With only 3 nights in Barcelona and 1 of them set aside for a wedding, we only really had 24 hours to enjoy the city. This wasn't our first trip so we had some bearings to guide us, but it had been a few years so we were keen to reacquaint ourselves.
There's a few things you just have to do if you come to Barcelona. One of them is visit the Sagrada Familia and if I didn't convince you in my last post, then let me try again. It's absolutely spectacular - like nothing else you'll see anywhere else in the world - and if all you for the remainder of your trip is sit in a tapas bar, drink wine and eat chorizo and don't seeing anything else, that's (kind of) ok. As long as you see the Sagrada Familia.
I think I've made my point.
Another thing I can be pretty sure about is that after a few hours touring the Cathedral you, like us, will have worked up an appetite and there's no better place to satisfy it than La Boqueria market.
A maze of colourful stalls selling a rainbow of fruits, meats, fish, nuts, herbs, eggs and almost any food stuff you can't think of, the markets are buzzing from dawn till dusk. You'll find them about half way down Las Ramblas which means you can tick that box off on the way (it's worth avoiding it otherwise - rammed with tourists, overpriced shops and restaurants and rife with pick-pockets).
Have a look around and then pull up a pew at one of the little bars - we managed to find seats at Bar Pinotxo which is arguably one of the most famous in the market thanks to Juan, the owner, who serves everyone with a smile (he loves a photo as well!) and whips up plates of deliciousness (unless you can converse easily in Spanish, you'll get what your given) and cold beer as fast as you can drink it.
His coffee's and croissants looked pretty impressive as well. I could have stayed all day but there were sights to see and places to be!
We meandered our way across Las Ramblas and into the Gothic Quarter via the city's main Cathedral. A more "traditional" take on the church concept than Sagrada Familia but impressive nonetheless and on weekends you can catch Catalan dancers out in the square performing the Sadana, an old school folk dance.
We strolled down the narrow pathway down the side of the Cathedral before spilling out onto Placa Sant Jaume - the city's political centre and home to the City Hall and the Palau de la Generalitat - the most important buildings in the lives of Barcelona and Catalonia standing stubbornly across the square from each other.
After a good half an hour in the blazing mid-day heat, we were starting to lose steam (literally) and found solace in Placa Reial. An oasis in the city centre, so close to the chaos of Las Ramblas but so serene, the square is the perfect place to grab a drink or a bite to eat and watch the world go by.
We lucked out on a curbside table in the shade at Ocana - which is actually 4 venues in one and is seriously cool inside - what has to be one of the oldest buildings in Barcelona has been converted in a funky restaurant and bar. The food looked pretty awesome and I can imagine the club goes off at night as well - (Apoteke is the name of the bar if you're interested).
Keen to take in some more of Gaudi's work, we didn't stay seated for long and powered north up Paseig de Gracia to Casa Batlló and Casa Milà - you can book tickets and head inside both but given our time constraints we were happy to admire them from the outside and wander around the Gracia neighbourhood which has a very cool, almost boho vibe to it. If you have time, an awesome thing to do is cycle from here to Park Güell, stopping at cafe's and bars along the way. We retreated by to the Gothic Quarter instead, settling down for some goblets of G&T and tapas at Bormuth - an awesome, simple and vibrant bar, which spills out onto the street, and makes for the perfect place to grab a pre-dinner snack and aperetif.
From there explored the marina on our way to supper, marvelling at the super yachts in Port Vell as we headed towards the beach, just in time for sunset. Barcelona's beaches can be immensely crowded on hot, sunny day's, but as the sun starts to dip towards the horizon and tanning becomes less of an option, they get much quieter and more relaxed.
And so the sun set on our short time in Barcelona - a fabulous few days with old friends in a city that felt like one.