Oh, Barcelona

When I first began planning a trip to Barcelona, I was more focused on the Paris leg of that Europe trip than anything — I love that city dearly.  But when I mentioned my trip planning, people would say, “Oh, Barcelona?  That is my favorite city…”  Their voices would be wistful and a touch envious with the pronouncement, and now that I have been, I know exactly how they feel.  Barcelona is an amazing and vibrant city, full of modern art and culture, delicious food and wine, and a spirit that is infectious.

Eat:

La Boqueria

This is city’s most famous public market.  Fruits, cheeses, meats, and sweets make up a colorful panoply, rows upon rows.  Stop at the tiny Bar Pinotxo, and thank me later — many say they offer the best tapas in the city.  Cava at 11 A.M.?  Why yes!  Seriously delicious baby squid with white beans were had at this tiny eatery, served by the kindest older gentleman proprietor who could not have been more enthusiastic to share his food with us.  Make sure to grab some jamón and cheese to snack on as you wander.

Cèntric Canalla

My favorite place to eat tapas in Barcelona, full stop.  Bar Cèntric Canalla originally opened its doors 1862 and then reopened in 1942.  Perfect neighborhood vibe, popular with the locals, and just the yummiest tapas.  Sardine stuffed olives and patatas bravas with chili aioli?  Yes and please.  And I could not get enough of their cava sangria.

Bar Brutal

Another excellent meal was had here, complete with funky/fun decor and an excellent list of natural wines.  Again, the tapas here were delicious.  We had some out-of-this-world anchovies, amazing Spanish jamón… and order the pork sandwich.  Just do it.

Cañete

Everybody said we should go here, so we did, and we were not sorry in the slightest.  Super delicious high quality tapas, lovely staff, just an all-around amazing meal.  The omnipresent pan con tomate was delicious here, as was the deeply flavored paella.  It can get busy, but if you don’t snag a reservation, you can likely find a seat at the bar earlier in the evening.

 

Nomad Coffee

For coffee aficionados, a stop at Nomad is a must.  This darling cafe had some delicious choices, including their own roasts and extremely well-brewed coffee and espresso drinks.  Little touches like the stone tiles your drinks are served on get extra points, as does the adorable location.

 

Bonus: Ici et Là

This tiny boutique, just a couple doors down from Nomad, is exquisitely well-curated and full of the most amazing art, furniture, lighting, and homewares — all locally handmade.  I could not help but take home a pair of ceramic dishes from this charming spot.  It was a delight to browse through, and the service was impeccable.

Visit:

Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló was Antoni Gaudí’s residential masterpiece, finished in 1907. It is perhaps the best example of architectural modernism from the beginning of the 20th century, and one that Barcelona takes great pride in.  The exterior suggests some kind of mythical undersea wonderland, and every detail inside, from the dragon-esque carved wood banisters to the nautilus-inspired whorled ceilings and gradient tile at the center of the structure remind you that you’ve landed in Gaudí’s inimitable imagination.

Park Güell

Gaudí created these unique structures between 1900 and 1914.  While the original intent of a British-style residential park for the wealthy did not materialize, the grounds showcase some of Gaudí’s most unique and incredible work. Be sure to buy tickets ahead of time online, and depending on which route you take to get to the park, be prepared for a substantial uphill walk.

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Basílica de la Sagrada Familia

This was honestly one of the most beautiful masterpieces of architecture I have visited. Prepare to be awe-stuck when you walk inside, and then continue to be awe-struck with every angle and shaft of light.  Stunning, mesmerizing… I don’t have the words to adequately capture the majestic beauty of this space.  I’d advise booking tickets online ahead of time to avoid the lines and the possibility of it being sold out.

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Fundació Joan Miró

One of my favorite museums we visited on our entire trip (and boy do I love museums).  The light-filled spaces are well thought-out and feature Miró’s work brilliantly and extensively.  We also had a tasty bite at their cafe and enjoyed the variety of prints available in the shop.  A must-visit!

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Stay:

Hotel Praktik Rambla  — We stayed here, and our visit could not have been nicer.  Beautiful emerald green tile bathrooms, modern decor touches and little extras like fresh croissants each morning, a reading room, and free WiFi hotspots to borrow made our stay wonderful.

Rambla de Catalunya 27, Barcelona   http://www.hotelpraktikrambla.com/

Estimada Barcelona, I cannot wait to return again.  Adéu per ara, però no per sempre.

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