Cole and I were ready to make another big trip overseas. We had been trying to make it to Dublin for awhile so we thought it would be the perfect next city to visit. As I was driving to the airport from work, Cole called me and informed me that the flights were not looking so good anymore. Unfortunately, most of the flights for Europe had already left so we would have to come up with a different city to visit. I was disappointed, but knew this was all part of the deal, so we decided we would find a different city to visit once we got to the airport. We quickly got through security in the International Terminal and Cole ran up to the gate for the second to last departing flight for Europe, Barcelona. As luck would have it, they were literally printing the final paperwork and about to shut the door, but had two spots left for us. We quickly scratched our Dublin plans and boarded the flight for Barcelona.
We landed in Barcelona on Saturday morning and took a bus into downtown since they don’t have a metro out by the airport. The bus dropped us off in the downtown city center, but since we didn’t plan to spend the weekend in Barcelona, we had no hotel to drop our luggage off at. Fortunately, wifi is everywhere in the city, so as we were standing in a little square in the middle of the city, we were able to quickly find a Four Points by Sheraton , which was really reasonably priced and booked it. The hotel was located in the Glories neighborhood, the business district of Barcelona. It was right off the main road, Avenida Diagonal, so it was easily accessible by the metro so it was perfect.
We made our way back into the city and started exploring by checking out the historic old part of town where the beautiful, gothic Barcelona Cathedral (also known as Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia) is located. We then strolled along La Rambla, this gorgeous tree lined street with a large sidewalk right down the center. We walked in and out of shops and alleys along La Rambla and stopped into the public market, La Boqueria, boasting hundreds of individual stands all selling fresh food and specialty drinks. We also stopped into Placa Reial (Royal Plaza), We picked up some bocadillos (basically a sub sandwhich) for lunch and then headed down to the port and beaches. The Spanish architecture of the buildings along the water were absolutely stunning.
We stopped by the beach to dip our toes in the Mediterranean water – we didn’t bring bathing suits since we wouldn’t need those in Dublin! I couldn’t believe how many people were packed into such a small area of sand so I decided to take photos to show how busy it was. However, me being the dumb American tourist, I didn’t even realize most of the women were topless until 10 minutes later. I am sure they were not pleased with some tourist taking photos of them topless, but oh well.
There were restaurants and bars all along the beach so we decided to stop at one for some sangria and beer while enjoying the view of the Mediterranean. Afterwards, we headed over to Guell Park to see some of the famous Gaudi architecture. For those of you who may not be too familiar, Gaudi was a famous Spanish architect who designed many of the unique buildings in Barcelona. Guell Park highlights his creative architectural flair and talent.
The park sits on top of one of the steepest hills I’ve ever had to walk up – they even installed an outdoor escalator at the steepest part. By the time we made it to the top and into the park, we were both gasping for breath and sweating, but the view from the top looking down over the city and out to the ocean was worth it. We explored the very crowded park and appreciated the unique and quirky art that Guadi had built in this wonderful city.
We went back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner and decided to explore the area around it. We stumbled upon another “rambla”, however, this time the street had much more of a local vibe full of quaint cafes that spilled onto the sidewalks. We stopped for some drinks and more people watching and then walked down to the water and walk back into town. We passed by Port Olimpic (Olympic Port), a marina full of restaurants that was originally built for the sailing events for the 1992 summer Olympics. One of Cole’s colleagues told him about this American bar called Dow Jones that we wanted to check out. The prices of the drinks fluctuate based on demand and they have stock market crashes (aka drinks heavily discounted). It was a cool concept but since it was only 10, it wasn’t quite crowded yet. After a drink there, we decided to grab some tapas along one of the main streets in the heart of Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia. We had a view of Casa Batllo (another Gaudi building) as we dined and eventually called it a night.
The next morning, we unfortunately had to head back to America, but thoroughly enjoyed our short visit to the vibrant city of Barcelona.