There are birds having a massive fight outside my window and I’m really struggling to focus on this post right now. But I’ll persevere, because Barcelona was a dream. From Gaudi and Picasso to sangria and stuffed aubergine, I loved every second.
I travelled with my Mum who is queen of the girls’ holiday. While she took care of the flights, I arranged the accommodation – and what else but an Airbnb? We found a ground floor loft on a backstreet just off La Rambla and within walking distance of the Barri Gotic and the waterfront. It was a cute place, even if a little less slick that my other Airbnb experiences. We were surrounded by bars – not the kind tourists usually find. That photo at the top was our street, which I loved. Unfortunately it wasn’t easy to find, and I think we terrified a Spanish neighbour across the street asking for help. Feeling guilty about that one…
We travelled everywhere by foot or using the metro which was probably the best metro system I’ve tried abroad. My Mum found it hilarious that the metro was one of my highlights. But it was! Barcelona is quite a small city though, so you could easily walk between most of the famous parts and work on your tan at the same time. Even I started to look a bit sun-kissed…
My Mum enjoys history when she travels, whereas my priority is finding the best local food. So we had a histo-food fusion trip, and we knew we were winning when we found Barcelona’s oldest restaurant! It’s called Can Culleretes because regulars became used to the waiter shouting for more cutlery as the restaurant got busier and busier. It’s a gem, go find it.
Hands down the best cultural part of our city break was Museo Picasso which was just amazing. I couldn’t recognise Picasso’s early work, and we gradually saw his adventurous style appear as we moved through the galleries. Loved it! We also loved Catedral de Barcelona, and for me in particular the solo musicians taking advantage of the quieter streets behind it. Don’t forget to look up, there are some magical gargoyles keeping watch. Although, I think I blasphemed about a dozen times when we visited – I’m sorry! There were just lots of ‘oh my god’ moments…
And because not every trip is perfect, the lesson learned this time was to definitely book Park Güell tickets in advance if you want any hope of seeing Gaudi’s Monumental Zone. We made it all the way out there at around 10.30am, only to find out the next entrance slot would be 5.30pm! It’s okay though, it’s a bit like Edinburgh Castle in that if you walk to the right bit, you can see just about enough to make the trip worthwhile (and keep your Instagram pretty). Here’s what we managed to glimpse for free:
Are you ready for the cliche landmark? It’s okay, it can’t really be cliche if it’s not even finished being built yet, right?
La Sagrada Familia was a special kind of incredible. Back home we’ve got a pretty nice bridge being built, but this was something new entirely! The modern statues were unbelievably imaginative, and we watched stones being added right in front of us. History in the making. We didn’t stick around for long though because it was a tourist hive, but my Mum tells me the inside is as beautiful as you would expect. I just wanted some food.
La Boqueria just of La Rambla is a huge market, perfect if you want to pick up snacks for a picnic. I saw more types of olives than I ever knew existed! Speaking of La Rambla, it’s pretty, but far too busy to be a real highlight for me. But, if you look past the tourist traps, you can start to appreciate it a little more – and it’s amazing for getting your bearings. “Oh look, it’s a tree! That must be La Rambla, we’re going the right way” (said multiple times during our trip).
Most of our favourite restaurants were in the Barri Gotic and we found ourselves wandering past the cathedral and the old city walls every day. This is also where my favourite shops were – and I’m talking about the big shops that are more or less everywhere in the world. Mango, H&M, Pull & Bear, Zara…you name it. They’re so much better than the British versions – they’re bigger, more colourful and open til 10pm (why are ours not open til 10pm?!). For independent shops, I loved everywhere around Museo Picasso – shoe shops, fan shops, boutiques, and of course, art shops.
Okay so we got a little carried away on our last day. I felt like we’d had a couple of disappointing snacks (I’m talking about a particular cake shop that was a massive downer), and somehow we had to make up for this. We ate out five times on our last day – shocking I know! I present to you my favourite food of Barcelona:
Taberna Milgrito’s was an accidental find with the friendliest mixologists we met in Spain! This amazing cheeseboard was offered to us after we were told the kitchen was closed – if this is what a closed kitchen in Barcelona looks like, then I’m moving. The breadsticks were completely alien to us – we had never seen any so thin, and they were surprisingly tasty. And that mojito, oh my goodness.
Even if you’re not looking for a big meal, Barcelona is full of speciality food shops. It could be cheese, ham, chocolate, wine, whatever…you can skip the supermarkets completely.
Of course, I’m saving my favourite restaurant until last. We came across this little place one night after leaving the beautiful Plaça Reial (where I ate the most amazing red velvet cake at Les Quinze Nits). It’s a vegetarian restaurant, and I went for a full three courses plus a delicious wine. The music was perfect, the restaurant tucked away, and the service lovely. La Cereria is a must visit if you’re going to Barcelona!
There’s so much more, including El Bosc de les Fades where we had cocktails with my Aunt and Uncle one night. It’s a fairy bar recommended to me by Josh – you’ll find it tucked behind the wax museum. But, it goes without saying that my favourite part of this trip was hanging out with my Mum, even if she did find the creme brûlée in Paris better than Barcelona’s Crema Catalana!