Barcelona

View from Park Güell. We did not buy tickets early enough to enter the famous area, but I’m told that if you go early in the morning then it’s free to enter, something to keep in mind the next time I’m in Spain.

After Mallorca, I flew into Barcelona to reunite with a friend from high school. The first night, we asked the hostel desk where food would still be served around 10 pm. He reminded us that we were in BAR-celona and many places would still be open. However, he warned us not to have our phones out as many people will take your phone right from you and not to chase after someone as everyone carries large blades now, gesturing a foot long length. Needless to say, we decided to stay close to the hostel for the first night.

We wandered over to a pizza place he claimed had the best pizza in the area (which we agreed was very good), stopped by an Irish pub for a cider, then continued to catch up in the lobby of our hostel until we were shushed for quiet hours. I was surprised that many of the restaurants closed earlier than I thought they would.

One of the streets we passed on our walking tour.
According to Leon, this courtyard was a burial ground for thousands and is now used by the local school for recess

We signed up for a free walking tour that was advertised by our hostel. Our guide was Leon, who moved to Barcelona 20 years ago after having spent one Valentine’s Day weekend there. He was energetic and obviously passionate about the history as he tried to cram about two thousand years worth of history into our brains within 2.5 hours.

He was also had a dark sense of humor as he’d lead us into a courtyard and say “this is a child’s playground now, but you’re also standing on about 11,000 burials.” His humor is what convinced us to join the “forbidden tour” which took us through Barcelona’s history of torture, prostitution, exorcisms, and serial killers and came with a soundtrack to “introduce levity.” He played Zero to Hero from “Walt Disney’s documentary,” as we walked down Carrer d’Hercules and learned about some of the founding myths of Barcelona. We learned that people could be pardoned of their crimes if they were able to run from the square to the ocean wearing a coat that’s set on fire, like Hercules’ poisoned coat.. no one was able to do it.

Leon also explained that the way to eat in Barcelona is to use Menú Del Día. These menus often offer specialties of the restaurant and give you a three course meal with a drink for typically under €15. Throughout our short time in Barcelona, we looked for prices around €10 as he said they have the best ones. It wasn’t easy to find €10 meals, but €12 ones were abundant and usually tasted really good.

Tapas! We were told not to go to a tapas place if you’re very hungry as it can get really expensive. We found that three different tapas and some bread was plenty to feed the two of us.

As we were in Barcelona, we had to go out of Tapas, so for dinner our second night we went to a place recommended by our hostel. The food was amazing: chorizo, fried potatoes with spicey sauce and garlic aioli, and meat balls.

Caught up in talking and laughing, we finished off a bottle of rosé, which the bartender looked very impressed with. Ordering a glass of sangria and chatted with the Canadians next to us at the bar who ordered too much food and offered us peppers and cheese. When we asked for the check, the bartender returned with more sangria. He only charged us for the wine bottle and first glass of sangria so our dinner was still incredibly cheap for all the food and drink we consumed. After that, we walked off some of the alcohol and dinner, stopping on the front steps of the Barcelona Cathedral.

Barcelona Cathedral. This gothic-looking front is actually the newest part and not part if the original structure.

The next day, we went out to explore Gaudí architecture at Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Casa Mílahad. We had lunch at the irish pub we had ciders at the first night for some air conditioning, but as soon as we ordered our food, the entire street lost power and didn’t return until we asked for the check (figures).

La Sagrada Familia, we did not go in as tickets are very expensive, but we’re told that it’s better to just see the outside.
Casa Batlló, my favorite of the Guadí buildings we saw.
Indoor archaeological site under the old El Born market. If you schedule a tour they will actually take you on to the dig site. As we had limited time we didn’t get to see them actually working.

To end our trip, we took a trip to Barceloneta Beach. It was rather crowded and dirty, I much preferred the beach in Mallorca, but it was still relaxing to chat and lay in the sand.

After a few days in Barcelona I can see why Leon picked up and moved there. I loved all the food and vibes of the city and look forward to visiting again.

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