My trip to Barcelona was a testament to the crazy and unexpected ways that God can bring people into our lives. I met my friend Lidia while I was living in Romania for an internship, we hit it off after our first language lesson (a Wycliffe employee asked her to be our Romanian instructor). She's currently getting her doctorate degree and decided to study abroad in Barcelona for the summer, so I flew over to see her and catch up.
Barcelona hasn't been on my bucket list because I tend to pick locations with mountains and great hiking, but we had such a great time exploring the city that it's become one of my top recommendations! First of all, I don't really like cities, but Barca is unique, full of crazy diverse architecture and coffee. All the coffee. One every street square, no joke! Also, the food is incredible, the produce extremely fresh and flavorful!
1. Park Guell
For me, Barcelona is an architecture nerd's Disney World! There are so many style buildings right next to each other and it's home to several of Antoni Gaudi's works.
Park Guell was my personal favorite because it's open air and the tropical plant life is incorporated into his park walkways, walls and tiers. The park was design on top of Carmel hill, so there is a little overlook into the city and port from the top tiered area. There is an entrance charge and they only allow a certain amount of people in each hour, so go online and reserve your time early. We registered the day before, but in summer you might want to do that a few days before.
2. La Sagrada Familia
This spot will be on every Barcelona must-see list, but it truly is incredible! I'm the first to admit I'm a architecture nerd and this building had me speechless. It's still under construction, the top towers have had cranes over them finishing the carving details for years, but the inside is completed and unlike any cathedral you've seen. Gaudi loved the combination of color and smooth stone, it's a contrast that you will find throughout Spain's culture and landscape so you can imagine what inspired him.
3. Cafe's everywhere!!
The best par of Barcelona is that on every street square, there is a cafe. So expresso is easily at hand no matter where you are! For me, they also had oat milk everywhere, so I didn't have to worry about dairy or ordering it black. I quickly learned the Spanish term for oat milk: leche de avena.
4. The Perfect City for Walking
Besides our trip to the fort (which has a cable car or bus option), we walked almost everywhere we wanted to go in the city. For me as a rural mountain town girl, the city is laid out in a perfect grid, so I couldn't get lost if I tried! You are either going toward the beach or up a hill lol. Every city square has a cafe so you can easily find food, a small grocery store, and a produce stand. I never had trouble finding a bathroom to use or a place to fill up my water bottle.
The other best part of spending the day walking around Barcelona is that it's the opitomy of a beach town. So there is no dress code anywhere, you can walk into an open air cafe in a bathing suit or into a sit down restaurant! Over half of the city's population are tourists, so going from the beach to the city is an everyday occurrence.
I heard a lot about pic-pocketing before going to Barcelona, and on our first day I saw a young man running with a purse and 4 police chasing him. I sincerely doubt he got far and I never saw anything else or ever felt unsafe during my trip there. I think it's always a good idea to wear a crossbody purse and keep your eyes on it when traveling, but I don't think this city is any "worse" than anywhere else.
5. Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
There is a beautiful water fountain outside of the Montjuic that is stunning during the day, but you won't want to miss one of the night shows when they light up the water fountain! They don't do it every day and I almost missed it during my trip. So make sure to look up the schedule ahead of time!
We had to ride the city bus from where we were staying, and I have to say that with your phone's navigation app, it will tell you how to walk to to the correct bus stop, which bus to take going in which direction and what stop to get off. It's worth a few dollars to buy a local SIM card for your phone to be able to use that navigation app! It will also tell you if the bus or the underground will get you to a destination more efficiently if you like to experience all the different modes of transportation. From my experience, the buses were very nice and clean, the underground felt safe, just the two of us girls, and the taxi's were also nice! So, I wouldn't say there is a right of wrong way to go except that buses allow you to see more of the city whereas the underground has no visuals.