A little over a week ago I got home from my trip to Barcelona, the city of Gaudí. I went together with my mother, and we had a wonderful time, so I figured I would write a nice blog post about it. I made about 400 photos while there, but narrowed it down to 21. Man, that was hard! Barcelona is such a beautiful city and it left me quite overwhelmed, to be honest. Everywhere you look there is something really pretty to see (and photograph), so I didn’t even know where to begin to look. Anyway, let’s not start gushing right away, and take it day by day (wow, I should be a poet).
Day 1: Arrival and La Pedrera
We travelled by airplane, and arrived in Barcelona at the end of the afternoon. I’m not really fond of flying as I get quite nervous and stressed, but everything went smoothly, so we arived safe and sound! There was this very handy airport bus that dropped us off at Plaça Catalunya, which was quite close to our hotel, and we decided to walk that last bit. The heat made the walk with our big suitcase a bit of a chore, though, so I was quite cranky when we arrived. Seriously, I don’t do well in heat. Which was a nice foreboding for the rest of our stay…
Nah, I wasn’t that bad.
Our hotel, Hostal Centro, was located in a gorgeous old building. We had our own little balcony (which we were very excited about) with a nice view of the Carrer de Balmes and our room had its own bathroom, AC and wifi. After getting settled into the room and resting for a bit we decided to do our first bit of exploring. I’d wanted to go to Barcelona for quite a while already, and the main reason for that was because of Gaudí and all his beautiful contributions to the city. I was really excited to see his masterpieces, so we decided to go and see one of the houses he designed.
So, we went looking for Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera. Trouble was, we couldn’t find it. Turns out, they were busy with renovations of the exterior, which meant it was completely covered. I was so bummed! We could still go inside, but not being able to see the outside took away quite a bit of the experience. But hey, it happens.
When entering La Pedrera, they first take you to the roof with an elevator. The roof is spectacular enough on its own, but it also gave you a magnificent view of the city, which was really beautiful in the late afternoon sunlight. There was a nice breeze as well, so we walked around for a while and took a lot of pictures.
Afterwards we took a staircase to the floor directly below the roof (I think), where we found an exhibition of Gaudí and his architecture. Gaudí got the inspiration for his buildings from plants and animals, and it was really interesting to sort of see the way his mind worked in this display of a lot of different objects and plans. Interesting to note as well is that there is no perfect angle to be found in this entire house, which was actually inhabited at some point.
We walked around this exhibition for a while, and the floor below this one as well. After having seen everything we went out for dinner. I am going to make a separate blog post on what we ate in Barcelona next week!
Day 2: La Rambla, the beach, Barri Gotìc and the Cathedral
After a bit of a restless night (strange bed in a strange place on a very busy street) we got up to explore more! We decided to head towards the beach and the Barri Gotìc (Gothic Quarter) via Plaça Catalunya and La Rambla. It was fun walking there among all those other tourists and just looking at all those beautiful buildings around us. There were a lot of them, I can tell you (both the tourists and the beautiful buildings).
At the end of La Rambla, when we had arrived at the harbour, we encountered mister Columbus here. I thought this high statue of him was pretty cool, with him pointing towards the sea. And this picture just turned out really well, I think!
We looked around in the harbour for a while, and then took a bus towards la Barceloneta because I really wanted to see the beach. I absolutely love the sea and hadn’t been at a beach for a very long time so I just wanted to dip a toe in the water. The water was really nice, and we just stood there for a while, almost up to our knees in the water, being content and looking out at sea.
And then my beloved straw hat blew from my head and I had to chase it like a madman down the beach. Just for a few meters, but I felt pretty silly nonetheless. That wasn’t the worst thing, though — I can live with a bit of silliness. Since my hat had landed in the water it was now soaking wet (and sandy) and it had lost its shape completely. That shape hasn’t come back, so it’s bye bye, hat. Oh, well.
We were kind of done with the beach after the hat incident, so we ventured into Barri Gotìc, the absolutely beautiful gothic quarter of Barcelona. It has all these narrow streets like the one above, and it had many cute shops as well.
We didn’t stop in all that many shops, though, because we were looking for the cathedral. This was the 23rd of July, which was set as national day of mourning in the Netherlands because of the tragedy with flight MH17 on the 17th of July. We wanted to pay our respects as well, so we did by lighting two candles and having a minute of silence at 4 o’clock, together with the rest of the Netherlands. It felt so strange to not be at home at that moment…
We walked around the rest of the cathedral afterwards, which had a beautiful courtyard, with a couple of geese that made a huge racket went the church bells went off. It really was a beautiful cathedral.
We walked around Barri Gotìc some more after this and had a drink somewhere, and went back to the hotel afterwards. We had a delicious dinner and drank some marvellous mojitos in the evening.
