I have been to Barcelona once before, and completely fell in love with Antoni Gaudi. His approach to architecture, ergonomics and art is something truly awe-inspiring, and I feel so lucky and blessed every time I get to see his work with my own eyes.
A lot of people go to Barcelona for the nightlife. I go to Barcelona to immerse myself in Gaudi 🙂
Barcelona has changed since I was there 5 years ago, a lot of the sights/attractions now require online booking to guarantee and purchase a time slot. There is of course, the crazy long line of people who wait to purchase tickets, but it’s just chaos and mayhem at the entrance where both people with and without tickets have to line up to gain entry. We booked our tickets online for La Sagrada Familia, Casa Battlo and La Pedrera around 1 month prior to arriving in Barcelona.
I found Barcelona to be the most expensive city in terms of cost to see the main sights/attractions.
1. La Sagrada Familia – Antoni Gaudi’s legacy to Barcelona, it is still incomplete! There was a lot of construction going on, with the estimated completion date in 2026. It would be nice to return soon after that to see how they have fared. We got the audio guide, which was really informative and also went up the Passion Facade tower – this was really a treat. We take a lift up 65 meters, walk up a few more steps to the highest viewing point of the tower. Then we walked down 400 steps. This structure is so intricate and detailed, a lot of thought went into deciding the hows and whys of it all – it is the perfect balance between architecture, faith, religion and nature.
2. Park Guell – another of Gaudi’s masterpieces. I was quite disappointed with this park, it was very disorganised, the signage was bad, and you have to walk very far for very little gains. Lots of construction, and the most beautiful part of the park was ravaged by construction work. Park administrators were taking advantage of the disruption and charging people for access to the remaining open sections – limit of 400 people for 30 minutes of enjoyment.
3. Casa Battlo – my favourite Gaudi structure. This apartment block is owned by the Battlo family, and is inspired by a sort of underwater mermaid theme, with a dragon inspired rooftop. Imagine various shades of blue tiles, shells, coloured glass, and sweeping wooden banisters that fit the shape of your hand perfectly. Gaudi truly thought this apartment block through, with its superior ventilation system, ergonomic door handles and even the placement of light and dark blue tiles in the stairwell to invite more light.
4. La Pedrera/Casa Mila – another Gaudi apartment block. I had forgotten that I had been here once before, and for good reason! It’s not terribly exciting, it doesn’t have the character that Casa Battlo has. It’s a much larger apartment block than Casa Battlo, and people still live in it! How they deal with the tourists everyday, I have no idea.
5. Museu Picasso – gallery of Picasso’s early works, pre-cubism. His work itself was interesting, he started out with portraits, but then his art took on a kind of madness with disproportionate human features. Audio guide was terrible. The museum is free between 6pm and 9pm every Thursday, pay €5 for the audio guide (it’s not worth it).
6. El Born – used to be fish market that slid away to reveal a 17th century village 30 feet below, entrance is free.
7. Santa Maria del Mar – beautiful cathedral, built in under 64 years, entrance is free after 5pm everyday.
Ben and I did a free walking tour of Barcelona Gothic Quarter and Born. Through the Sandeman’s New Europe company, we met British tour guide, Leon. He had a strange sense of humour and looked like he was suffering withdrawal from excessive heroin use. Leon claims he is married to a Venezuelan woman, with 3 boys – one older child, and a set of 18 month old twins. He was very informative, and plugged his “Forbidden tour” a lot while in the same breath claiming that he is terrible at sales pitches. These tour guides work for tips, so at the end of the tour Ben and I gave Leon €20. They ask you to tip what you think the tour was worth.
Meal times in Spain are interesting, as the famous siesta is incorporated into the typical Spaniards daily routine. Apparently breakfast is often served between 9am-12pm, lunch is 1.30pm-4.30pm, and dinner is 8pm-12am!
1. Granja M Viader – old school “milk bar” – Ben and I went here twice for breakfast, it was amazing! We had cacaolat (bottled chocolate milkshake), Majorcan milk (cold milk flavoured with cinnamon and lemon), churros, hot chocolate, foie gras and cheese toastie, Spanish cured meat and cheese toasted sandwich, 3 Catalan cheese (goat, sheep, cow) and Catalan meat (traditional meat and egg sausage, ham, mystery meat 3) platter with bread.
2. Blai 9 – pintxos bar – we had sangria and pintxos, was delicious and value for money. €18 for 2 people, 9 pintxos and one sangria.
3. L’Amfora – seafood dinner – cod with mushroom cream sauce, cod with Catalan style. Dessert was crema catalana
4. Ben and I figured out that the menu del dia (lunch menu) is a terrific deal, there is so much food! Often you can get a 3 course meal for €12pp. We found that these restaurants can afford to do that as these meals are not made to order. There’s also a fair bit of carbs in them. Some recommendations include:
– La Fonda – €11.75 pp lunch menu, 3 courses.
– Les Quinze Nits in Placa Reial – menu del dia €11.75 pp
T-10 pass – 10 trips on metro, multi-person use – €10.20. It’s really value for money as buying a single ticket is €2.20. This pass makes it less than half price. We supplemented with a lot of walking as well. If our destination could be reached within 15 minutes of walking, we would do so.
We saw lots of people walking their dogs, but the poor dogs had to pee and poop on the pavement. Barcelona does not have any greenery so these dogs are forced to just go wherever they can.