If there is one phrase that could describe our time in Barcelona it would be, “Just walk, we’ll find it.” Let’s just say it was a good thing I tried out every Dr. Scholl’s insole before leaving on this backpacking trip. This worked out perfectly because Barcelona is a very walkable city, with sites clustered near each other. Our hotel and hostel were both impeccably located right off one of the most popular attractions in the city, La Rambla, a mile long street filled with cafes and apparently Indian guys trying to sell roses to unsuspecting female tourists. From there we were able to walk down to the port and walk along the waterfront. There was no better way to see this area than with a fresh cup of coconut juice that we purchased every morning from one of the hundreds of stalls that sold anything from spices to pig heads at the Boqueria Market.
This quickly turned into our daily routine in Barcelona, getting up early to walk the narrow side streets that just begged to be discovered. This was probably my favorite aspect of Barcelona, especially coming from America knowing that it’s not the best idea to walk down an unfamiliar alley. The exact opposite was true here, if you want to see Burger King and McDonalds, stay on the main road, but if you’re looking for local vendors just turn down any direction. I can honestly say half of my pictures from Barcelona are of artsy looking alleys.
When we weren’t making our way through the streets of la Rambla, you could find us trying to discover the different areas of the city. Our game plan each day was to start in Placa Catalunya, and walk in one direction for the day. Walk north and you find the Sagrada Familia, walk to the West and you’re at the beach and Park Montjuic. (note none of these directions are accurate but you get the idea.) Let me tell you folks, the Sagrada Familia is all that it’s cracked up to be. We made our way into the church right as the sun was setting which was the perfect time to visit because of the way the light reflected off the hundreds of mosaics in the building. All of the different shapes and colors really separate the cathedral as one of my favorite ones in Europe. Aside from Sagrada Familia, my favorite place in all of Barcelona would have to be Park Montjuic, which is essentially a hill to the west of the city that overlooks all of Barcelona. It’s hard to miss it wherever you are walking near the port. Though my pictures don’t do it justice, I’ll always remember how surreal it was to be walking with the green of the trees always in my vantage point.
The trek to Park Montjuic is not the easiest, but the views you get are definitely worth the hike. Leer and I were able to go both during the day and at night and I would definitely recommend visiting at night, as you have all of Barcelona lit up in front of you. We also had the great opportunity to grab a drink at the top of Montjuic and be entertained by a young couple from Britain who were less than thrilled when three stray cats wanted to share their paella with them. I’m sure the woman appreciated me watching and laughing as she tried to kick these kittens away from her table. The highlight had to be her letting out a blood curdling scream as one of the kittens jumped near her legs and she shouted “I hate cats” for all 6 people sitting at the restaurant to hear.
Finally no trip to Europe would be complete without me having to blindly ask someone for directions only to be met with my old friend, the language barrier. This trip’s edition of that comes from our hilarious efforts to locate one of Gaudi’s most impressive landmarks, Parc Guell. After walking to the Sagrada Familia we thought we would try to go as far up the city as possible. Halfway up the steep sidewalks and streets, I realized that we must be heading towards Parc Guell. We thought we had followed the signs to a tee, but twenty minutes into our trek we realized that all we had done was find our way into a small neighborhood near the top of the city. In these situations there is one group of people I turn to, old ladies. I always admire the persistence and willingness to help that foreign old ladies seem to provide for me while I’m in Europe, and this was no exception. We found the sweet old lady standing outside her apartment, and when I asked her the way to Parc Guell all she could do was reply in Spanish. After exchanging puzzled expressions she took my half English, half fake Spanish explanation, and set off down the road for us to follow. Though she knew that I didn’t understand Spanish she kept looking back at me and muttering things that I’ll never understand in my lifetime. When we got to a turning point she laid out the directions for us using wild hand gestures and we were able to find Parc Guell as promised. You can look through the pictures below to see that it was definitely worth it.
Thats it for now, we’re heading out of Barcelona and will be taking the train to Avignon to head into St. Remy in Provence. Thanks for keeping up with our travels, and I can’t wait to talk with everyone when I get home. For now just keep on reading.