One of our thoughts when deciding to move here was that we would be able to “fly on up to fill-in-the-blank-European-city for the weekend.” However, while we have done a lot of traveling, we have also done a lot of not traveling and just hanging out on our free weekends (hello, Netflix). We haven’t actually done a weekend trip anywhere, just the two of us, but we fixed that this past weekend. We realized that Sean had four days off and wasn’t on call (meaning that he was allowed to actually leave Sicily) so we decided to go somewhere. We let flight prices and schedules determine our location, and Barcelona came out the winner. Friday night I booked our flights and hotel, and Saturday morning we were on a plane.
Barcelona was lovely. After living in Sicily for the past year, I really really appreciate cities that are clean and well organized. Barcelona was so easy to get around. The bus to and from the airport costs 6 Euro and runs every 5 minutes. Every FIVE. And it takes you right to the middle of town. Their public buses are actually on schedule, and the stops have a countdown telling you how long to the next bus. And the metro? Super easy. Super clean. The city streets are very walkable, and there’s no garbage. I can’t tell if Barcelona was actually exceptional, or if my standards are just lower, but at any rate, it was very nice.
We spent a lot of time wandering around, and hit the big tourist highlights. We saw a bit of the work by Gaudi, the famous Catalan architect, who did a lot of work in Barcelona. Gaudi was very revolutionary, using new techniques in both the structural design of the building, but also the decoration. Gaudi was very inspired by nature, which you can see in his work.
Casa Batllo was remodeled in 1906 by Gaudi and was the private home of the Batllo family. The home is fun and beautiful.
The current owners have it open for tours, and have done a really impressive job. You get a smartphone, and as you go through the building you hold the phone up and the screen shows you what the room would have looked like originally, or what Gaudi’s inspiration was.
We also saw Casa Mila, which is just up the street. It was built just after Casa Batllo. The owners lived on the ground floor, while the upper floors were rented out as apartments. People still live in the building.
Gaudi’s most famous work is La Sagrada Familia, a massive church in the center of Barcelona. He worked on it for the last 40 years of his life. Work began on the church in 1882, and it is not yet finished. It is expected to complete in 2026. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Even in it’s incomplete state, it’s well worth seeing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Park Guell, located on a hill up above the city. It’s a beautiful area with lots of neat architecture (Gaudi, again), and beautiful trails and public areas.
Our second day there we walked all over. Down to the harbor, up around the castle and the Olympic stadium up on Montjuic hill, and into a few beautiful Gothic churches.
Oh, and the food! Tapas and sangria for days.