My Husband and I went to Barcelona over President’s Day weekend. My step daughter is studying there for the semester (charmed life?!) and she really wanted us to visit.
We’d both never been to Spain before and had heard from many friends what a great destination Barcelona is. We enjoyed a great trip with our girl – who played local tour guide to us for this quick trip. Highlights of our 48 hours on the ground in the Catalan capital below…
Lodging: We stayed at the W Barcelona, locally known as Hotel Vela (“Sail Hotel”) due to it’s distinctive shape. Located at the Westernmost tip of the waterfront, the W boasts all the edgy furnishings of the well known chain as well as a killer location on the beach. The views!
Lunch/brunch: Hallie arranged for a table at CDLC (“Carpe Diem Lounge Club”) on the waterfront beach, a 15-minute walk down the promenade from the W. Featuring tapas and great sushi, a crisp bottle of white wine paired well with the food and set the mood for our entry to Barcelona. WELL past our bedtime, but it’s known to be a hot nightspot heaving with Barcelona beauties.
From CDLC, we hopped in a cab and exited at “Las Ramblas,” the famous shopping and landmark boulevard in the heart of Barcelona. With the weather quite comfortable (about 60 degrees), the area was busy with tourists and locals out for the day. We enjoyed a pass through the not-to-be-missed “La Boqueria” public market – it’s a shame we already had lunch! Semi-open air, the market’s labyrinth of aisles boasts an absurd abundance of sweets, juices, and other delicacies as well as many small eateries serving local tapas.
From here, we made our way to the legendary Sagrada Familia basilica, the never-quite-finished Gaudi masterpiece. If the pope commissioned Tim Burton and Roald Dahl to produce a grand, whimsical riff on St. Peter’s, this would be it. A must see, visually stunning and wholly original.
After a much needed siesta (when in Spain….) back at the W, we dined (at 10:30PM!) at Mont Bar. Highlights were the egg dish as well as the tuna tar tar. The meal was satisfying, but as you’ll read below, the lunch/brunch experiences are hard to top.
After breakfast at the W, we ventured up to the famous promontory that is Park Güell. Overlooking the city to the north, the Park sports must-see vistas, walking paths, and gardens. Gaudi masterpieces from carved out caves, stairways, and the house in which he lived abound over this wide expanse. Don’t miss it, and as with the Sagrada Familia, book online tickets in advance to ensure you aren’t fighting long lines.
From here, we taxied to the Gothic quarter, meandering its streets and squares included a stop in front of the impressive Barcelona Cathedral. We found a cool candy store called “Happy Pills”- a spin on the self-serve candy store where you fill small medicine bottoms with your favorite confection and pick your own label. For our boys we selected “in case of ninja attack” and “For Instant Happiness” – I can see this store sweeping into NYC.
I had a lunch/tapas recommendation from a good friend and we were determined to try it. Fully earning our appetite after a mile+ walk, we arrived at Cerveceria Catalana in the Eixample neighborhood. You must GO HERE!
We feasted alongside a lively crowd of locals and tourists- always a good sign when the locals are there in numbers, especially on a Sunday. Plate after plate of outstanding tapas offerings came in fast succession. Some faves: garlic prawns; grilled octopus; Jambon plate; a ridiculously decadent fries and fried eggs mashup (OMG). Accompanied by a carafe of sangria, this was THE meal of our trip!
The day was capped by a journey to the world famous Camp Nou to take in FC Barcelona’s match against Leganes. It was an intimate night out- just the 3 of us and 90,000 fanatical locals cheering on their beloved futbol team. Great experience, and the home team won behind 2 scores by the legendary Messi. Bravo.
Monday morning was a quick breakfast and dash to the airport for our journey home. We had a great visit with our girl and miss her already.
Some trip tips:
· Try to learn a little Spanish ahead of time. Not all the taxi drivers speak English, and the Catalans are a proud local bunch. Google translate can easily help with a few key phrases.
· Be careful of pickpockets. We had no issues but had been warned to be mindful. Ladies, wear a cross-body bag (channel your Carrie Mathison) and leave your flashy jewelry at home or in the hotel safe.
· Amex is not always accepted. Have Visa or MC in your wallet. Taxi drivers greatly prefer cash.
· Delta has a direct flight! Cash in those accumulating miles (we did) and check out this great Spanish city.