Day 3: Casa Battló, La Sagrada Família and Montjuïc
Day three was the only day that had an actual programme: we had to be at La Sagrada Família at half past one (or half past twelve, I don’t remember). We had bought our tickets on the internet, so we didn’t have to wait in line, which was really nice. Before heading over to Gaudí’s most important and complex architectural construction, we quickly visited another one of his houses: Casa Battló. This one we could see the outside of, which was a good thing because we didn’t go inside. There was quite a line, and it meant we wouldn’t be on time at La Sagrada Família. So, we just stood there gazing at it for a while. And the building next to it, which was also really beautiful.
And then it was time to take the subway to La Sagrada Família. It was really quite the experience to walk out of the subway station and turn around to see that huge church. Quite breathtaking, to be honest (could’ve been the heat, though). My mother had seen it before, but it was a first for me. We spent about two and a half hours in and around the church…
I didn’t take a picture of the whole church at this point because we were too close for that, but I did take a lot of close ups of the Nativity façade, which is the façade Gaudí himself finished before his death. Every time I looked at it I discovered something new and beautiful, and we stood there gazing at it for quite a while.
Man, that Gaudí was a genius…
I thought that pigeon on the hand of what I assume is Joseph was quite funny. Plus, you get a view of how extremely detailed this façade is.
Of course, we also went in at some point.
I made about a gazillion photographs of all the stained glass this church has, which was the most beautiful stained glass I’d ever seen, really. We walked around for about an hour, carefully looking at everything and taking tons of pictures, and then we got to go up the Nativity tower.
It was so awesome (can’t think of another word because that is what it was) up there. You could see far and wide over the city, and you could see the towers of La Sagrada Família in more detail. Before going up I was afraid I was going to be scared because of the height, but I had no problem with it whatsoever, and felt quite safe. You hardly get to think of the height because of all the beautiful things.
After spending those two and a half hours at the most beautiful and overwhelming church I have ever seen and will probably ever see, we went up to Montjuïc with the subway. It didn’t have that much of an impression on me though, since we were very thirsty and hot (and all out of water) and I was still kind of overwhelmed with all of the impression La Sagrada Família left me with. We did have a gorgeous view over the city though, and I ended up with this nice snapshot of the church.
Day 4: Park Guëll, disappointment and more Barri Gotìc
This was our last full day in Barcelona, and it started of with rain and a thunderstorm. Wait, what? We weren’t prepared for that! It was going to be sunny the whole time! Well, it wasn’t, but it cleared up a little after breakfast, so we headed out to Park Guëll, another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces. When we arrived at the subway station it had started to rain again so we waited for a while before going out. We almost headed back to our hotel, ready to do some shopping in a mall when the rain stopped. That was a relief, because Park Guëll was actually the part I was most looking forward to before going on this trip.
Boy, was I disappointed.
Up until about a year and a half ago you could freely enter Park Guëll and consequently go wherever you wanted. You could visit everything for free without having to wait in line. Now, it seems they (whoever “they” are) deem it necessary to control the amount of visitors within the park. You can still enter freely, but you need to have tickets for the section with the most beautiful (and most famous) parts of Park Guëll.
Don’t get me wrong, we would gladly have paid a couple of euros to get inside. What was out of the question, however, was waiting three and a half hours to get in. We got there at one o’clock, but if we had bought tickets at that moment we wouldn’t have been able to actually get in and see the majority of the park until half past four.
I was so mad, you don’t even want to know. I now know how seething feels (again, might have been the heat). Honestly, though, I think it’s ridiculous they decided to handle this like this. Seems to me someone found another way to make a whole lot of money.
Well, that was Park Guëll.
It was really beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but not being able to see the best part kind of ruined it for me.
We did run into this cute little fella in a tree, though, which cheered me up a bit.
We walked around for a little while longer, and tried to catch a glimpse of the famous dragon through the fences. I kind of felt like leaving though, so we headed back outside, had some lunch and returned to the hotel, where we rested for a bit.
After I was done being cranky and was a little less tired, we took the subway back into Barri Gotìc, which we wanted to see some more of. We had fun walking around and going into a couple of cute shops. We also had dinner there and got to talking with an Indian man who lived in New York, which was such a fun experience! We talked about poverty, university and India and China… It kind of made my day!
Then we headed back towards our hotel, and had another mojito in a cute bar on the way. I didn’t take any photos on our very last day, but that mostly consisted of walking around the neighbourhood some more and making sure we were on time for the bus to the airport.
It was a lot of fun to go on this trip with my mother, and we had a wonderful time in Barcelona! I definitely want to return some day to see even more of it!