beautiful barcelona.

posted in: food., travel. | 0

I’ve been to Barcelona twice before but this trip was by far my favourite.

Plaça Reial - my favourite place in Barcelona
Plaça Reial – my favourite place in Barcelona

I went to meet up with my friends, Kate and James, who were travelling around Europe over summer (and managed to join us on our Greek sail) and Micu, who was travelling in Spain while on gardening leave. It was only a quick trip (two and half days is far too little time in Barcelona) but it was just long enough to enjoy some tapas, soak up the Spanish culture and feel the warmth of the sun again.

To me, Barcelona is such a vibrant and wonderful place to visit. It has amazing art and architecture, incredible food, a really interesting history and culture, great nightlife, cool boutiques, beaches and lots of sunshine. Out of all the places I have travelled, Barcelona is one of the few that I could see myself actually living and working in. That said, it would be hard to work when there are so many other fun things to do!

The weekend was quite relaxed (although we didn’t end up sleeping very much!) but we still managed to squeeze in a few tourist activities, lots of food and some partying.

Iced teas at Ocaña in Plaça Reial
Iced teas at Ocaña in Plaça Reial
Micu and I in Plaça Reial
Reunited! Micu and I in Plaça Reial
La Rambla
La Rambla; busy day and night
View of the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc hill
View of the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc hill
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The National Art Museum of Catalonia
The National Art Museum of Catalonia
Out for drinks
Out for drinks
Micu, Kate, James and I
Micu, Kate, James and I

A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without some Gaudi so we ventured to Park Güell on Saturday for an early morning walk before the crowds arrived. Unfortunately it was quite overcast and glary over the city, so the view of Barcelona wasn’t as nice as it could have been but the park itself was just as amazing as the last time we were here.

The entrance to Park Güell
The dragon staircase by the main entrance to Park Güell
The Porters' lodges at the front of Park Güell - to me, they look like gingerbread houses!
The Porters’ lodges at the front of Park Güell – they look like giant gingerbread houses to me!
Some of the gardens in Park Güell
Some of the gardens in Park Güell
View of the city from Park Güell
View of the city from Park Güell

We also went to the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló. I had never been inside the Sagrada Familia because I was always put off by the long lines but this time we booked in advance to go in early, before all the tourists were awake.

I always thought the outside of the Sagrada Familia was pretty incredible but the inside is absolutely breathtaking. The first thing you notice is the height – the twisting columns towering precariously high above you, branching out like trees – then you see all the colours from the stain glass windows (which are fairly inconspicuous from the outside) creating beautiful patterns on the walls and casting an almost magical light inside. And then you begin to notice all the other little details – the intricate carvings, the subtle changes in colour and light, the ever-changing geometry, the symbolism. Gaudi’s attention to detail is truly amazing. The inside is so futuristic looking that it feels a bit surreal being there – it’s almost like you are on the set of a Star Wars movie! The photos really do not do it justice at all; it’s definitely something you need to see for yourself.

The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia with Kate and James

The nativity façade
The nativity façade
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Looking up
Looking up

Stain glass details

Inside the Sagrada Familia

Part of the ceiling
Part of the ceiling – such an incredible level of detail in the vaults

Jesus on the cross

The ceiling of the crossing

All of the lights
All of the lights
View of Barcelona from the tower
View of Barcelona from the tower at Sagrada Familia
Spiraling down
Spiraling down

Casa Batlló is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces – this time in the form of an apartment block which he completely refurbished in the 1900s. From the outside, the building is an interesting series of curves and colours, with the façade covered in mosaic tiles and glass, which make it shimmer in the sunlight. The building itself is said to represent an animal with it’s skull-like balconies and a spine along the rooftop covered with large tiles that change colour as you move along the terrace. It’s pretty unique on the inside too with its giant light-well covered in blue tiles and curved lines everywhere.

Casa Batlló, another one of Gaudi's masterpieces
Casa Batlló, another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces

Casa Batlló

The intricate design of the light well inside Casa Batlló
The intricate design of the light well inside Casa Batlló
Inside the noble floor
Inside the noble floor
Curves everywhere
Curves everywhere

Detail of a light fitting on the noble floor

Me by one of the doors

Looking down the light well - the tiles are lighter blue at the bottom to drive light down and illuminate the area
Looking down the light well – the tiles are lighter blue at the bottom to help achieve an even distribution of light
Mosaic tiles on the roof which are meant to replicate the dragon's spine
Mosaic tiles on the roof which are meant to replicate a dragon’s spine
The unusual chimneys - Gaudi grouped them together to make them a feature rather than a detraction from the rooftop
The unusual chimneys – Gaudi grouped them together to make them more of a feature rather than a detraction from the rooftop
The loft - the arches are meant to represent an animal's ribcage
The loft – the arches are meant to represent an animal’s ribcage
Mosaic tiles in the courtyard
Mosaic tiles in the courtyard
Intricate gates between the building and the courtyard
Intricate gates between the building and the courtyard

After Casa Batlló we met Kate and James for an incredible lunch at La Paredeta, just a street away from the Sagrada Familia, upon the recommendation of one of Kate’s friends. It may have been one of the best seafood experiences of my life. It’s a self-service restaurant so you basically go up to the counter, pick whatever seafood you want in whatever quantity, they cook it and you pick it up from the kitchen. It’s no frills (reminiscent of a school cafeteria) but seriously delicious and incredibly good value. We got pretty excited by all the fresh seafood on offer and may have over ordered, but for only €60 (split between 4) we got huge servings of grilled prawns, grilled squid, calamari rings, mussels, crab and octopus, plus drinks. Definitely worth it if you ask me!

La Paradeta - the fresh seafood on offer
Some of the fresh seafood on offer at La Paradeta

La Paradeta

The inside - reminiscent of a school cafeteria
The inside – reminiscent of a school cafeteria
So many glorious prawns!
So many glorious prawns!
Pure deliciousness
Pure deliciousness
Full but happy
Full but happy

We spent the rest of our time wandering the streets and alleyways, exploring the Gothic Quarter and enjoying all the food delights Barcelona has to offer.

Beautiful buildings in Barcelona

Endless alleyways
Endless alleyways

Jamon hanging

The famous market - Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
The famous market – Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

Fruit in the market Fresh juices

Seafood in Le Mercat, Barcelona More seafood

More prawns!
More prawns! Lightly fried with garlic, salt and lemon

Plaça Reial

Beautiful buildings

Magical colours inside a church
Magical colours inside a church in the Gothic Quarter
Beautiful buildings in Barcelona
Beautiful buildings in Barcelona
A quick tapas pitstop at Can Paixano
A quick tapas pitstop at Can Paixano
Watching bubbles by Barceloneta
Watching bubbles by Barceloneta
A cute cafe
A cute cafe
Amazing tapas
Amazing tapas

Tapas

A different kind of tapas - sweet treats to go
A different kind of tapas – sweet treats to go
Ambient nightlife
Ambient nightlife

The streets at night

Thanks for an incredible weekend, Barcelona!

Photos by Micu and I.

© 2014 Fiona Tregeagle.

Leave a Reply