Barcelona!

Andrew and I decided to take a small trip to Barcelona at the end of October.

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This was our first “holiday” outside of France, so we were very excited.  We tried two new travel options this time (EasyJet and AirBNB) and both proved to be very good – more details later.

The day we left for Barcelona we decided to take the RER to the airport.  After two stops the train stopped with no explanation as to what was going on.  We got off the train and Andrew went to find out some details.  Come to find out there was a problem on the track and since we didn’t have time to reroute we opted to take a taxi (which is much more expensive).  Word to the wise, leave earlier so that you have plenty of time to reroute if necessary.

At the airport, EasyJet really was “easy” to get through security and onto the plane.  The only catch is that they only allow you one (small) carry-on per passenger.  This does not mean one small suitcase and your purse.  They are very strict and will make you pay to check the second bag.  Thank goodness I had talked to a friend about this beforehand so we were well aware of the strict policy.  Andrew and I decided to just take backpacks for this trip.  He said to me before we left, “Does this count as backpacking through Europe?”

There was this guy at the airport playing the piano.  Not too bad to listen to while waiting for your flight.

Click here to be serenaded.

Also, one more note about EasyJet is that they do not provide free snacks onboard – you have to pay for everything (that is how they keep the fare so cheap).

Once we arrived in Barcelona we took the RENFE (train) to our apartment.  You can buy a ticket with 10 rides at one of the kiosks.  That is all we used our entire trip.  The metro system in Barcelona was pretty nice and easy to use.  Besides the metro, we walked everywhere we went.

Our apartment was located in the El Born area along the Passeig del Born street (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/192328).  Our room pretty much looked exactly as expected and we had Elvis watching over us.

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I had read all of the reviews online so I knew that the area would probably be noisy so we were prepared for that.  Despite that we did like where we stayed even though it was noisy (sometimes until 2am) and the bed wasn’t the most comfortable.  It was a very good location close to everything and there was this cool church/basilica right next door (Santa Maria).  I discovered that if you have a couple drinks at dinner, you can sleep better at night no matter how noisy or uncomfortable the bed.  Side note, this picture was in the common area of the apartment – pretty cool.

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On our first night in Barcelona we went to dinner at La Taverna del Clinic.  This place was recommended by a guy Andrew works with.  We walked there from our apartment.  It was nice to walk through the city to get a feel for the area.  The food was pretty good, but a little expensive.

9_La Taverna del Clinic

On our way back to the apartment we saw this street performer.  It was hilarious!

9_This Guy

Check out the videos too:

Video 1

Video 2

The next day we had breakfast at one of the bakeries (La Colmena).  All of the treats looked pretty tasty.  Our favorite item was the cream filled pastry.

10_La Colmena

After fueling up with breakfast, we headed to “hop on” the bus tour.  We decided to take the “hop on, hop off” bus tour so that we could take our time seeing some of the sites.  The company we used was called Barcelona City Tour.

11_Barcelona City Tour

If we learned anything from the audio tour, it was that Antoni Gaudi (the famous architect) was killed by a tram in 1926 (they repeat it at least 3 times).

We hopped off at this location (Jardins de Miramar) for a view of the city…

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A tour of this cactus garden…

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And a small snack.

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Our next hop off point was at Plaça Pius XII.  We walked up to see Monastir de Pedralbes.

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Then we finally found the dragon gate at Pavellons Güell.  So cool!

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30_Bus Tour_Dragon Gate

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That night we had dinner at Cal Pep (thanks to our friends for recommending this place)!  This was such a fun experience.  We got in line just in time so we didn’t have to wait for a place to sit.  We sat at the bar and our experience went something like this:

Waiter:  “What do you want?”

Andrew:  “Anything I guess.”

Waiter:  “Do you have any food allergies or dislike any type of food?  Seafood is okay for you?”

Andrew:  “Yes, yes.”

Waiter:  “Dinosaur?”

Andrew:  “If you have dinosaur back there, I will definitely try it.”

These are pictures of all the dishes we tried that night.

38_Cal Pep

By the end of it, we were so full.  The waiter came up and told us, “Hey, you need to make room for one more dish.  The dinosaur is next.”  Definitely recommend Cal Pep for a good, fun experience.  Beware though, the tickets add up quickly and can make for an expensive meal especially if you are drinking (as we were), but it is worth it!

On Thursday, we set off to visit Sagrada Familia (one of Antoni Gaudi’s visions, even though he only completed 15% of it before his death in 1926).  Before heading into the basilica, we stopped off at Gaudi Café for breakfast…and it was a breakfast of champions.  Carrot cake and banana shake included!

39_Gaudi Bakery

We purchased our tickets to Sagrada Familia in advance and I definitely recommend everyone who plans to visit to do the same.  The line for tickets was so long and there is no guarantee that you will get in the same day.  Actually buying tickets in advance for all attractions that you know you will visit is a good idea (we did so for all on our trip).

We entered the basilica and browsed around for a bit before our group tour started.  The tour guide was great and definitely recommend it over the audio tour (even though I have never done it), because sometimes it is just nice to have an actual person show you around especially if you have questions.

39_Sagrada Família

The basilica is beautiful and so unique!  Gaudi wanted to have a place of worship that is full of light and also one that shows the message of Christianity on the inside and the outside of the church.

Here are some pictures of scenes on the outside.

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The inside of the basilica looks like a forest with tall trees and leaves at the top with the sun peeking through the large windows.

