|What luck - an international pillow fight the day I arrived!|
I feel so lucky to have had the privilege of spending a week in Barcelona. The city offers so much - culture, fantastic food, the best sangria I ever tasted, architecture, lovely people, and astounding beauty everywhere!
|Unique architecture along the beach|
|A colorful mermaid|
Barcelona is so expansive that my companion and I decided to spend a few days in one area near Park Güell, and another few days near Poble Sec with a weekend flight to Lisbon in between.
|Love the pop of street art!|
Our hosts in the Park Güell area are two of the most wonderful people I have met in my life. You will be well taken care of in their stunning flat and hope they adopt you so that you don't have to leave. I gained new friends for life. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/74649
|View from the host's terrace|
Our second hosts near Poble Sec were lovely as well, providing everything you need in a terrific area. The host's mother even taught me how to use the washing machine and hang my clothes out the window:) https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/51952
|This is how they do it|
|Found someone who likes to fist bump|
There are so many barrios in Barcelona that I think it's best to identify the ones that I visited, and then list the specific places that I recommend in each one. Unfortunately, I lost track of the many venues that I dined or drank at, so not much sharing in that department.
Gothic Quarter - this is a really cool area full of unique architecture and history. I suggest wandering around here to discover shops, bars, restaurants, street musicians and spur of the moment live events. The barrio has a medieval feel and look to it like no other. A must-see bar is Bollocks! The drinks are awesome and here is a taste of what it's like.
La Rambla - This area is home to a well-known pedestrian street that goes all the way to the harbor. Be prepared for lots and lots of people, which is why I didn't spend a lot of time here. My favorite place was La Boqueria. All five senses will be on high alert while walking through this phenomenal market. I also liked getting up close and personal with the Columbus Monument.
|Get ready to feed your face!|
La Ribera - This is a beautiful area with lots of museums. I highly recommend Ciutadella Park and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. Don't miss an area off to one side of the church called Fossar de les Moreres, which is a small square rich with history.
The Waterfront - I think it's probably a given that everyone should visit the waterfront in Barcelona! So much is offered here including a port for ships, beaches, restaurants, shops, bars, museums and boat rides. You can walk a promenade to the Maremagnum, which is a huge complex filled with shops and restaurants on the water.
Then head back for a stroll along the beach and a dip in the sea. I was in awe of the unique architecture. I made a welcome discovery, which was an ice bar right on the beach, aptly named Icebarcelona. You are given a thermal parka and gloves upon entering, and it was very "cool" indeed:)
|Everything is made of ice!|
Montjuïc Park - There's a lot going on in this area and where most of my activities took place. I think the best place to start is at the bottom and work your way up the mountain! Begin at Plaza d'Espanya, taking in the two Venetian Towers and Palau Nacional. Palau Nacional is home to Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, offering a fantastic collection of Romanesque and Gothic art.
If you want a gorgeous place to relax, check out the Botanical Gardens. My companion and I hiked all the way to the top to the magnificent fortress known as Montjuïc Castle, and then took great pleasure in riding the cable car back down.
|The Towers and Palau Nacional - what a site!|
|Looking out from inside Palau Nacional|
|Reward at the end of the day|
|Remembered how fearful I am of heights|
|No turning back now|
One thing you must do while in this area is have drinks at the pool at the B Hotel. I spied this beauty while taking in views from the Arenas de Barcelona mall nearby (this is also a great place to visit). I was pleasantly surprised how inexpensive the drinks were. http://www.b-hotel.com/hotel/default-en.html
|This is the life|
|Great views from the mall's rooftop|
The Olympic Stadium is also near this area if you wish to make a pit stop. There is nothing to really do here other than walk around and get some nice photos.
One of the things I was most excited about seeing was works by the master of modernism himself, Gaudi. I was thrilled that my first host was within walking distance of Park Güell, my first stop on the Gaudi train. As the photos portray, this is a fascinating and beautiful place.
The only other creation I had time for was the Basilica of the Holy Family. Words cannot even begin to describe what this experience was like. I highly recommend both if you visit Barcelona.
|The entrance to Park Güell|
|Basilica of the Holy Family|
The couchsurfing group in Barcelona is fantastic! I was very lucky to get invited to an exclusive rooftop terrace party being held by a local CS'er with a live performance by his band, as well as a traveling musician from Brooklyn, Robin Aigner. It was a magical evening with good food, drinks, meeting people from all over the world, and of course great music. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip!
|The lovely and talented Robin Aigner|
|CS host and his band|
I do believe I have given you more than enough reasons to want to jump on a plane to Barcelona. I know that I will make a return trip there one day and still dream about it.