Oh my. Barcelona.
I might have a new favorite city.
Ben and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were welcomed with sunshine. I instantly fell in love. We again nailed the Airbnb apartment location and stayed in a studio apartment in El Born. The neighborhood was perfection. Winding streets, trendy shops, and so many tapas bars. After throwing our bags and going on a quick run we got ready to head to a “locals” tapas bar recommended by our host. Quite the recommendation! Perfect little crowded bar where we ordered calamari, patatas bravas, croquettes, and pimientos de padrón (my favorite!).
We spent the rest of the evening wandering around getting our bearings and seeing all the bars and streets liven up as the night went on before heading back to the apartment. The next morning we started off with a run, one of my favorite parts of each day. We ran through Ciutadella Park and around the streets (obviously stopping at any playground) before making our way back towards the beach and along the boardwalk. There we found apparently the place to be to work out in Barcelona. We ended up stopping here each day. Also, the guys and girls working out there were insane with their crazy tricks and moves. I can say working out seemed that much more enjoyable when you got to have the view of the ocean in front of you.
After heading back for lunch we showered up and made our way through the streets to La Rambla.
Palm trees. Yes please.
I could swoon over the streets for hours. The narrowness, the sun shining, the colorful buildings, the little balconies flooded with plants and flowers. It’s all too much really.
Tourist central. But hey, their street performers were loads better than what Trafalgar Square has to offer.
Oh man, and then we made our way to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The market of all markets offering berries and fresh fruit juice and all things colorful and delicious. We snagged a few raspberries and it was a great life choice. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona do grab all the berries and fruits.
After walking all along down La Rambla we headed onward and stumbled upon some of Antoni Gaudí’s beautiful architecture. He had to be one creative guy I tell ya. The buildings are so bizarre and radically different than any I had seen before.
With no real agenda in mind other than head in the general direction of La Sagrada Familia, we continued onward popping in shops or down streets along the way. We stumbled upon a lovely bakery and stopped to pick up some more lunch bread and little doughnuts things that were quite like heaven. Nom nom. I can appreciate both doughnuts and bread.
We finally made it to La Sagrada Familia! During Ben and I’s European travels I have seen quite a length list of churches and cathedrals, but this one was so different. I mean they are stilllll building it! Also there is the strangest lack and also sense of strong consistency. Really hard to describe. Every angle is strange and different and some beautiful. Wild I tell ya. Apparently, it won’t be completed until 2026.
After more walking and looking and talking we headed towards an area of town our host recommended saying, “This is where my friends and I hang out.” It sounded like the perfect place to get a sense of real Barcelona to Ben and I, so we made our way over. Again, the narrow streets and colors were more than swoon worthy. We arrived in perfect time for a little sangria before dinner and it was perfect. The little plazas in Spain are on point. Everyone sitting outside, enjoying a drink, and hanging out each night really sets the scene. Then we started our little food trek (Ben and I seem to go on these quite often. What can we say, sometimes finding the perfect restaurant can take a lot of time and a whole lot of menu reading.) But the perfect restaurant we found indeed! Another little tapas bar where we ordered more peppers, Spanish tortillas, a salad, and a chorizo/mushroom/potato thing. The concept of tapas is a well thought out concept, and one I stand firmly behind.
Friday morning again began with a run. I’m not really a runner, but I’m confident living in Barcelona could make me one. Whenever Ben and I travel, one of our favorite ways to really see a city is to run. So, we always map our long runs with stops along the way. You know your average vintage market, playground, food market, cool building types of stops. This particular morning we made our way over to Mercat Del Encants, the largest flea-esque type market I have ever been to. I mean anything you could ever imagine all under one very large overhang. After perusing around a bit we continued onward and made our way back to our little beloved beach workout spot. I wish I had more pictures to show you of our mornings, but hey, running with a large camera isn’t ideal. Also, three cheers for Barcelona cooperating and giving the gift of my absolute favorite weather. The ever so perfect, warm but not blazing hot. After our very long run and a afternoon lunch we headed back out to meander through the Gothic Quarter and make our way towards another market. This time we wanted to hit up the one not so touristy and a bit more local.
Sant Antoni Market ended up being the perfect spot for us to gather all the ingredients to make a little dinner in the flat: fresh shrimp, courgettes, peppers (approximately the size of my face), potatoes, strawberries, kiwi, and a few oranges the sweet lady threw in our bag out of the kindness of her heart. We created our own shrimp courgette noodle pasta with patatas bravas on the side. This whole concept is another one of Ben and I’s favorite way to travel. Of course we love eating out at restaurants, but in almost every city we try to go to the local markets, pick up the local foods, and attempt to make a somewhat local dish.
Saturday, just like the others, started out with a lovely run. In the afternoon we (mostly I) wanted to head back out to the Gothic Quarter to check out some of the shops and boutiques before making our way back to the beach because hey, it was actually beach weather! The Gothic Quarter is so beautiful and you could easily spend hours wandering around the little side streets and corners.
Off to la playa! But first, ice cream. (Obviously.) Behold, banana split ice cream. I mean wow. Ben and I were wayyy to ambitious thinking we could actually share this little guy. Quiero mas por favor.
The beach. The sun. All was well. We found a nice little spot and simply laid there for hours and took a little snooze.
That evening we headed out to dinner and then walked quite out of our way to find the churro man. GOD LOVE THE CHURRO MAN. Churros are an excellent way, in my opinion, to end an evening.
Barcelona went straight up to top three on my list in terms of favorite cities. We had the perfect few days of running, relaxing, beaching, and eating and I am confident in saying I am not done with Barcelona yet. The food, the beach, the streets are so lovely and were the perfect start to spring. You’re a beaut Barcelona. Keep up the great work.