Barcelona was so good to us. We landed on the 20th of September early morning. After an insane experience with Ryan Air – do not fly with Ryan Air and if you absolutely have to please do not forget to print your boarding pass – we landed safely in Barcelona. It was my third time in Barcelona but I hadn’t been back since I studied abroad in Bilbao back in 2006. I was excited to show Spencer why I fell so deeply in love with Spain.
We opted to take the train to the AirB&B apartment we were staying at since it was early and we wanted the complete travel experience without the luxury of cabs.
The neighborhood we stayed at was called Gràcia. It’s located north of the centre of Barcelona at the north end of the Passeig de Gràcia. The most well known attraction in Gràcia is Parc Güell.
September 20th, 2013
On our first day we figured it was best if we explored the places we could easily walk to. Keep in mind, Spencer and I are faux New Yorkers and we walk a lot on a daily basis so a 30 minute walk to the Sagrada Familia had nothing on us.
The Sagrada Familia, of course is beautiful but being that it’s constantly under construction, it’s difficult to appreciate it’s beauty as easily as you can other buildings in Barcelona.
We moved on the Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera where we were fortunate enough to be gifted a pass by a family that bought an extra. We purchased one more and headed up to the top. The rooftop of this place is amazing. It’s easy to see why people are enamoured with Antoni Gaudí and the art he left around Barcelona.
We left La Pedrera and headed to Parc Güell to end the day. The last time I was at Parc Güell was with my family over six years ago and it was magical. Parc Güell is the type of place where you can go and always feel the amazing energy of everyone there. Although it is a tourist destination it’s big enough so you don’t feel like you’re sight seeing.
The ceiling at a building at the entrance of the park.
We took the day to go up the mountain and visit Castell de Montjuïc which offers wonderful views of Barcelona. The ride up is pretty curvy and long if you’re walking but if you catch a bus as the base of the mountain it takes no more than 15 minutes.
The Castle used to be a military fortress. It is situated on top of Montjuïc Hill. The castle itself has two levels and you can climb up to the second level to explore. If you look west you will get stunning views of the Mediterranean. To the east you can see all of Barcelona. There are snack shops outside of the Castle where you can sit and enjoy a cold Estrella and eat a Jamon Iberico bocadillo. Naturally, after exploring the Castle that’s exactly what we did.
We decided the bus was too crowded on the way down so we walked to our next destination which was Quimet & Quimet. It’s located on Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25 in a tiny space. There is very limited seating so most people are standing while they eat. It’s really not a restaurant so if you’re looking to sit down and have a proper meal this isnt the place for you. It’s a place where you can pick up some of the most amazing tapas you’ll ever eat and enjoy a nice cold beer.
We ordered the stuffed olives, and a few montaditos – mussels & caviar and another that was caviar with peppers & cheese. Montaditos are small tapas served on top of a piece of toasted bread. Let me tell you – this is the way to go as far as tapas. We ordered the house brew and it went perfectly with every bite. If you have a minute to stop by this little shop I highly recommend it.
We made our way back into the center of the city where we breaked from sight seeing to do a little shopping.
For dinner we were super exicted to try a restaurant we’d heard of called La Pepita. After Quimet & Quimet earlier in the day we were sure we would find nothing that could compare but La Pepita did not disappoint. It’s located in the neighborhood we were staying at – Carrer de Còrsega, 343.
The tapas at La Pepita are more contemporary than those at Quimet & Quimet. You can go there and expect to sit down for a proper dinner with amazing service. The owner, Sofia, came to our table a few times to check on us and make sure we were happy with our food. We were.
If you go, which I hope you do, don’t leave before getting your shot of poison, x or fire at the end of your meal!
On our last day in Barcelona we wanted to just walk around and explore so we did just that. There was no more sight seeing. Instead we just found a few areas of Barri Gotti to walk around and hoped to bump into something fun. We actually did!
La Mercè was happening when we were there and we had heard there would be some daytime events going on but we hadn’t see much thus far. La Mercè is a festival held in honor of Mare de Deu de la Merce, the Patron Saint of Barcelona.
These groups are called Castellers and they aim to have a child climb all the way to the top of the human tower and stand up. They walk around and then stop at plazas to do their towers.
Barri Gotti is an awesome barrio. It shouldn’t be missed if you go to Barcelona. It’s right off Las Ramblas and has a million little stores, bars, cafes and tapas restaurants that are worth trying. Just walking around those tiny narrow streets is enchanting.