Could this be the city of our dreams? We arrive in Barcelona very early in the morning and find that our booked airport to hotel transfer is a no-show. OK, not the stuff good dreams are made of. It seems that when we gave the information to the transportation company, they had asked for our arrival time into Barcelona, not our flight departure time. A bit of hanging around and we eventually pay the extra for a taxi.
That’s travel for you – lots of the unexpected, some enjoyable, some not so enjoyable. So where to from here….
We think we might have to write a special blog just on the hotel we stayed in, as this was something very special! Casa Camper, you were wonderful. A boutique hotel set in the heart of Barcelona’s dim cobblestone lanes that was perfectly positioned for days of exploring this richly spirited and creative city – a designer and an art lover’s dream. And so the dream begins.
While we had been queuing in the check-in line at Sydney airport, a guy in our line (of 2 people) asked us where we were headed. We told him of our Europe travel plans and he lamented about how wonderful Barcelona was, and suggested that on our first day, we find one of the city’s Big Red double-decker bus tours and get on it. We love a good recommendation from a passionate traveler, so that’s exactly what we did. And it was wonderful! Thanks mate.
We jumped on and off the bus, fortunate enough to have clear blue skies above, so we could see the city at her best. Our stops took us to:
Park Guell. Oh wow, the architecture, and the art of Gaudi is all around you in this immersive experience. We enjoyed the gingerbread looking buildings and the mosaic creatures. It is a lovely little park on the hillside.
La Sagrada Familia Basilica – UNESCO World Heritage listed.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of churches and chapels and cathedrals in Europe and we have visited our fair share. But none were as spectacular, or as breathtakingly artistic as this one. The outside is filled with incredible detail, sculpture and carvings, but the inside, with the coloured light beaming into the vast and interesting spaces, so removed from the cathedrals we’d seen, is something that feels spiritual. You can feel the labour of love that is this building and the artistic talents that went to creating it. It has been in the making for so long that the architect has long since died – in 1926 actually – and it wont be completed until around 2026. However, it was somewhat of a privilege to tour inside this epic design during construction, and begs the desire to return once completed.
Palau Nacional, which houses the MNAC – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
We wandered around this grand old art museum that sits atop Montjuic, watching over the city. Later we returned to the grounds for Font Magica – a musical spectacular, and yes, magical, fountain display. Coloured light and ever changing fountain patterns brought the evening to life while thousands of locals and tourists alike enjoy the music and fountain magic
Hot Tip: The Font Magica is free, so get there early to secure a good position near the fountain. Displays are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 9pm (9:30pm in Summer months). Closed from early January til mid-February. Be ready for the moving, and uplifting finale when Freddie Mercury sings……..you guessed it….Barcelona! Don’t forget to stick your chest out, throw your arms wide and sing along proudly.
Along the waterfront, we found an al fresco restaurant for a paella and a beer. Very nice indeed.
Other days and nights spent in Barcelona, had us walking along Las Ramblas, where lots of interesting market stalls lined the wide boulevard. At night we were wary of pick-pockets, but were lucky enough not to run into any.
La Pedrera – A Gaudi building (pay to enter) where you can walk on the rooftop and through the interior.
One of our favourite things about Barcelona was the free-pouring of alcohol. They don’t measure shots in their cocktails, they just pour to taste, and we drank some of the best margaritas we’ve ever had there. Lots of them! Sitting up at a bar at night after dinner, the bartenders whipped up their magic concoctions and gave us many tastes of other cocktails they were making. Much singing ensued on the stumble back to our inner-city hotel.
And the other favourite thing about Barcelona, that completed it as the city of our dreams (along with art, culture, heritage, and amazing cocktails) was the FOOD! The tapas, the restaurants, the freshest light red raspberries at the market, the seafood…..so much luxurious, delectable, exquisite, luscious, heavenly food.
Our favourite restaurant was called Moo. Found in the Hotel Omm (see what they did there). Now called Roca Moo, it’s the first Michelin Starred restaurant we’ve been to. And actually we haven’t been to one since. Each morsel of our meal was exquisitely presented and a taste experience like none other. We could barely talk throughout the meal. It’s expensive here – really expensive. But here’s our hot tip to dine there without killing your travel budget!
HOT TIP! Choose to dine at Roca Moo at lunchtime on their set menu. When you get there, you may need to ask for the set menu, as you may only be shown the full menu. We had soup, main and fruit salad for desert as our set menu. It sounds pretty boring, but we can assure you it was anything but boring. We still salivate when we think of this dining experience.