If you’ve never been to Barcelona, put it on your list. I loved it!! Have been twice before, but this time I really took it all in since we were there for three weeks. Since I last blogged, our days have been filled with seeing the sites, walking the streets, art classes, cooking classes, the beach and more! There was also time for days and hours of down time when everyone was exhausted and didn’t want to go out. So homework, mine craft and Harry Potter filled those days.
I was going to try to make this short in text and long in pictures if I could, but then it started to get away from me 🙂 It also took me awhile to get pictures downloaded – you never know how internet will be when you’re away from home.
I would like to give a few tips here and there and some suggestions for those people who might be reading this and heading to Barcelona soon – we seem to have people from all over the world reading our blog, which is cool. If you have kids and are heading to this city, grab the book Mission Barcelona. It is a small book you can tuck into your suitcase – remember we are in carry ons – and it is a great guide for kids. It works as a scavenger hunt as you tour the city and major attractions. It makes sightseeing more fun and gives kids a reason to get out and see the sites even when they might not want to 🙂 I will also be getting the same book for Rome, Paris and London.
We were staying in L’Eixample neighborhood on Girona at Arago. This was a great neighborhood. La Concepcion market and grocery story were around the corner. We now rate our places not only on how they are on the inside, but whether or not there is a good market nearby – it makes it so much easier when you are staying at an apartment. We were also by some decent neighborhood restaurants – Betlem, Rene and a great fresh pasta store, Pilia Pasta – not a sit down place, but a place to grab fresh pasta, lasagna, raviolis and homemade sauces to take home. Be sure to try the dried dessert pasta – yummy! We also took a night off of Spanish food and Dave and I walked to Cafe Emma – a great French place with fresh oysters, escargot and french onion soup. Another place a short walk away was La Pepita – probably my favorite dinner of the trip! Delicious, gourmet tapas with a fun atmosphere with lots of graffiti on the walls. It’s small, so get there early. We enjoyed this dinner with Liz, a friend from San Francisco and her roommate, Lindsay, who were on a short holiday. So fun to be able to see friends while we travel!
La Sagrada Familia – Another amazing, if not the most amazing, building designed by Antoni Gaudi. The building began in 1882, but won’t be done for another 10 years. The stained glass windows are probably the prettiest I have ever seen. For those of you who are planning a visit, bring your own headphones. The audio guide is great and they have a separate one for kids, which I appreciate, but the ear buds were uncomfortable. The girls and I couldn’t actually keep them in, so they didn’t end up listening to the tour – I relayed what I heard to them. Just a tip. Had empanadas and gin and tonics at cute pub across from the park next to the cathedral – Piacere Caffe.
Park Guell – It never gets old seeing Gaudi’s work. It is so unsual and unique. Park Guell is no exception. It has great views of the city and ocean in the distance. The girls loved running around and hiding any place they could find.
Mosaiccos Art Class – To enhance the learning of Gaudi, I read about an art class for the girls. Really, adults can do it too, we saw a few working on amazing projects while we were there. The girls spent two afternoons at Mosaiccos – they liked it so much the first time, they wanted to do it again. Angelika, the owner, was great with the girls. They picked out what they wanted to create and then set out to do their own mosaics. They learned to cut the glass and glue it down. These will be great momentos of their time in Barcelona and will hopefully remind them of Gaudi and all that they saw.
Cooking class and Boqueria Tour – Cooking is always a fun way to enjoy a new country. Barcelona Cooking School was great! Candido was our chef for the day and started out by giving us an amazing tour of the famous La Boqueria on La Rambla. It’s one of the biggest markets of its kind in the world! They have everything you could need and more. The girls each had to come up with the craziest three foods they saw and here are some of them: goat’s head, blood, pig tongue, brain, and a bull’s penis – yup, you read that correctly.
Cooking was a fun way to spend the afternoon. It was a small group of 11 people. We cooked butternut squash and pear soup, Spanish tortilla, seafood paella, tomato bread and crema catalana. It was great for the girls who peeled and chopped pears, potatoes, chopped onions, spread garlic and tomato on bread and enjoyed the fruits of the labor.
Figueres – We took a day trip from Barcelona to Figueres, home of the Dali Museum. We had heard about how great it was and were told by numerous locals that we had to go. We decided to do an overnight since it was a two hour train ride to the small town. It is worth it if you have the time and of course if you are a Dali fan. His surrealism art can be a little weird for some, for example the girls counted how many butts and boobs they saw throughout the exhibit – 83 to be exact. Quite humorous to see their reactions. I loved the museum!! Especially the large domed room – it’s like nothing I’ll ever see again – such a beautiful and unusual place to showcase art. The best part was his jewelry exhibit which is in a connected museum. Don’t miss it if you are there!! Doesn’t take long and is really original. We stayed at the Museum Apartments – clean, new, modern and steps away from the museum. Be aware that Dave was awake all night with the church bells ringing. Had great coffee and hot chocolates just a few doors down at Dalicatessen.
La Rambla/Plaza Catalunya – I lost count of how many times we came down here. It was walkable from our place and had everything you could need – stores – which we used numerous times to build up a winter wardrobe, restaurants, tourist shops, people watching and more. We finally made it to the end of La Rambla, where we not only saw the Christopher Columbus statue, but finally found the people dressed as statues that we had heard so much about. We were slightly disappointed because there were only 3. Supposedly there are many more in the summer when the weather is warmer and there are more tourists. We were glad we at least found a few – The John Lennon music box was pretty great. Plus we marked a few more things off in our Mission Barcelona book and Dave finally got down to the beach.
Museu de Xocolata – Cute little museum in El Born about the history of chocolate. Girls couldn’t get over that their ticket into the museum was an actual dark chocoate bar with a bar code that they scanned to get in. There were many amazing statues made of only of chocolate, plus informational panels to read and movies to see about the history of chocolate. Did you know that chocolate came from the Aztecs, but the sweetened version we know today came from a recipe made by nuns?
El Born neighborhood – I think Dave and I covered all of the little twisting alleys in this neighborhood while the girls were at art class. It’s amazing how many shops and restaurants are squeezed in next to one another. Don’t forget about siesta time – shops do close up, not all, but most. And it’s another world once they are open again.
La Pedrera – Our last day we hit the last of the Gaudi buildings we hadn’t seen yet. La Pedrera was good, but not as good as the others. The rooftop was great to see with all the curved and tiled chimneys, plus looking at one apartment as it would have been back in the day was interesting. If you are an architect buff, this one might interest you more. The attic, which was impressive with its brick archways, housed a lot of interesting displays on the architecture of it all.
Sad to leave this wonderful city, but I know we will be back. Here are just a few other restaurants we went to and liked while we were here:
La Fabrica – great small shop with homemade Argentinian Empanadas in El Born neighborhood – I think we had to go back 3 times in about 30 minutes because they were so good.
Sagardi – Great for small tapas – down near Santa Maria del Mar in El Born neighborhood. Sat outside one evening with local street musicians singing and playing guitar. This is the type of tapas place where you count the toothpicks from each piece you eat.
Canete – Enjoyed a great lunch with Dave’s friend, Amir, who was in Barcelona for a conference. You will love their motto, which is not suitable to print on this blog 🙂 It’s a block or two of La Rambla is El Raval