After enjoying museum trips all over Vienna, and engaging in talks about art history in Rome, it was finally time to head over to the most popular city in Spain — Barcelona.
What I particularly love about Barcelona is that art is literally everywhere.
Antoni Gaudi was an artist and architect who felt so passionate about nature that he wanted many others to experience what he did when he would look up to the trees of the forest, to the birds singing, and wonders of the sun.
Maybe Gaudi’s work inspired many of Barcelona’s beauty and charm, which I’ve come to really admire after going to various cities all over the continent.
Here you’ll find a collection of experiences during my stay in the Catalan capital that have impacted me deeply. I can only hope they do the same for you.
1. Visiting La Sagrada Familia for the first time
I’m not a religious person. However, I’ve always dreamt about seeing La Sagrada Familia before and after it was completed. This was Gaudi’s greatest work and to see it still being made after a hundred years just blows my mind.
And maybe you might not be a big fan, but La Sagrada Familia is truly a sight to behold. It will make you feel like you’re in a geometric forest with light shining through everywhere you go. It feels easy to get lost in and admire each carefully planned detail.
2. Seeing Gaudi’s work everywhere in the city
What makes Barcelona so unique is Antoni Gaudi’s work in about five buildings (exluding La Sagrada) scattered through the city centre. Plus, you also have to add his many other pieces that act as chairs, lamp posts, and even signs. It’s a far cry from the gothic medieval architecture that’s predominant in many European countries you’ll come across.
3. Living right behind Casa Battlo
If you went to Barcelona last May (2016), you might be surprised to find a pixie-haired Filipina saying “hello” to every tourist from her apartment’s open window. Yep. That was me. Ugh.
But anyway, our aparthotel was right behind Casa Battlo which gave me a good view of the structure every morning. If you’re wondering, the Aparthotel is U-nique Rambla Catalunya Aparthotel.
4. Getting lost and then climbing for hours to arrive at the top of Parc Guell
Listen, if your bus ever stops at a foothold before the main entrance for Parc Guell and then you find a sign that tells you to go up the road..Don’t. That will take you about 2–3 hours of non-stop walking to reach the top of a neighborhood surrounding the park. Oh, and this is coincidentally also where all the tour buses hang out at (but you weren’t on a tour, so).
Although I have to admit that this view is worth it. Plus, you’ll definitely get the chance to walk around the park a little longer on your way down where you “accidentally” find out that the main entrance was only 5 minutes away from where your bus dropped you off.
5. Witnessing a FC Barcelona Sunday parade
I’m just going to assume you know that the Spanish (or Catalans in Barcelona) are as passionate about football/soccer as they are about their wine!
Anyhow, FC Barcelona celebrates around the city centre by holding a parade right after a match they won. This is usually around Las Ramblas and Plaza de Catalunya where you’ll be one of the many cheering them on and feeling so giddy at having seen Messi, Neymar, and Suarez in person.
6. Being a stone’s throw away from a chain of restaurants
Location. Location. Location.
I’m not associated with U-Nique Rambla Catalunya Aparthotel in any way or form but gotta say — this is probably the best Aparthotel I’ve stayed at in my entire trip around Europe. It’s right in front of three Spanish restaurants that serve great sangria, steak, and croquettes! If you walk a little further down, you’ll be greeted with many bakeries, tapas bars, and more TripAdvisor-recommended restaurants.
My advice is finding a hotel/Aparthotel/AirBnB in Rambla Catalunya because even though it’s a bit pricier, but then again, everything is easily accessible.
7. Getting introduced to the colours of La Boqueria Market
Candies, fruits, juice, and even great gambas is everywhere in this market! You’ll go a little crazy trying tons of unique chocolates, checking out the cheese, and even wondering if you’ll have the chance to bring some meat home.
One thing to take note, however, is that the market is closed on Sundays. So be sure to check it out on another day as sometimes it can have some new food you can try or bring home.
8. Finding out what it means when you say “Tapas”
…and then proceeding to eat Gambas, Paella Negra, and some pasta all in one go.
Tapas are small portions of food like Gambas, Paella, and your pasta of choice. In fact, you can even have small meat portions, seafood, and cake while you’re there! That’s what we call Tapas, and it goes great when you’re a lover of Sangria or Red Wine.
9. Walking around at 11pm still being able to hear Children’s laughter
Maybe it’s just me but having lived in the Philippines since birth has made me privy about children going out late at night. Especially when you live in the Metro, knowing full well it’s not safe for them to be anywhere without their parents.
But in Barcelona, it’s different. Children are out playing with their toys or riding their scooters without parental supervision because it’s considered safe. Plus, being in Spain means that people are still having dinner around this hour.
It’s honestly refreshing.
10. Realising that Barcelona will make you feel alive
Probably the main reason why I love Barcelona so much is that, it’s the first European city that makes me feel alive. Even simply walking to my destination makes me feel so happy that it’s like a little home I’ve found at the other side of the world.
So here’s to hoping that when you find yourself here, it does the same for you!