The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is a maze of historical beauty. Getting lost in the winding labyrinthian streets was a highlight of our time here. It was incredibly difficult to choose a single photo to represent this diverse area of town, but this image does give a hint as to the character you’ll find.
We started early this day by walking through the gothic quarter down to the Platja de Sant Sebastià. From there we took the skylift up to Parc de Montjuïc where we spent most of our day running around like kids. We took the bus back to our hood and explore more of the Gothic quarter where we saw these kids playing a little futbol in the square.
This day was devoted to Gaudi – touring his infamous La Sagrada Familia and a couple of this other buildings (Park Guell would come later). Needless to say, La Sagrada Familia is absolutely overwhelming and words do it zero justice – so I will stop writing now.
Our first day in Barcelona was a short one lost mostly to travel, but we did manage to get out for a short walk down La Rambla. We poked our heads in a few shops and got the lay of the land. We stayed on the edge of the Gothic Quarter at a shared Airbnb with a very nice guy and a very irritable woman. For the next three nights, we’d be in this neighborhood, later moving up near Gaudi’s Park Güell.
This beautiful street was just a block from our Airbnb and on our way out to the train station. We took a train to the airport and flew a quick flight to Barcelona where we’d spend the next seven nights.
Madrid was wonderful – we met up with good friends, drank great wine, met nice people, saw amazing art, and fell in love with Spain. Madrid whet our appetite for Spain, Barcelona would only further our desire to see more.
This is the Palacio de Cristal. We spent hours wondering the trails of the park – feeding the birds – and came upon this beautiful glass building somewhere in the middle. I was enamored by the reflections and depth that this building held. I can’t recall if it was exactly this day, but we came back to the park in the evening and saw one of the best fireworks shows ever. Set to classical music, fireworks went up over the lake surrounding the Monumento Alfonso XII. Thousands of people encircled the lake and watched on as color filled the sky.
Another gloomy day, another day spent at museums – this time La Reina Sophia where they were exhibiting a Salvador Dali retrospective. Having focused in Modern Art and Surrealism in college, Meaghan and I were both deeply familiar with Dali’s works, but seeing such a vast collection in once space was overwhelming nevertheless. On our way there, we passed this enormous living wall.
We spent most of our day at The Prado, gazing at rooms full of Goya and Velazquez’s works. Perhaps the most captivating was Hieronymus Bosch’s (or El Bosco as he’s referred to in Spain) The Garden of Earthly Delights. You could literally stare at this painting for an hour and not see everything he depicted. One thing you never see in the history books is the beautiful picture of earth painted on the back of these panels.
After a quiet, long day at The Prado, we ventured back to our Airbnb where I captured this freshly rained-upon brick road. Normally, this little square would be filled with people sipping cañas o cafes.
I have dreams of returning to this bed. The light, the white plaster walls, the intricate details, the french doors with double balconies, the sounds of the city — my own Hemingwayesque romanization of Spain.
We spent this day wandering with Scott and Christina through the city streets, venturing to whatever caught our eyes. The food in Madrid was fantastic. We started for lunch at a nearby restaurant where Christina knew the owner. He slowly brought us out a three course meal that blew our minds away at every step. Afterwards, we stopped at Hemingway’s favorite watering hole for “una caña” before continuing onwards to the Temple of Debod. There we stood amongst the Egyptian ruins and beheld and incredible view of the city and the Palace. On our way home, we tried some churros con chocolate and people watched in a main square.
Beware beware the travesties of Ryanair. I booked this flight because it was insanely cheap – this is the logic of all travelers that fly with Ryanair. If you know what you’re going into, you won’t have any issues. I knew, for instance, that each traveler is allowed ONE carry-on. This means if you have a purse or camera bag you had better figure out how to stuff it into your luggage or you’ll be paying an insane fee for checking a bag at the gate (70 Euro as I recall). You also must have pre-printed your boarding pass or you’ll face another 70 or so Euros for having one printed at the gate. Would you like a coffee on the plane? That’ll be another 2 Euros + .20 Eurocents if you’d like a packet of sugar. You see where I’m going with this… read the fine print and Ryanair will be just fine.
After an exhausting day of travel, we made our way to our AirBnB that just happened to be literally 2 houses down from where our friends from Scott and Christina were staying. We stashed our stuff in our rooms and went out to dinner. Christina had been to Madrid before and knew some great spots – it certainly helped that she was fluent in Spanish as well. We went to an delicious Arabic restaurant for dinner and then to a local wine bar for drinks. We sipped on spectacular glasses of wine that were an unbelievable 2€ and caught up on old times. After not speaking to any friends for the past 3 weeks, we welcomed the company.