Everyone we talked to back home said how much they liked Spain. The place sounded like some kind of sun mecca – a place of endless sangria and a tapa heaven – and, to be honest, I can’t say that it wasn’t that!
Daniel and I only gave ourselves three days in Spain – well, Barcelona, to be more exact. Retrospectively, it wasn’t enough! Yet, our short stay did allow us to see the lively city’s key sights and attractions.
Staying right in the city – in Montjuic – many of the city’s restaurants and bars were right on our doorstep. We had fun picking out a tapas bar and enjoying various compilations of meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables laid atop of thick cuts of baguette. Furthermore, with bakeries and fruit stalls around every corner, we were spoilt for choice.
Now, of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without visiting a number of works created by the city’s famous modernist architect, Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). I think it is safe to say that the Sagrada Familia is Gaudí’s most famous architectural achievement. And what a sight it is!
The large – and still unfinished – Roman Catholic church was like nothing we had seen before. Its curving structures and fruit-topped spires were completely different to the Gothic designs of the churches we’d seen in Northern Europe. Taking on elements of Art Nouveau, the church was covered in curly, decorative sculptures, with detailed, concrete foliage adjoining one saint to another. Oh, and that was only the outside!
Inside, the church’s huge and abundant pillars stretched far above the ground, eventually branching outward like the arms of giant trees. The light that streamed in from the tall stained glass windows ranged from warm yellows and reds to cool blues and greens with all of the colours contributing to the magical atmosphere of the unique church. I truly struggle to find the words to describe the place, it was so different, so out of this world! But, then again, maybe that’s the point…
But Gaudí’s ability to impress doesn’t stop there. And while I don’t want to ramble on, I do think that Park Güell deserves a mention. Situated on Carmel Hill, Gaudí’s architectural park somehow manages to both overlook the colourful city of Barcelona whilst also delivering to its visitors a sense of being away from the hustle and bustle of urban living. Park Güell took us on a journey to a mosaic wonderland, and, quite possibly, to the home of the Gingerbread man himself. Such fun!
When Gaudí’s out-of-the-box designs could be comprehended no more, and Daniel proclaimed that the park was “just weird” (I think he meant this in a complimentary way…), we sought refuge at the beach and in great food!
Strolling through the Mercat de la Boqueria (La Boqueira Market), we were spoiled for choice. The market had so many foods on offer; from cuts of cold meats, fresh seafood paella to sweet pastries and juicy peaches; the selection was simply mouth-watering. Hand on heart, I can safely say that Spain is a food lover’s dream – and the food is cheap too!
We also loved a small doughnut place, Lukumás, that Daniel referred us to from Tripadvisor. Okay, so doughnuts mightn’t be a traditional Spanish treat, but, hey, it’s always a good time for delicious, doughy morsels, right?! No matter what kind of food you’re after in Barcelona, you can be sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.
Belly-satisfactions aside, Barcelona had other stops to pull. Montjuic Mountain proved an excellent place for a late night picnic and outdoor film-screening (yay to summer cinema festivals) and the beach, as one would expect, was a pleasing mix of fine, sandy shores, tepid Mediterranean water and partially naked Europeans (okay, the latter was a little TMI!). The city really did have so much on offer!
As we prepared for our flight to Naples – the gateway for our Italian adventure – we agreed that we’d be back in Spain. Whether it be in a few years or in decades to come, we are certain that our appreciation of the vibrant city will guide us there once more. So, taking inspiration from Arnold, it’s not adiós, but hasta la vista, baby. Until next time, Barcelona.