The best thing about writing travel blogs and trip reports is it takes you back in time of when you were at your destination. I love taking a stroll down memory lane not only through all the pictures my husband takes but also through my thoughts for these blog posts. 🙂
With that, Day 3 in Barcelona was my absolute favorite! It consisted of visiting a couple major tourist attractions, eating some of the best Spanish food I’ve ever had and seeing some breathtaking views. Keep reading to hear about the deets!
We woke up extra early around 7:30am to get ready to leave the hotel around 9:00am for Sagrada Familia. Prior to our trip, I had purchased admission tickets online for the 9:30am time slot for the Basilica and the 11:00am slot for the Tower on the Nativity Facade. My smart self also booked our visit to Antoni Gaudi’s House at Park Guell for 2:00pm which meant that our 1st meal of the day would be lunch.
As we hustled out of the hotel room, I asked the concierge to call a taxi for us and Anthony ran to the bakery a couple doors down from the hotel to pick up some pastries for breakfast. He came back right when the taxi driver came so we chowed down in the cab as our ride would be about 10 minutes to Sagrada Familia. 2 minutes into our feast and we stopped eating because the cab driver kindly asked us to not make a mess. Um how can I enjoy what I’m eating after a comment like that? He was really nice about it though and I felt guilty so we decided to pack up the goods for a snack break later on. While putting away the pastries I saw a pile of powdered sugar on my shirt…Oops hehe.
After we arrived at Sagrada Familia we handed our cab driver some big bills to pay for our fare and he told us for future reference to try and carry small bills because most cab drivers don’t have change. Double oops…. We got out and headed for one of the entrances to the Basilica. Luckily with our entrance tickets in hand we were able to skip to the front of the long line. I read online that if you don’t get an early time the wait for admission tickets on warm days can be up to 2 hours! Crazy!
Sagrada Familia is a roman catholic church commissioned and directed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi until his tragic death in 1926 from a tram accident. The basilica is a Unesco World Heritage site and is the #1 visited attraction in Barcelona. It was also #1 on my list of must see’s in Barcelona.
We stopped by the little tent on the right after we passed the entrance to purchase audio guides and were on our way! At last we were standing right beneath the basilica and wow! what an incredible sight to see. It was the darkest work I’ve ever seen and to me it looked like a mixture of baroque and gothic architecture. As we entered you could hear a song of worship choir echoing throughout the entire basilica. It felt peaceful, calm and sacred just standing in there.
As we walked closer to the middle of the Basilica, we saw lots of natural sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass windows in all 4 directions. My favorite contrast was when we faced the alter and looked at the East & West walls. The East walls shot colors of green & blue with the West walls shining brightly with shades of yellow, red and orange.
We took a seat near the back of the altar where chairs were set out for guests. We continued to listen to our audio guide which explained the history of the basilica and the significance of the stained class colors. We spent some time people watching and seeing others reactions to seeing the basilica as they entered.
One of my favorite details of Sagarada Familia was when we looked up at the ceilings of the cathedral and noticed this intricate design with sharp edges. As the sun hit the basilica the ceiling was shimmering gold and was just striking. Even to this day, I can picture exactly what the ceilings looked like. It was truly breathtaking.
After exploring inside the basilica, we went outside for a quick 15 min snack and bathroom break. Not wanting to waste too much time we headed straight for the museum. There we learned more about Antoni Gaudi’s childhood and how and why he used his childhood and nature as his main influences for his work. As we went deeper inside the museum we were able to see Antoni Gaudi’s tomb. Inside the museum we were also able to see replicas of original designs of Sagrada Familia by Gaudi. Some of the actual designs and structures for Sagrada Familia were destroyed by a fire.
We got in line about 5 minutes before our 11:00am reservation for the Tower on the Nativity Facade. We got into the elevator that took us up and then we walked the rest of the flights of stairs to see the view. This was the first time I saw the Mediterranean Sea and though there was only a speck of blue from where we were standing we couldn’t stop smiling from excitement. From the tower we also got a beautiful view of Barcelona on a sunny day.
On the way down from the Tower of the Nativity Facade, my husband was going fast like he had been working out for years. I, on the other hand, was going slowly and carefully as I realized during this trip that I have just a minor (only minor!) fear of heights. He stopped to take pictures and when he took a picture of the stairway looking down, we realized the shape of the stairs was that of a snail. Another Antoni Gaudi reference to nature! I didn’t appreciate it until after I got down to the ground level when I felt safe & secure but it was still cool to see.
We returned our audio guides and headed toward the street to catch a taxi to Park Guell. When we arrived at Park Guell we looked around and it felt like we were in a completely different country. Barcelona already felt foreign compared to the last few countries we had visited but the architecture and material of the homes in the Park Guell area were unique and different. This district was called Gracia.
We took another snack break at a cafe just a block from the park and snacked on chips (fried goodness!) and churros con chocolat (churros dipped in chocolate). It was a delicious snack. The churros were hot & crispy and the chocolat so decadent, thick and not too sweet. It was just perfect! We literally ate churros everyday….You’ll hear more about our obsession in the next few Barcelona posts hehe.
