It’s been a minute… but I’m back on the blogging train and I thought the perfect way to dive back in would be a reflection on my time living in Barcelona after college. I had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona again this past year and all of the memories came flooding back. Eight years later, Barcelona still stole my phone (again), my love for sangria and my heart. Excited to share more in the next few posts.
SEE LA SAGRADA FAMILIA AND BARRI GOTIC. SMELL THE SERRANO HAM, ORANGES AND PASTRIES. TASTE THE TAPAS AND SANGRIA. HEAR SALSA MUSICA. TOUCH THE TILES OF GAUDI. THINK MAGICAL, SEXY, CREATIVE.
As I looked down at the city of Barcelona from my window seat on the plane, I remember feeling overwhelmed by not only the incredible view below me, but also an understanding that the months ahead would change my life. I went to Barcelona after graduating from college a semester early, eager to get out and explore for a change of scenery beyond books and beer pong tables.
During my three months in Catalonia’s capital, every day was an amazing learning experience and an opportunity to immerse myself in the vibrant, alluring culture of Barcelona. The people are beautiful, sexy, and well-dressed. Music and magic seem to touch every corner you walk past. It’s intoxicating, and it’s not just the sangria.
I cherished my commute to Interway, my internship office; walking past and gazing up at Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, riding the metro, and finally ordering my chocolate croissant and espresso before stepping into the office.
When you live and work in a foreign country, you are constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and learning how to adapt and live at the same time. This whirlwind of change, language and culture transformed how I carried myself and widened my perspective of the world.
I was incredibly lucky to live in an eclectic, rich Spanish woman’s apartment on Calle Padilla, just around the corner from the divine La Sagrada Familia. My commute to work was amazing. I would walk down the street facing the magnificent church and stare in awe before hopping on the metro to work. In case you struggle for words how to describe it, many refer to it as the ‘melting sandcastle.’ You should absolutely go inside Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece and take a look around. Although the presence of Antoni Gaudi can be found everywhere throughout Barca, his mark is the strongest here as he spent over 40 years designing this basilica.
Gaudí was buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia. As you look around the inside and outside, pay close attention to the detail in the architecture and design! If you are claustrophobic or scared of heights, please don’t attempt walking up the never-ending narrow steps to the top of the tower. If you’re not, go forth! The views are spectacular. Update: It is now in its’ final stage of construction.
One of my favorites neighborhoods to explore in Barcelona was El Barri Gotic. Home to the Picasso Museum, street musicians, bubble makers and amazing shopping boutiques, walking around feels like going back in time. The streets are incredibly narrow, dimly light and full of secrets, hence why it is called The Gothic Quarter. Shit is a spooky labyrinthine, but so much fun to wander around and get lost. This is one of the oldest parts of Barcelona, which you will probably be able to tell because the squared Roman walls are still standing in parts of the area.
I am obsessed with tapas thanks to my time in Barca. I will eat it in any city, anywhere, on a bike, flying a kite. Everywhere. The tapas in Barcelona are lo mejor (the best) or if you read my Spanish language section ‘de puta madre.’ They are best paired with large quantities of sangria. The new girlfriends I made in Barca met up weekly to gossip, catch up on latest museum visits, dates and shoes, and it was a sacred weekly date. Tapas and sangria has a funny way of sneaking up on you. You eat a little bit, drink a little bit. Then you’re hungry again, and then you want more sangria, and then you walk out full, happy and drunk. Es perfecto.
You will probably notice there is a ridiculous amount of ham here. Serrano ham. Spain is famous for it. Other popular, delicious foods eaten often here are oranges and chocolate. As you might expect, the earlier you go in the morning for pastries, the better. To this day, I still have not tasted a better croissant con chocolate than when I was in Barcelona. For a mid-day snack (merienda) or lunch (almuerzo), order a ‘bikini’ at any cafe. It is a grilled ham and cheese. Even the sandwiches are sexy in Barcelona. Life is beautiful and delicious.
Parc Guell is an inspiring, creative place. Located in the middle of Carmel hill, it’s elevation provides views of the city below all the way to the sea. This was another of Gaudi’s masterpieces, and to this day, one of the most unique parks I’ve ever step foot in. My friends at UNESCO seemed to agree because they declared it a World Heritage Site in 1984. Fun fact: The initial purpose of Parc Guell as dreamt by Gaudi and Count Guell was to be a high end housing area nestled high on the hill for privacy, less pollution and views of the city.
There are several different entry and exit points, so you can climb the hill, take an escalator, or walk up the mosaic animal grand entrance to the park. My first time, I went the back way up a 8 part stairs, part connected escalator, which felt like more of an adventure and one of the hardest workouts. I actually saw the entrance last and it felt like the best, most colorful finale. There is so much to see here, I would set aside a couple of hours for proper exploration. Oh, and wear sneakers. Please.
If you love Gaudi (some people don’t and that’s okay), you should check out Casa Batllo, conveniently located right in the center of the city on Passeig de Gracia in the Eixample district. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (house of bones) which will make more sense the second you see it. Case Batllo is full of amazing tile work, architecture and structural details (p.s. there are almost no straight lines) throughout the entire building from the roof to the atrium, even the loft.
So many areas of the city to explore, so little time. Can’t wait to share my travel guide and tapas 101 post with you soon.
Venga. Un Besito. Ciao.