European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: Barcelona, Spain

Nov 21, 2012


As you know, my honey and I just recently returned from a Western Mediterranean Cruise in celebration of our 4-year anniversary. And what a fun Anni-Moon it was! While we got the ball rolling in Rome, I thought I'd begin from the end with my tale from Barcelona {since I've already shared two Roman adventures with you}. Have you guys been to Barthelona? If not, you must - you'll see ...

Since Barcelona was our last stop on the cruise, we booked a hotel for two nights which gave us two full days to explore the city. After leaving the ship and walking to the city center {it wasn't too far but if we had to do it again, I'd be hailing myself a taxi! Jus sayin, J ...}, finding our hotel and dropping off our luggage, we were beyond faaaamished. We decided to head in the direction of Casa Battló and look for a brunch stop along the way - We ended up at Cachitos and enjoyed two variations of the Spanish omelette {my obsession with these began in Madrid} with fresh OJ. Yum, yum and yum.

A block or so later, we found ourselves standing in front of Casa Battló ... and my obsession with Antoni Gaudí kicked into full gear. :) I'm not sure you can really visit Barcelona without falling in love with this architect. His naturalist style was so original and unique and vibrant - it just can't not put a smile on your face and inspiration in your heart. The admission price was a little steep but after touring the entire house {with an included audioguide that was truly wonderful}, the price didn't seem so bad.

If you're not familiar, Casa Batlló was built between 1904 and 1905 by Gaudí and is considered a modernist icon. The house feels very sea-like with cavernous walls and ceilings, a staircase that ebbs and flows and mimics the spiny backbone of a sea creature. The lights you see {above, right} are supposed to remind you of the back of a sea turtle. Cool, no?

My favorite feature of the house was probably the main front windows. Does anyone remember the Casper movie with Christina Ricci? I was totally having a 6th grade flashback.

We were also able to explore the rooftop ...

Back inside, I loved the center blue/white/grey tiled stairway. Gaudí placed lighter-hued tiles at the base of the stairwell and darker tiles near the top to take advantage of how the natural light poured through the skylight.

And he used wavy glass to create an underwater experience when you gazed through the glass at the tiles:

Next on our Barcelona-turned-Gaudí-love-fest, we walked another block or so to Casa Mila - or The "Manzana de la Discordia" {Block of Discord} - an apartment building designed by Gaudí:

I am seriously in looooooooove with this entryway. Wouldn't it be the coolest to greet guests to your home via this magical entrance? The roofline of Casa Mila was pretty mind-blowing, as well:

We even spied a glimpse of La Sagrada Familia in the distance from the roof:

That night, we explored the Barri Gotic and went in the Cathedral - gorgeous - then shared some paella, patatas and Sangria along Las Ramblas:

I loved the view from our hotel's rooftop 
{which also had an infinity pool - if only it had been a bit warmer ...}:

Our second day in BCN, we took the metro to Park Guell and spent several hours exploring:

The park was originally a project between Gaudí and Guell and meant to become a housing development. The idea failed and the city took over the property and turned it into a public park:

Gaudí lived in the development and his house was meant to be the 'model home' for the community. For 5,50 euro, you can tour the inside of his home {shown below} which we did. :)

After the park, we walked over to tour La Sagrada Familia, another Gaudí project which is actually still under construction:

We ended our last day with gazpacho soup, grilled veggies and, of course, more Sangria. :)

CB's Top Tips for Barcelona:

- Gaudí everything. His modernist vision seems to embody the essence of this city and you can't really visit without seeing his work so I recommend doing a bit of research and choosing a few key Gaudí works to check out in depth. J&I visited Casa Batlló, Park Guell, Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia - and those are listed in order of my favorites. 

- Hotel Andante. We stayed here for two nights and I loved almost everything about it. The location was great for us - one street away from Las Ramblas and close to a metro stop. Also, within walking distance to the cruise port. Very clean, spacious + welcoming. The hotel had a modern/minimalist vibe which felt fresh. The rooftop pool was amazing but early November proved a bit too chilly for us to take a dip. Shucks. Also, the price was impressively low.

- Be careful where you eat. Food poisoning is not fun and it's less fun when you develop symptoms right before your taxi ride to the airport to board a plane followed by a long train ride and subsequent taxi ride home. True story. Ugh. :( I have no idea what it was I ate that claimed me as its victim but from now on, I will definitely be more discerning in my travels when it comes to food. 

- If you're a ballet flat fanatic, check out Kokua. Amazing selection.

- Shopping in BCN is fabulous. J&I were amazed how spacious the stores were and I loved how creative the shop windows and installations inside were. Beautiful shops.

- If you visit Casa Mila, there's an awesome organic eatery right across the street called Le Pain Quotidien. We first discovered the small chain when we were in Bruges. There was one right around the block from our hotel and we ate there several times. Delicious, clean eating with a farm-to-table feel. Very comfortable atmosphere, too.

- If you're more of a visual person like I am, check out BCN Help on Pinterest:
Lots of pretty photos to help you decide what you do and don't want to see/do in BCN. :)

If you have any tips, insights, suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear them! Happy Honeymooning!

Did you miss the other entries of CB's Travel Journal? Click here to catch up! ;o)

All images by moi.


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