Park Guell is a public park designed by Antoni Gaudi and is also another Unesco World Heritage Site. Antoni Gaudi experimented with many different shapes and colors which can be found in nature. Originally the site was designed as a housing site for the wealthy but after Eusebi Guell’s original plan was unsuccessful, Gaudi was hired to create the urban public park.
We spent a good 3 hours at the park checking out all of the view points. As we followed the path that went up the hill, there were several areas to stop and take photos. Upon entering we saw an array of palm trees and a large courtyard area for visitors to sit, people watch and have a picnic. We continued to walk up and at the 1st viewpoint we saw an open view of Barcelona shining in the background.
To the left was Antoni Gaudi’s pink little house which we had a 2:00pm reservations for. It was interesting seeing where he lived while working on the park. Park Guell is so massive but grand in a simplistic kind of way. Gaudi’s house was small and fairly minimal in terms of decor and furniture. It was quite the contrast.
After taking some shortcuts and climbing up dirt piles, we made it to what seemed like a “secret” area with few tourists. Here we saw the mediterranean even more up close. It was completely blue in the horizon and looked as though we were in a dream. It .was. absolutely. beautiful.
Feeling hungry by now, we decided to trek back to our hotel by foot instead of taking a cab. We walked past a restaurant called El Petit Rebost and decided to give it a try. The restaurant was a local mom & pop place with no more than 7 tables and a simple pre-fixe menu.
We ordered 4-color pasta and seafood paella for our 1st courses and pork cheeks with roasted potatoes and grilled chicken in homemade mustard for our 2nd courses. I’ll spare the details but the seafood paella was TO DIE FOR. WOW. The rice was chewy, the sauce was creamy, the seafood fresh and had the perfect touch of sweet from the spices and saltiness from the seafood.
They did an excellent job and it is no wonder almost everyone had a plate of paella on their tables. It was that good! Everything we had was delicious. The seafood paella being the most memorable. The service was top notch and we left with huge smiles because we were so satisfied. We ended our meal with an espresso which was sweet and had the perfect amount of coffee creme.
The walk back to our hotel from Park Guell was LONG. We hadn’t realized it would be that long but it was a nice walk since at this point we had no more reservations. It felt so nice taking our time and walking as fast or slow we wanted. Of course we took our time stopping by little boutiques and even passed by an open air market. The area we walked through was quiet with very little tourists around and mostly only locals out and about still at work.
We ducked into cafe Buenas Migas in the Eixample district when our feet got tired for some delicious hot chocolate and a greek yogurt with granola. The greek yogurt was super sour and thick so we didn’t finish it but the hot chocolate, man oh man. All I can say is I wish we had hot chocolate as rich over there as we did here in Seattle! I’d have it everyday and risk gaining weight for it. Oh and same goes for the Paella ;).
We finally made it to Placa de Catalunya which meant that our hotel was less than 10 minutes away by foot. We did some shopping inside a department store called El Corte Ingles which is similar to Nordstrom. Aside from clothes, accessories, perfume & shoes they also have other departments like electronics, toys, furniture, etc. El Corte Ingles carried name brands like Tumi, Chanel, Dior, Longchamp, etc but also more affordable local Spanish brands like Piedmont.
I picked up a small card wallet made of real leather for only $23! What dealz! The department store was awesome in that the women could shop while the men have the opportunity to explore different departments. One of the cologne brands had a racing simulator in the middle of the floor for the guys to entertain themselves. Of course my husband heard racing sounds from across the store and followed the sounds. When he discovered the racing simulator he was all over that. He was racing while I was shopping. Why can’t we have that here in Seattle? haha!
We dropped off all of our stuff at the hotel, rested for about an hour and headed out to dinner at Bodega Biarritz which has been around since 1881. I found this place on tripadvisor and it was highly rated & reviewed so we gave it a try. The place was packed but we got lucky again and grabbed the last available table!
The ordering system at this restaurant was really unique. They had us go up to the bar and point at whatever dishes we wanted. We sat down, they took our drink order and then brought out the dishes we had pointed to earlier. At the end they tally up each plate and sausage order and give us our bill. The decor was really casual and country. Our table was made out of a barrel and our seats wood stumps. It felt like something I’d find in Texas.
For drinks we shared a glass of sangria which was dangerously good. It didn’t taste like there was much wine in it because it was like drinking 100% juice. It wasn’t until afterward that we both felt a little woozy and had pink cheeks. hehe. For dinner we tried grilled local sausage, spicy potatoes in their house sauce (patatas bravas), meatballs, zucchini with minced fish & meat and croquettes on skewers. Everything was delicious! I’d say the only con was that the house special sauce was on a lot of the dishes so there wasn’t much variety in taste but it was still yummy.
After dinner we wobbled around the area both still feeling “happy.” We decided to walk down to the pier and take a look at the many sailboats being docked there. Anthony also wanted to experiment with some of his camera lens taking pictures of speeding cars. We finally made it back to our hotel around midnight.
That evening we got a good night’s rest after such a long but perfect day. Did I forget to mention the sangria was dangerously good? 🙂