IS THIS REAL, ACTUAL LIFE???
I asked myself this on the night of May 4th, as we were checking our bags for the 1,000th time to make sure we didn’t forget anything.
And again the next day as we sat in our home airport, drinking our pre-flight ritual North Carolina craft beers, waiting to go to Boston.
And AGAIN when we finally made it to Boston, through the one horrific northeastern rain storm and turbulence coupled with a landing that made you question your life choices up until that exact moment in time.
And AGAIN when waiting in Boston Logan to board our flight to Europe.
Aaaaand basically every single moment that followed in the next two weeks as we FINALLY got to go on our European adventure we had been planning for the last year. Saving, researching, reserving, fine tuning, decision making…it ALL led up to this trip and to be quite honest in today’s vernacular, I was HYPE AF.
But all of those little moments were just building momentum to the moment that we finally stepped off our last flight for a week and onto the ground in Barcelona, Spain!
Barcelona is teeming with Spanish charm, and the food scene is so legit it will nearly bring a tear to your eye. I’m not one for dramatics (LOL ok maybe I am), but this place is just perfect. I am also a self proclaimed sucker for just about any large city, but between the beautiful streets lined with greenery and the architectural art that is Barcelona, I am a GRADE A sucker for Barcelona!
What We Did:
The only thing that stunk about Barca was that we only had about a day and a half to play there. So we reallyyyy wanted to make the most of our time, and tried to hit a few of Barcelona’s best known landmarks and OBVIOUSLY we needed to eat well.
So, we arrived around 11 AM and dropped our bags off (I’ll get to our accomodations!), and made the conscious decision to push through the jet lag (PIECE OF CAKE for this girl as working the night shift is like the freakin’ jet lag olympics!) and EXPLORE! Just aimlessly wandering around is an experience enough in itself because like I said, this city is just aesthetically pleasing.
We headed to Park Güell, a public park in Barcelona boasting a few of the most iconic landscapes in the city. This park was one of quite a few architectural designs of Antoni Gaudí you can find in Barca, and it’s quite unique and breath taking. It’s got such a beautiful panoramic view of the city, too! 😉
Moving right with the theme of Gaudi, we also took time to go to the Sagrada Família while we were in Barcelona. I don’t even know how to describe this catholic church, also designed by Gaudi, that has been under construction SINCE 1882. AND IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Like…wat.
Quickly after getting to the Sagrada Familia, you realize just WHY it’s not completed. This building is just so intricate. The outside is adorned with the most intricate sculpture of various scenes, people, and important themes from the life of Jesus Christ. The interior of the church is modeled after a forest with leaves and insects carved into the front doors, large columns fancied to be a forest canopy, and BEAUTIFUL stained glass windows allowing light to play on the walls.
I truly don’t know how to describe the Sagrada without doing it injustice. It’s one of those places you must see! And I am SO glad we did.
Exploring Barcelona and finding more Gaudi architecture!
Where We Stayed:
Sooooo travel confession: we had never actually used AirBNB before this trip. I have often been fascinated by it, curious about it, and very interested in it…but we had always gone the hotel route! However, as we were already short on time in Spain, we wanted a truly authentic and organic experience. And since we absolutely don’t do anything halfway, why NOT let our first AirBNB experience be in a foreign country?!?!
So after searching and searching, we found our DREAMBOAT of a Spanish apartment. And it was SWEET. A beautiful, open floor plan with exposed brick wall EVERYWHERE and french doors opening out to a concrete balcony. All of this for even less than we would have paid for a hotel…DONE AND DONE!
Our place was the perfect kick off to our trip and gave us such an organic Barcelona experience! We almost forgot we were tourists staying in our little apartment!
What We Ate:
We ate lots and LOTS of tapas. And drank alllll the Spanish wine. That is all.
So, looking to head to Spain & trying to find tips/tricks/words of wisdom?
First of all, as someone whose spanish does not extend far past the phrases “my name is Sarah and I’ll be your nurse tonight” and “are you in pain?” I’ve managed to pick up in my nursing career, the language barrier isn’t really a huge issue.
For some reason this was the country not so well traveled (but well meaning) family members had issues with us visiting because of the spanish. *eye roll* Look, people. We as human beings communicate about 1,000 different ways besides words. You certainly don’t have to be fluent to come here! As Barcelona is a large European city, you’ll find an English speaker just about everywhere. And if all else fails, gestures! Google translate! We’re living in the FUTURE, people! Take advantage 🙂 We took the time before we left to polish up on the few phrases we did know and added a few more to our repertoire, but in my experience the Spanish are willing to work with your language barrier. In restaurants where our waiter was obviously spanish speaking only and we were obviously struggling with making decent spanish when the conversation got more complex, they always seemed to find us an English speaking waiter. As in any country, being polite and respecting the culture is key 😉
Another thing we’ve been asked about a lot is pickpocketing. This is an issue many European cities suffer from, but Barcelona is more largely known as a city plagued with pick pockets. Every experience is different, and I can’t tell you that you can go to Spain and not have a problem. However, I will say we had zero issues.
We carried a full backpack and utilized google maps on our iPhones to get around and never felt nervous for our stuff. We have lived in cities for about eight years now, and consider ourselves to have pretty good self awareness and street smarts. Those are two pretty good principles to have to avoid being pick pocketed, no matter where you are. Always be aware of your surroundings and your personal items. Definitely be more aware of your person in more densely populated or crowded areas. And above all else, relax. Walking around like a nervous tourist isn’t going to do you any favors!
Barcelona quickly rose in my ranks to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been! We are so in love with Spain as a whole and already planning to come back just to give this beautiful country more one on one attention
P.S. Our AirBNB in Barcelona…you’re welcome 😉 If you book tell Laia we said hola <3