Last but not least.. Barcelona!
Matt and I hopped on a plane from Amsterdam and landed in the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. From there we hailed a cab and headed into the city to meet my parents.
We spent 3 or 4 nights (I can’t remember!) at the Cotton House Hotel, which was only a short walk away from La Rambla. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous.
La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona that has food and touristy trinkets. The street leads you to the Plaça de Catalunya and the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
That first night we wandered the streets searching for food and taking in all of the sights. We happened to stumble upon La Mercè Festival, which is a festival that honors the Patron Saint of Barcelona. Fire lit the streets, it truly was a sight to see. We ended up filling our bellies to the brim with tapas and called it a night.
On our first day, we all explored La Rambla and Port Vell. Matt and I ventured up this (massive) hill to go see Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys. This stadium was where the 1992 Summer Olympics was held. We first Stopped at the Montjuïc Castle and Jardí Botànic de Barcelona and looked out out to the port and the water. After finally reaching the stadium, we decided to go down a different way so we could see more of the city. We walked down the steps of the Archeology Museum of Catalonia. We ended up losing our way a little, but we were out of the ‘tourist’ area, and fell even more in love with the city.
Then it was time to explore the Gothic Quarter. This was my favorite part of the city. With its medieval streets, the architecture is breathtaking. There you will find the Cathedral of Barcelona, which is just a gorgeous structure. When we entered the Cathedral you will find they have the cutest swans in a courtyard. To be honest, I don’t remember the symbolic reason as to why they are placed there. I just liked looking at them.
On our second day (which was supposed to be our last), we ended up taking a guided tour throughout the city, which included a short boat ride and helicopter ride. It was incredible to be able to see the city from so high on the coastline. I want to add here that my family never does “tours.” We are the ones that wander around aimlessly for hours running into landmarks. I think the only reason why my parents wanted to do this was for the boat road and the chopper ride.
After the tour was over we were dropped off back at the Port. From there we made our way to the Arc de Triomf, Barcelona style.
We then went to the Sagrada Familia. This has to be one of the coolest, strangest thing I have ever seen. On one side of the church you have the religious side: Stages of the cross. On the other side it seems like Antoni Gaudi just added whatever he had wanted: fruit, Christmas trees, birds, snakes, people, etc. Construction started in 1882 and it still is not finished! We could even see the church from the rooftop of our hotel. We attempted to go inside, but the church was sold out for the day. A little bummed, we ended up going to La Pedrera, which is one of Gaudi’s main residential buildings. We opted out of going inside, but the outside was very modern. Next was the Casa Batlló. This building is located in the center of Barcelona and is extraordinary. The details, the color choices. I stood in awe and marveled at this beautiful structure.
We ended up walking back to our hotel to wash up before getting ready for dinner. At this point, Matt and I had to begin packing up since we were expected to fly out the next morning. But.. after not being able to go inside the Sagrada Familia, we opted in changing our flights to leave a day later and booked tickets to go inside.
Let me say this, if you are planning a trip to Barcelona – you must go to Sagrada Familia. We visited in the afternoon and the coloring inside the church was phenomenal. The warmth from the stained glass really set the tone inside the structure. On the website it states, “The rising sun lights up the portals of the Nativity facade, accentuating the joy for life that is the birth of Jesus. On the Passion facade the interplay of light and shadow produced by the setting sun heightens the sparse and severe character of the facade’s theme, while the Glory facade receives the mid-day sun that will shine on the 16 lanterns of the monumental porch and light up the main entrance to the basilica.”
The thought that has gone into creating this church does not go unnoticed. Everything inside and out serves a purpose, maybe that is the reason why it has taken so long to complete.
After visiting the church we went back to the Gothic Quarters and searched (for an hour) for a pizza shop my dad noticed on the we arrived to Barcelona. We ended up eating, walking around La Rambla and calling it a night so we could catch our flight in the morning back to the U.S.
I am so happy that Matt and I decided to extend our trip an additional day, I would have been very disappointed if I had never gone inside the church. Even though a year has passed since our trip, I feel as if it was just yesterday we boarded our flight from JFK to venture across the ocean. The trip was perfect and I can’t wait until the next time I step foot in Europe.