5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Barcelona
Thursday, October 4th, 2018
The city of Barcelona has always been at the top of the bucket list of places to visit in this world. We were determined to live like a local and gain valuable insight on this beautiful destination. We were immediately entranced by its beauty upon arrival and were thrilled to begin our adventure of a lifetime.
- Put on your walking shoes
My fondest memory of this trip was the experience we had walking from place to place throughout the city. New adventure waited around every corner and we loved talking to locals to get the insider information on where to take our journey next. We found ourselves never wanting to stop exploring as the sheer beauty and charm of the city kept us searching down every path. We loved walking down the lively Gothic Quarter with its narrow streets and beautiful architecture. The options were endless with shops or cafés to jump into to take a short break before continuing our journey. It seemed as if we would always stumble upon a picturesque plaza like the Barcelona Cathedral where street performers were carrying out their unique talents. Tears would fill my eyes as opera singers would pour their hearts out, filling the alley ways with enchanting sounds that would fulfill the soul.
Another amazing feature is that you can walk to parks galore. We highly suggest paying a visit to Gaudi’s fairy tale garden at the spectacular Park Güell or Parc de la Ciutadella with its lush green-space. We also hiked up to Montjuïc Castle to experience the grand vista view where this historic city meets the Mediterranean Sea.
All 5 senses were on full display as you walk around this amazing city. Whether you are viewing Museu Picasso to see his gallery of fine art, listening to the energy of the city off Las Ramblas, ducking into a local tapas bar to enjoy some of the delicious Catalan cuisine, smelling the varieties of local paella or touching history by experiencing one of the many beautiful modern architecture expressions, Barcelona is buzzing with options to satisfy your wanderlust.
- Art and Culture
I had heard about Barcelona and its modernist architecture but once I saw it first-hand it completely changed my perspective on life, culture and history. Gaudi is the central figure in the city’s rich artistry. There are many brilliant examples of his craft throughout the city with the Sagrada Família being his masterpiece. It is overflowing with tourists, but you feel true inspiration as you walk about the grounds and is a must see at least once in your lifetime. One of the most intriguing aspects is that the project is still yet to be completed. Construction is still on-going and set for completion in 2026. My other favorite was Casa Batlló, where you feel like you’re inside a living aquarium. Gaudi’s work always reminds me of the elements of nature and to embrace life and all its wonders. Countless other artists are sprinkled throughout the city creating a truly awe-inspiring destination for every traveler.
Music was also a key experience in our Barcelona adventure. Music fills the streets and we had the thrill of a lifetime dancing on the rooftops to Spanish gypsy classics. One of our most memorable experiences was visiting the Palau de la Música Catalana. The building is a true showcase of artistic workmanship and when you add a classic flamenco experience, your heart melts with pure joy in taking in this unique culture.
One other day trip that we highly recommend is to Montserrat. Montserrat is a beautiful mountain range with an active monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat. The mountain range is breathtaking with multiple trails to explore the rich history of the area and its beautiful peaks. Our day venture was composed of a trip to Montserrat and an afternoon at a local winery. This whole day experience is all within a short drive of Barcelona.
- Culinary Wonderland
As a self-proclaimed foodie, I could write about the Barcelona food scene for days. I have never experienced so many options of delectable treats that seem to stretch on throughout every street corner of the city. We were beginning to wonder if anyone ever cooked at home since there were so many amazing tapa bars to explore with endless amounts of enticing local delicacies. Boqueria market is a great place to begin as it is the true heart of the city with endless gastronomic options. But the true character of the city would be to sample numerous tapas as you move from bar to bar enjoying the likes of grilled octopus, savory La Bomba (potato croquette with meat fillings) or local anchovies to name a few. I am also eternally addicted to pan con tomate (bread with tomato). Everyone did their recipe a little different but always with the freshest local tomatoes and olive oil. I can’t seem to have a dinner party without having enough pan con tomate for everyone to enjoy.
My special treat to myself was to dine at one of Albert Adria restaurants while we were in Barcelona. Each one of his restaurants has its own unique gusto. I was able to get a reservation at Hoja Santa and was a little skeptical of eating Mexican in Barcelona but my dinner experience far and away exceeded expectations. Every flavor component was perfectly balanced with proper portion control and impeccable timing. My margaritas were the most divine and mouthwatering tequila drinks I have ever tasted. I certainly will be searching out one of his other restaurants the next time I am in Barcelona.
Barcelona has a vibrant beverage scene going on as well. You can sample wine from the nearby region of Cava, enjoy the afternoon tradition of vermut (Catalan for vermouth) from a local bodega or, my favorite, the Barcelona gin and tonic. The Barcelona gin and tonic style is to use of a wide variety of botanicals with high-end tonic options, and always served in a goblet to bring out the most aromatic flavors…don’t forget the lemon twist around the rim. One bar I experienced had over 100 different tonic options to choose from. Barcelona takes their gin and tonic seriously and you can truly taste the difference.
- Take a dip in the Mediterranean
We took a couple of opportunities to enjoy the beach life of Barcelona. Barcelona beach is situated in a great spot within the city for all to enjoy a day soaking up some sunshine. In our typical Barcelona fashion, we walked from our downtown living quarters to take in the sights and sounds of families enjoying their holiday. The beach has golden sand and amazing views of the city. There are plenty of seaside restaurants and bars to enjoy a cocktail or refuel with some delicious seafood. This beach scene is vibrant, and we enjoyed talking to visitors from all over Europe and beyond.
For those visiting and wanting a more relaxed experience, Barcelona is situated on the coast where you can journey up to numerous destinations in the region of Costa Brava. Transportation is easy as you can take the train line up the Costa Brava to explore a wide variety of beach towns. Our journey took us to the beautiful cove of Cala del Pi with its crystal-clear water and lush surrounding vegetation. We truly relaxed like a local as we took in the sights and sounds of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Enjoy a Siesta
C’mon…let’s be real, isn’t life really all about nap strategy. This was my favorite cultural tradition that I took full advantage of while in Spain. Our favorite tradition was ducking into a local tapas bar for an afternoon snack and local vermut before our siesta. This would be a perfect cap to the morning part of the daily adventure. Most businesses were closed in the afternoon and the restaurants bars would serve the afternoon crowds before their siesta would start. I, still to this day, try to have a weekly afternoon ritual of a vermouth and cigar and possibly a nap…if I’m lucky.
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