Italy as you speed off in a boat. 4 am was worth the wake-up call, Spain was calling our names!
In one word, Barcelona is unparalleled. It's everything in one: a coastal oasis, haven of architectural treasures, a historical refuge surrounded by mountains, and a shopping mecca. It has both the bustling districts and the calm neighborhood feel, all of which is kept meticulously clean. I've never seen a cleaner city! 99% of the buildings look like you are walking down 5th avenue, with exquisite detail, colorful flowers, large windows and beautifully sculpted terraces.
Not to mention the tapas! Love me some tapas!
We spent 4 days here, soaking up as much of the city as possible. We walked around to the point of exhaustion, sometimes realizing that things were much further than we anticipated. We had walked so much on this trip, that we shamelessly ended up using more taxis in Barcelona than anywhere else.
Since Barcelona feels like two different cities from the beach to the city streets, it's appropriate to give them both the attention they deserve. In other words, this is a long post :)
Let's start with the streets:
What's so fun about this city is there are gems on every corner.
Specifically, the 'gems' of Antonio Gaudi, the famous architect who can be credited with giving us the word "gaudi." If you could picture the craziest, out-of-this-world designs, than you have just skimmed the surface of his style.
For example, Casa Batllo, which sits between fancier buildings in a shopping district, resembles fish scales with terraces shaped as masks and an entrance that appears to be the mouth of a large fish. Confused? Understandable.
Or Casa Mila, which sits a few streets up from Casa Batlla, has gothic appeal with curved walls and chimneys shaped as abstract people.
Park Guell, also designed by Gaudi, was an uphill battle of a walk, we made it! It somewhat resembles Alice in Wonderland with the colorful mosaic tiles that cover every inch of the buildings and walkways.
Despite the somewhat confusing designs, it's hard to escape Barcelona without a deep appreciation for Gaudi's work.
Oh the views!!
My favorite of his work left me speechless, La Sagrada Familia. Truly, one of the most remarkable places I've ever seen. All of the preconceived notions I had about this building, La Sagrada far surpassed.
I'd go back to Barcelona just to see it in its completion (expected around 2040.) I'd encourage you to read about the church, it will blow you away. (I can feel the theology nerd rising up in me!)
There is something so unique about this building, and not only because of the daring architecture, but the thought that went into every single aspect of it when it started to be built in 1882. The gospel is proclaimed in sculptures on one side, the story of Jesus' life is sculpted on the other, the name of Jesus carved out in hundreds of different languages as you enter through the large doors, the top of towers carrying sculptures of different food to represent the last supper, the (to be built) 18 towers to represent 12 apostles, 4 evangelists, Jesus and Mary, the windows at different angels to shine light at specific times of day on the alter, and the list continues. La Sagrada Familia is a physical representation of the Bible. Even if you aren't a religious person, it's impossible to not be struck by this place.
We bought tickets in advance for the first tour of the day = best decision of the trip! We went up to one of the towers (not for the fearful!!) and did the audio tour. As dorky as it was to walk around with a headset, we would not have been able to appreciate all of the history and details behind every piece of the church.
Then comes the beach!
Everyone warns you about Barcelona being a hot bed of pickpocketing (especially at the beach), so we had to be extra-aware of our surroundings. Proud to report that although we were followed a few times, we never had an incident. Except one kid grabbing my hip in an attempt to swipe my ipod during a morning run on the boardwalk, but the ipod happened to be on my other hip, which made him run a lot faster and me scream a lot louder.
I celebrated my 28th birthday in Barcelona, which was definitely one for the record books! Kelly and I had this brilliant idea of booking a party sailboat for my big day. Let's just say we were totally naive as to what that entailed, but we survived and had a few good laughs along the way!
This is one of those "I feel as if I must post a birthday celebration picture," but somehow they all turned out uber awkard. Here's the least among the awkward scale.
For more posts from recent travel adventures:
Our Irish Roadtrip