Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Barcelona, Spain: Architecture

Actual date of this event: 17 &18 September

One of the most amazing aspects of Barcelona is its architecture. There are so many different styles of buildings that make it impossible to walk down the street without snapping a single photo. We spent a good part of our first two days wandering in the areas of L'Eixample and Gracia seeing as many unique buildings as possible.
We arrived in the early afternoon on Wednesday, and were disappointed flying in to see clouds in the sky (it ended up clearing by the time we got into the city). After taking a bus from the airport, then another bus to our apartment (we should have walked this one though - the city buses don't quite follow the timetable), we arrived to our AirBnB located in the El Born area of La Ribera. Although we loved the location and the air conditioning, this apartment was easily my least favorite AirBnB we have stayed in. 1.) it smelled like dog (coincidentally, I have a sense of smell like a dog), 2.) we were told upon arriving that someone would be coming for an hour to take a look at the apartment for a potential long-term stay, 3.) it was listed as having a washer (which we necessary for our 6 day stay in a sweaty destination), but that washer was actually a dishwasher (sooooo, are we supposed to wash our clothes in the dishwasher????), and 4.) on the last day, the cleaning lady showed up early before it was time for us to leave and began her duties while we were still there, awkward. So since we needed to be out of the apartment for an hour immediately upon arriving, we grabbed lunch around the corner at Lonja de Tapas, then headed to the market to buy supplies for our stay.
We dropped our bags, and then it was time to explore! We headed toward the waterfront first. We immediately noticed how lively the city is at all times of day... even when the Catalans should be taking their nap.

We eventually made it to Mirador de Colom, which is the monument to Colombus, in honor of his first voyage to the Americas.

Next, we strapped our bags tightly to our bodies in preparation for the pickpocket-walk up La Rambla. So many people have been pickpocketed in Barcelona, and many have happened on La Rambla. I didn't get a sense that anything fishy was going on, but it was very crowded so I'm sure that thieves were on duty.

We wandered into Mercat de la Boqueria, the top tourist market of the city. It was very busy even though many of the stalls had already closed for the day. We made our way back here another day with hopes of eating at one of the tapas bars, but the crowds were unbearable, so we left very quickly.

For the rest of the day, we wandered a bit in El Raval, stopping for drinks and walking some more. That evening, we had dinner at Taller de Tapas (a decent chain restaurant) in La Ribera. We had an early morning on Thursday, so we did the best we could to get home at a decent hour, which is difficult to do in Spain.

On Thursday morning, I booked us a tour at La Sagrada Familia for 9:30am. Luke and I hopped on the metro since the massive church is pretty far from the main city centre. I will go into detail on La Sagrada Familia in another post because there are way too many pictures to include it in this one.
After La Sagrada Familia, we decided to go on a little architecture walk thru L'Eixample that I found in our Barcelona book. Along the way we saw some of the most famous buildings in Barcelona, some not as famous ones, and some that weren't even noted on the map that were just as pretty.
 Below: Next door to each other are two famous homes - on the left is Casa Amatller, on the right is Casa Batllo
 Next few pictures: Casa Batllo

 Next few pictures: Casa Amatller, along with pictures of the inside

 Below: La Pedrera (formerly Casa Mila), Guadi's masterpiece. This is a must-do when visiting Barcelona, which we unfortunately missed out on. We hope to go back to see it though!

We stopped for lunch at La Bodegueta Provenca, which was more like a meal rather than tapas, no big deal though because it was very good. Next, we decided to do another walk from the book that took us through a bunch of squares in the area of Gracia. This walk was mostly uphill, and I am pretty sure we were the only tourists in the area. We stopped for a drink in PlaƧa de la RevoluciĆ³ de Setembre del 1868 which happens to be one of our most memorable times in Barcelona. We loved watching the locals interact with each other, and feeling like we were one of them!

Below: Wandering Barcelona in the afternoon has a completely different feel than the evening. In the afternoon, businesses shut down for a few hours - most have a metal garage door that pulls down to completely close off the business, and almost all of these garage doors are graffitied giving the city a grungy look. In the evening and night, the city comes to life as the graffitied doors disappear and businesses open their doors to customers. (Because of this, we spent our mornings sleeping in, and we spent our nights out and about!)

Eventually, we reached our next goal of Park Guell. Located even further up the hill, we took the outdoor escalator up the hill just in time for our booking to enter the park. It is essential to book La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell prior to visiting Barcelona! Again, I will go into detail on Park Guell in another post.
After we visited the park, we took the metro back to Barri Gotic, and began our evening of drinks and wandering.

For dinner on Thursday night, we found a tiny Moroccan place in the Jewish Quarter called Salterio that was really good given its small menu and extremely laid back atmosphere. This area is very small, but neat to wander in at night!
We finished the evening making our way to La Ribera for a few last drinks before calling it a day. What a long day it was! I was definitely feeling it - I calculated on a map that we walked at least 13.5 miles which I believe is our record. It was a terrific 13.5 miles though! More to come...

Other posts from Barcelona: TeaserArchitectureLa Sagrada Familia & Park GuellBarceloneta & the WaterfrontChurches & MontjuicCamp Nou, Torre Agbar & La Merce

La Rambla is the most famous boulevard in Barcelona, but it is actually five streets joined together to make one long 2km stretch. Because of this, it is also referred to as Las Ramblas.

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