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Barcelona: Part One
Barcelona: Part One
Barcelona: Part One

It’s been so fun sharing our adventures in Provence over the last few days! I actually switched the order of the trip, since we visited Barcelona before heading to France. Since this was our “last hurrah” trip, E and I each chose a place we really wanted to visit. His pick was Barcelona, which he had previously visited back in his college days. He loved it so much that he wanted to come back and show me his favorite spots!

If you’re interested in checking out the rest of our trip, you can find the posts here:

Provence: Part 1 + Part 2 + Part 3
Barcelona: Part 1 (you are here) + Part 2


Generally we like to plan our big trips with a more fast-paced destination at the beginning, and then a more leisurely location at the end. E and I are both workaholics (or at least I used to be before COVID hit) and it helps us transition to vacation better if we can be on our feet and exploring a lot. We LOVE to walk everywhere and when we first arrive to big cities, we love to just wander around with no specific destination in mind.

Our Airbnb was located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, which is the historic city center of Barcelona. One of its jewels is the Barcelona Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century – although its current ornate facade was added in the 19th century.

The square surrounding the cathedral has such a lovely vibe, and we enjoyed grabbing churros, eating them on the steps, and people-watching.

Here’s our Airbnb! To enter, you step through a tiny nondescript door facing the street, and then this magical courtyard takes you by surprise:

Although I generally prefer staying in really bright and airy places, we welcomed the cool shade of our apartment for the week. It was such a lovely respite from the summer heat.

My favorite part of our apartment was this little patio! We sat out here almost every morning and sipped coffee. We weren’t in a hurry to start each day since it was more enjoyable to walk around when the sun was lower in the sky, so we enjoyed our lazy time here. 🙂

An inscription inside the courtyard…I tried to translate this from Latin but didn’t have much luck. If anyone cares to share what it means, I would love to know!

We enjoyed walking around La Boqueria, a large public market located right off of La Rambla. Look at all those colors!

E’s favorite? Jamón y queso, or ham and cheese. You can make this man very happy with food.

After filling up on snacks at the market, we craved something a little more substantial and headed to a popular restaurant around the corner. A++!

Here’s the famous La Rambla, which is a long, tree-lined street for pedestrians. It’s always crowded with vendors and tourists, and its energy is particularly vibrant and unique. We had been warned many times about pickpockets from both locals and friends back home, so we took extra caution on top of our already careful routine. Admittedly, I got a little stressed trying to make sure my camera stayed safe, but we did return home with all our belongings!

We kept finding these orange blooms dusting the streets and I found them absolutely mesmerizing. If anyone knows what they’re called, I’ll be forever grateful!

Everyone raves about Sagrada Família, which is Antoni Gaudí’s largest and most famous work. It’s been under construction since 1882, and I’m convinced they keep drawing out the building because it’s part of the appeal now. Supposedly it will be finished on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death (2026).

I’m sure I’ll frustrate some people by admitting this, but we actually chose not to visit the interior. Every time we passed the exterior, we saw endless line of tourists (we visited during the height of the summer tourist season due to timing the lavender in Provence), and we wanted to avoid that at all costs. Big crowds are just not our jam, no matter how incredible the destination.

Here’s Sagrada Família from a much different viewpoint! This was the beginning of our walk through the Can Baró neighborhood to get to the Carmel Bunkers.

We got a little lost with Google Maps and ended up asking for directions from some locals instead. They directed us to a shortcut through this beautiful alley…

…and finally we made it to the top! Such a stunning view and 100% worth the hike.

One of our favorite things to do in Europe? Grab a cheap bottle of wine and find a beautiful place to watch the sunset. The Carmel Bunkers did NOT disappoint and we would definitely recommend visiting this spot if you find yourself in Barcelona!


It’s a popular spot among both locals and tourists…lots of musicians and yogis and young people just having a good time.


The next day we woke up bright and early for another adventure: to see Park Güell! Like most of the Gaudí sites in Barcelona, it’s a very popular tourist destination, so we wanted to find a way to beat the crowds. After reading some tips online, we learned that the gates to the park actually open at 6:00 a.m., so we woke up at 4:30 a.m. and caught the bus to be the first ones there. The park doesn’t start selling tourist tickets until 9:30 a.m., so it’s incredibly empty first thing in the morning. For the first ten minutes or so, we had the entire plaza to ourselves and it was well worth the early alarm. One of my favorite memories from the entire trip, for sure! 🙂

Isn’t Gaudí’s style so funky and colorful? I can’t say I was a superfan before visiting Barcelona, but now I definitely appreciate his characteristic and very recognizable style.

I found it fascinating that Parc Güell was never intended to be a park at all; it was actually intended to become a luxury residential development (the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, the park’s namesake). The beautiful views and fresh air (far above the city’s smoky factories) should have been a big draw for upper-class tenants. However, ultimately only two houses (as well as the often-pictured caretaker’s lodge and administration building, AKA real-life gingerbread houses) came to fruition. One of those houses ended up becoming Gaudí’s residence for the last twenty years of his life.

El Drac, Gaudí’s mosaic salamander, now serves as a symbol of Barcelona. It’s said to be good luck!

Hipóstila Hall, or Hall of Columns, was sadly under construction at the time of our visit. I found it fascinating that the columns apparently serve as an elaborate drainage system for rainwater.

Here is Gaudí’s home, which has now been turned into a museum.

We built up quite an appetite walking around the park grounds, and after the crowds began to pick up, we headed out to grab breakfast. We discovered Brunch & Cake thanks to online reviews!

We wrapped up the morning by walking to see Casa Batlló, another of Gaudí’s famous works. My favorite part of this ornate building is the balconies – some say they look like masks, and others say they look like skulls.

After heading back to our Airbnb to sleep off the early wakeup call, we felt like taking a lazier afternoon and decided to catch one of those “hop on, hop off” tour buses. That’s usually not our style, but I have to admit that it was money WELL spent. An air-conditioned bus on a super hot day? Sign me up! Plus, it was a great way to cover a lot of ground, since Barcelona is a HUGE city and it’s difficult to cover the entire place on foot.

We rarely split up when we travel together, but E *really* wanted to visit Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona. He is OBSESSED with the Barcelona soccer team – when we started dating, I quickly learned about the importance of Messi, haha! Unfortunately there weren’t any games scheduled during the week we were in town, but E was still so excited to tour the stadium and see the home of his favorite team! He texted me the happiest selfie from the field 🙂

Meanwhile, I spent a blissed out couple of hours hanging out at Café Cometa.

That night we met up again and headed to Barceloneta Beach, the most well-known beach in Barcelona. That area almost felt like its own city – so bustling and full of people enjoying the sand and the water.

Blog readers often ask how we get photos of the two of us while on vacation. I prefer to leave the tripod at the hotel when we’re walking a lot, so most often, I take a gamble and ask a trustworthy-looking stranger to take a photo for us. I select the settings ahead of time and cross my fingers that it comes out in focus. We’ve gotten some real gems that way! This one didn’t work out as well, but I actually love the mood of the accidental focus. A happy accident 😉 Thank you, kind stranger!

That’s a wrap for the first part of our time in Barcelona! Part two (the final part of our Spain/France trip) coming tomorrow! 🙂


If you’re interested in checking out the rest of our trip, you can find the posts here:

Provence: Part 1 + Part 2 + Part 3
Barcelona: Part 1 (you are here) + Part 2

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