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The windows are colored stained glass that show the colors of the sky at the beginning of the day all the way around to when the sun sets.  This will be so beautiful once they are finished with the project.

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This was my favorite door at the basilica.  It depicts all of the temptations that Jesus endured during his 40 days in the desert.

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One could spend a lot of time examining all of the details on this door.

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This was another door that was pretty cool.  I like to call it the living door.  I think you can see why.

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There are so many details that I am leaving out, but you will just have to come and see for yourself.

After the tour we took the lift up to the Nativity Tower of the basilica.  We got a good view up there and then had to descend down the windy stairwell.

90_Sagrada Família_Up The Tower 91_Sagrada Família_Up The Tower 92_Sagrada Família_Up The Tower 94_Sagrada Família_Down The Tower

When we were up in the tower we noticed a park across from the basilica that we didn’t know was there.

88_Sagrada Família_Up The Tower

We ventured across the street and got a good picture of the basilica from there.

96_Sagrada Família_Across The Street

On our walk back to the apartment we stumbled across the Arc de Triumph.

98_Arc de Triomf 99_Arc de Triomf 100_Arc de Triomf 101_Arc de Triomf

We had a quick lunch at La Taverna del Born.

106_La Taverna del Born

Then we walked down to the beach that night for a bit.

This is the fish sculpture by Frank Gehry.  This is a symbol of post-Olympic Barcelona.

107_Fish Statue

And we came across this guy playing music.  He was pretty good!

108_Live Entertainment

Beautiful sunset…

274_Bike Ride

That night we popped into the basilica (Santa Maria Del Mar) next door.  I love the gothic style.

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117_Santa Maria 119_Santa Maria

 120_Santa Maria 118_Santa Maria

Afterwards we had dinner at Origens (a recommendation from the guy that checked us into the apartment).  It was a good deal for the food, but it was just okay in my opinion.  I liked the setup of the restaurant and the menus are very informative about the typical cuisine found in the area.

109_Origens

Friday morning we finally made our way over to the La Boqueria market.

122_La Boqueria

It is so huge and extremely fantastic!  We wandered around there for a while looking at all they had to offer.

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We sampled some of the juices, candy, and ice cream.

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For lunch we sat down and had some vegetables and octopus.

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This place is so cool and should be on everyone’s list to visit!  I wish we had gone there more than just one day.

After the market we walked down La Ramblas to see the street performers.

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Then we hopped on the metro and travelled to Park Güell.  It is up up up to the park!

160_The Climb Up to Park Guell

Definitely got a workout walking from the metro station up to the park.  The park was pretty neat, but there were way too many tourists!

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You could see the amusement park up on the hill.  Looks like a creepy, fun place in this picture.  I’m sure it is probably not creepy though…right?

164_Amusement Park on the Hill

There were lots of opportunities to hear live music in the park.

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The famous benches!

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More pictures of Park Güell.

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On Halloween night we were walking past the basilica next to our apartment and noticed two groups of people dressed up like goblins.  We decided to hang around to see what would happen.  And this is what the result was…

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They marched through the streets with lit sparklers and the percussion banged on their drums to let everyone know what was headed their way.  This was such a cool experience!  Glad that we were able to catch it!  I tried to look up info online about the history or significance of the parade, but could find nothing.  Check out this video of the finale!

Halloween Parade Video

Barcelona was pretty festive for Halloween.  These are some of the decorations we spotted around town.

111_Walking Around 115_Halloween Decorations

114_Halloween Decorations 116_Halloween Decorations

On our last day in Barcelona, we visited the bakery again.

216_Breakfast

And then we walked over to see inside the Barcelona Cathedral.  They were having a small service when we went inside.  Here are some of the pics I took.

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We also spotted this neat artwork outside the Museu Picasso by Julio Nieto.

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219_Art Work_Julio Nieto

Our last major tourist attraction was Casa Batlló, another work by Gaudi.  We decided to do the enhanced video tour (it is worth the extra 3 euros so just do it).  It is such a beautiful building that was well ahead of the time.

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Cute benches along this street 🙂

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262_Cool Bench

I like to take pictures of the sidewalk.

25_Bus Tour

And even more nice music.  This happened to be outside the Barcelona Cathedral when we walked by again later in the day.  Do you recognize the tune??  I am sorry that I only recorded a little bit of the song.

Click here to listen.

Saturday afternoon we took bikes out to the beach.

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271_Bike Ride

After we returned the bikes, we went for a walk.  There was this kid dressed up as a monster.  He or she was screaming at people as they went by to scare them.  When he got to me, I looked at him and put my hands on his shoulders and screamed and then he screamed.  We had a special moment.  Then Andrew and I bought some roasted chestnuts from a vendor to eat.  It is tradition to eat them during this time of year.

That night we ended with dinner at this place (the name has slipped my mind).

277_Last night dinner

Barcelona was a pretty cool city and we both had a good time.  There are so many opportunities to spot neat architecture.

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265_Architecture 267_Architecture

On the plane ride home, I was flipping through the airline magazine that they provide.  As I was reading I was thinking to myself how cool it would be for Andrew’s restaurant (Frame Brasserie) to be featured in the magazine since this airline travels to and from Paris. Upon further inspection, I realized that they were! Wow!

278_Plane Ride Home

If you don’t have it on your list I would definitely add it.  There is something there for everyone.  Plus if you get tired of the city, take a day trip outside somewhere.  If we ever end up back over that way, we will explore more of the surrounding area.  Your turn, what adventures have you been on recently?

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