When I think about Barcelona, I think of the music, the beach and the passion in people. When I got to Barcelona, I experienced a lot more than just what I imagined.
Barcelona for me is a dream vacation destination because it gathers everything in one city. In fact, despite not a capital city, Barcelona is the most visited city in Europe after London and Paris.
First day in Barcelona, I visited the Gothic Quarter. The architecture was very different from that in France, but very beautiful, and especially when I could experience it from the old part of the city. Coming out of one narrow corridor, I’d appear in front of a bright square. Maybe it was the city hall, or maybe it was an artist gathering. The Gothic Quarter was filled with antique shops and restaurants with tapas, and tapa tasting is a must do when visiting Barcelona. Everything was as good as it can be. Some are traditional when others are very creative, and some of require a bit bravery to put it on my plate, but it always ends up to be an excellent decision, and me going back for more.
The Picasso Museum is located in the Gothic Quarter, and I loved that I can see the development or evolution of Picasso’s paintings, including his blue and rose period. After spending two hours in the museum, we went for the popular dish. With its rich flavors, it was more than delicious, and we came out still licking our fingers.
We explored the Ciutadella Park for the sunny afternoon. It was an extensive park, despite some sites were under construction. Tons of people were just relaxing and looking content. I would be too if this were a city I live in.
The next time was the time to walk down the famous Las Ramblas. Though I will admit the La Boqueria Market was more of my interest, and it lived up to its reputation. It has everything I could possibly want. Ham? Check! Seafood? Check! Veggies and fruits? You’ve got it! Cookies and chocolate? For sure! Circling around the market made my stomach very happy. My wallet, on the other hand? Not so much. However, every penny was worth it.
Foodie alert! I did not know hot chocolate was a big thing in Barcelona. But apparently it is, and there was even a chocolate street in the Gothic Quarter. They do not mess around with their hot chocolate, which is for eating, not drinking. Dip some freshly fried chorizos in, I know what heaven is like.
After partying until the sun came up, we thought hiking to Mont Juic Castle was a good idea to cure our hangover. It turned out to be a great idea. The view up there was spectacular and getting some fresh air definitely helped as well. We did not actually go into the castle, but we decided to visit the botanic garden. It presents plants from all over the globe, including cactus from California… Moreover, it was a nice park to walk around for a sunny day.
Of course, we attended a Gaudi Tour on our last day, leaving the best for the latest. I’ve been excited about seeing the Sagrada Familia and what else Gaudi has designed in the city. Sagrada Familia was magical, to say at the least. Though unfinished, its towers, its carvings, and its stain glasses are enough to attract millions of visitors each year. The government is determined to use the money to finish the rest of the towers by 2026. That only means one thing, I will have to come back then to see what a finished “Holy Family” looks like.
For now, the exterior itself has already blown my mind. Not just how tall the towers stand, but from a different side, the architecture tells an entirely different story. From one side, it was about birth and prosperity, whereas from the other side, it was about death and crucifixion. The carving is so detailed that I can almost feel Jesus’ pain from the whipping on the cross. The inside is only another kind of magical. The tree-branching structure Gaudi invented to let the columns hold more weight, and the stain glasses with various colors only make the place sacred. The museum tells a detailed story of the history of Sagrada Familia, and it is not hard to see how much it has changed from the original plan since Gaudi took over the project, including a model how Gaudi calculated the height of the towers. Everyone who looked at his calculation was stunned at his accuracy. To answer Gaudi’s professor’s question, I do think he granted the degree to a genius more than a mad man.
The last night of my stay in Barcelona, I stumped upon a soccer game in a bar. Apparently, besides us, everyone went to the bar that night for the game because Barcelona was playing against Liverpool. Sadly, Barcelona lost 0-4, and there was no Messi Magic. It was something else seeing how invested everyone was. Turning around, I just saw people all stoned faced at the unavoidable loose for their favorite team. I guess it would be quite dangerous if someone
Nevertheless, I went to bed, wishing Messi performed some magic in the last 15 min of the game.