City Life

A long weekend in Barcelona

Barcelona is a hungry photographer’s dream. The main attractions, in my eyes, are the food and the city scenes. I spent a weekend in Barcelona in February so I was not able to enjoy the beach, but it was still warm enough to spend the whole day outside with an unzipped jacket. I found Barcelona very family friendly and livable – everyone was outside on the weekends and children were playing in the parks.

Main tip: Don’t be like me and trek everywhere twice because it was sold out the first time you tried to visit. Buy your tickets online and ahead of time!!! If you know a restaurant you want to visit, make a reservation ahead of time!!

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Stay

We stayed at Pol and Grace Hotel in the Gracia neighborhood. The Gracia neighborhood is quieter, which I appreciate, but also has plenty of restaurants and ways to get around. It was easy to get anywhere via MyTaxi (there is no Uber) or the subway station around the corner from the hotel.

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The hotel was both affordable and also one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. They gave us strawberry marshmallows at check-in and were exceedingly hospitable – when they heard we had no solid plans, concierge sat with us for an hour going over the map and drawing out where we should visit during our stay.

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When we got to our room, that too was adorable. It was a little tight, but everything was clean and the decor was updated and fit the theme. Best of all, there was a free cellphone in the room to use while we toured Barcelona. It had full service- free phone calls and free data. This was indispensible for us in a foreign country. The hotel also featured a rooftop with lounge chairs and a view, complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby, and free apples on all the floors. I would stay here again if I found myself returning to Barcelona.

Eat

I am not going to lie, I came to Barcelona to eat.

Breakfast – Vad Bols

Right next to our hotel was a cereal bar, aka my husband’s dream come true. I don’t like cereal, but I recommend it for the novelty. They have savory foods like sandwiches available as well.

Ok, now on to the real food.

Sibarits

Sibarits was recommended to us by our hotel. It was within walking distance and so an obvious choice for our first dinner in Barcelona. We ordered Cava (a white sparkling wine specialty in the area, and an all time favorite of my Barcelona guru, Ali), patatas bravas, pan con tomate (came pre-assembled), garlic shrimp, and esqueixada (cod salad). We had a small meal here because we wanted to visit a few different restaurants that day and continue to sample small plates / tapas. In the end, we regretted this decision because this was the best restaurant we went to that day and we wished we had ordered more. We actually came back here on the last day as well to eat again before catching our plane out.

Empanat

This stand is located on the main long road between Hospital de Sant Pau and Sagrada Familia. Because we did not listen to advice given to us prior and did not buy tickets ahead of time, we ended up walking up and down this road a few times. These empanadas might have made it worth it.

El Sortidor

We had gotten lost looking for something that didn’t exist and ended up stumbling around a part of town farther from where all the main roads were. A quick Yelp search on our free borrowed cell phone recommended this restaurant. This restaurant was my favorite of the entire trip. Every dish was perfect, but the star of the show was the pan con tomate that you had to assemble yourself. That is the superior way to do it.

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Paella

Paella is another specialty in the area, but I did not personally have any that I felt was worth recommending.

I heard great things about Taverna El Glop, but did not get a chance to go because of all the existing reservations. If you go, let me know how it is!

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Key Attractions

Know before you go.

Visiting Barcelona, you will quickly hear and learn the name: Antoni Gaudi.

The city is filled with his work. Antoni Gaudi was an eccentric and creative architect. When he completed his studies at the School of Architecture in 1878 the Director, Elies Rogent, declared: “I do not know if we have awarded this degree to a madman or to a genius; only time will tell.” Whenever you see something wild and storybook on the streets of Barcelona, you know he was the one who designed it.

While he was alive and working, people hated his style. The Park Guell was vandalyzed by locals and visitors, but now it is prized and celebrated with tickets selling out daily.

He was a devout man and walked the seven miles from his home to the church every day. Sadly, on one of these walks to the church, in 1926 at the age of 73 Gaudi was hit by a tram. Because he was not recognized and therefore not given proper treatment, he passed away from the injuries a few days later.

Sagrada Familia

BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AHEAD OF TIME

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Visiting this cathedral, you may notice different styles of architecture. This is because it was started by one architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar and then taken over by Gaudi who redid all the plans in 1883. When Gaudi died in 1926, less than 1/4 of his plans were completed.

Park Guell

BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AHEAD OF TIME

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This park was originally built between 1900 and 1914 as a private residence for rich people who wanted to live outside of the city. Gaudi’s friend Eusebi Guell commissioned him to build this residence after being inspired by some garden cities he visited in England. The park opened for business in 1926. No one moved in.

I bought tickets with a walking tour, but the tour itself was not that interesting.

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Hospital de Sant Pau

BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AHEAD OF TIME

Not designed by Guadi, this hospital was built between 1901 and 1930. It was a fully functioning hospital until 2009 when it was closed for restorations to become a museum, which opened for visitors in 2014.

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I definitely recommend a visit to the hospital – it was my favorite attraction there. I do recommend the tour with this one. Our guide was able to explain to us where floors had fallen through or been removed. This led to novelties like inaccessible stairs or bathrooms on the second floor. I found these buildings and the decor gorgeous.

On our way out of the hospital, we picked an orange from the tree and had the most sour experience of our lives!!

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Scenes from Barcelona

Walking around the city is a treat. The archicture is unique and varied, and the people are always outside and full of life and culture.

Buildings

Outdoor escalators

Storefronts

Graffiti

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These Barcelona elders who devised a way to play bocce without ever having to bend over

The downtown Sephora has a slide entrance and an arcade inside

Waterfront

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Categories: City Life, travel

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