Spain Trip - Part 1: Barcelona


Finally, almost a month later, I am starting my series of posts about our trip to Spain. We went the last two weeks of August.

To start off, I want to mention a few things overall that I would have done differently or that I thought worked out very well.

Timing

We went in high summer due to being limited by summer break from high school for my sister. But if at all possible, I would suggest to go in Spring or Fall for many reasons:
  1. The prices for lodging etc. will be lower in off season.
  2. It won't be as crowded. Many Europeans including the Spanish themselves do vacation in summer.
  3. Most importantly: it will not be so HOT. It was very hot and we had to do some sort of siesta due to that, which will take off a few hours out of you day. Luckily the Spanish are used to that and many things are open late, but it will be dark.

Transportation

Unless you plan on camping or road tripping, getting a rental is not very useful and so expensive. We had one and most of the time we had to park it in a garage for a steep fee.
The public transport is great and many downtown/historical parts of the city are just not reachable via car.

Vacation Rentals

For this trip we decided to go with vacation rentals instead of hotels because we were meeting my family and travelling with them. And I am very happy we did. It is about the same price if not cheaper than hotels and allows you to have some private area to sit with the family, have breakfasts and dinners together. We also enjoy cooking and didn't want to have to go out to dinner every night.
another perk was, that we were able to stay in some more historic areas of some cities that may not have a hotel or may have been expensive and quickly booked.
So I can definitely recommend this if you travel with family, other than if you do camping.

But now let's get to the things we were able to see in Barcelona.

Gaudi Architecture

The first day we spend visiting multiple spots within the city with architecture by Antoni Gaudí, a famous Spanish architect of the Catalan Modernism. Many of his buildings are in a Modernisme or Art Nouveau style and greatly influenced by flowing, organic themes of nature - aka they have a lizard or ginger bread house feel to them. Ceramic tile mosaics were a huge part of the designs.

Sagrada Família


First we visited this large Roman Catholic church in a mixed style of Gothic and Art Nouveau. This project is still under construction and was only a quarter of the way at the time Gaudi died in 1926. No work was done until the 50s and is said to have had its half way point in 2010. Quite a project!

Casa Batlló


After a stroll through the city we stopped at Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi's masterpieces. The local name is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) because it looks like some sort of animal with bones. The roof definitely makes me think of a dragon. You can also go inside for a tour for a fee.

Casa Milà


Just down the road is another of Gaudi's building, the Casa Milà. It is so impressive because the stone front and columns are self-supporting and it has no load-bearing walls on the inside. It can be visited from the inside and also has an interesting spiral shaped roof terrace. In 1984 it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Park Güell





After a little Siesta we visited the biggest collection of Gaudi architecture, the Park Güell. It is located on the Carmel hill and quite a climb to get up there in the heat. But it is absolutely worth your while. So many buildings in Gaudi's typical style with tile mosaics or very nature like designs from his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). It is all located in a nature park and just grand and impressive. We also experienced some nice Spanish street music in the park.

Gothic Quarter



The next day we were able to visit the beautiful narrow alleys and gorgeous architecture of the Gothic quarter. This was the old down town of Barcelona and has many Medieval and even Roman buildings  from it's time as a Roman settlement. There are many churches as well as the old Jewish quarter located in the area.

Harbor


Just a hop away is the port of Barcelona.  It is Spain's third and Europe's ninth largest container port. This is not the only port in Barcelona, as there are also two additional yacht harbors and marinas.
We took a little boat tour of the port during which we could refresh and relax from all the walking.

Castle Montjuïc


Next stop was  Montjuïc hill that can be reached via scenic cable car ride. There are many attractions on this hill like the Olympic village, but as it was getting late we were only able to quickly visit the castle Montjuïc, an old military fortress from the 17th century.

There were quite a few other things we wanted to see if we had more time. But it was time to move on down the east coast to Granada in Andalusia.
In the next post, I talk about that part of the trip:
Part 2: Spanish East Coast.
Part 3: Day Trips

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