{stories and snapshots from my new york city life.}


Best of Barcelona...

Back in the beginning of summer I complained to Vin that I've never been to Europe. "Wah, wah, wah...any time I get days off from work I go to Texas to visit my parents" (who I adore, BTW). "I need to see the world!" He said something akin to "Quit your cryin' whinypants" and planted the idea to go to Barcelona by year's end. I told my aunt about it, who told my dad about it, and badda-boom! Problem solved. I'd get to visit family and see a new part of the world in one fell Spanish swoop.

Members of our motley crew: Aunt Renee and Uncle David, me and Vin (not pictured) and Dad and wife Angie

I was super glad to have my Dad along because he provides a great amount of comic value. His Texas accent combined with his (sorry, Dad) rudimentary grasp of the Spanish language resulted in a new dialect my boyfriend coined "Doug-lish". My father had a habit of either adding an "o" or an "a" to an English word to make it sound Spanish or would just make up an entirely new word altogether, earnestly believing it was correct. In the end, his efforts were pretty fruitless (and even more funny) as they actually speak a language called Catalan in Barcelona.

We rented an apartment in Plaza Catalunya, steps away from the famous tourist alley "The Rambla" which was basically the Barcelonan equivalent of Times Square without the migraine-inducing lights.

It was a vibrant collection of human statues, flower stalls, tourists, and apparently, pick-pockets. I kept waiting for someone to gasp and yell "Oh no! Where's my fanny pack?!" but it never happened. Guidebooks always blow that stuff out of of proportion.

The main reason to visit The Rambla, other than to hear the incessant whistle coming from the street peddlers trying to pawn off these unbelievably annoying noisemakers is The Boqueria. Into food? This place will knock your little athletic socks off.

Not far away from La Rambla was my favorite neighborhood--Bari Gotic. Oh, how I fell in love with this neighborhood! Tight, narrow streets filled with tiny shops, charming cafes and gelato up to my earlobes. Beautiful, gothic buildings and churches made with big stones and enormous doors crafted from heavy wood. If I were to spend another week in Barcelona, I would spend the entire time in this neighborhood.

All the doors have graffiti all over them, which is a fun contrast to the stately shape and size. 

But obviously a big reason to visit Barcelona is to view Antoni Gaudi's unbelievable architectural achievements. We missed a few, but caught the big boys like...

Parc Guell

And the most spectacular place I've ever seen...
La Sagrada Familia
My friend Caroline told me skipping this famous church would be like going to India and forgetting to visit the Taj Mahal. I think she was right. 

It's great to be all touristy and hit the sights that make a place famous to outsiders, but what I really love to do when visiting places is try to live more like a local. I'm so glad we chose to stay in an apartment for a week rather than a hotel, because it really made us feel like we were part of Barcelona, even if it was only for a week.
It's a good thing we didn't stay at Hotel Colon. My dad and I are positively Griswoldian.

That said, my absolute favorite part of the trip were the days that went unplanned. The times when we just wandered and observed and delighted in the things that make this city so vibrant, beautiful and special. I found the best time to do this was at night, as that's when Barcelona really comes alive.

I heard a handsome man play Spanish guitar in a dark alley in Barcelona. It was, hands down, my favorite moment of the trip. We bought the CD afterward and listened to it in the car. Very nice, but it will never sound the same in a Honda driving to Long Island as it did in that alley when we just happened to walk on by.

As they say in Doug-lish, "C'est la vio". 

**Stay tuned to my Barcelona tales...next up--COMIDA.


  1. I love Barcelona! I live in the UK and tend to go to Spain when we have a holiday so I've been lucky enough to go there a few times. If you ever go back to Spain be sure to go to Seville though it's a much smaller city and has an amazing atmosphere and great food. There are also some beautiful villages that surround Seville - in fact I'm recently new to blogging and you've inspired me to put a few pictures up from our Andalucia trip :)I also totally agree with staying in an apartment we did the same thing and it completely changes the way you view the city

  2. Wow, you look like you had a fantastic time and I always get so jealous of people loving Barcelona. When I was there, the amount of blatant racism towards me...whoa. It completely changed my perspective of it since I had never been treated like that before. I'm happy that I got to see all of the gorgeous sights and eat some good tapas though, but wish I had the same experience that all of my other friends rave about. I actually plan on going back next April, hopefully, just to see if I could get a different experience. I don't know why it bothers me so much, lol, but I just feel like I need to do it!

  3. Pretty sure SPain is my favorite country for traveling. Isn't Barcelona beautiful? It can get massively touristy, but if you can block that out and just focus on the city itself, it feels like you've gone back in time...

  4. I have visited quite a few cities in Europe but not Barcelona. Your post has made me realise I must visit it!

  5. that church looks like it is made of dribble sand. those were my favorite sand castles when i was little. your family looks like so much fun!


  6. Oh Jihane--I am so sorry you had that experience there! I can't imagine how much that would tarnish your feel for a place. Hopefully you will encounter fewer ignorant and racist individuals on your next visit. What a shame.

  7. Oh. I am so jealous! Your photos are amazing! The spanish guitar must have sounded so beautiful with the alley acoustics! Renting an apartment is my favorite way to vacation too since you get to grocery shop and cook like the locals. I love browsing grocers in Europe for similarities and differences.

  8. Isn't it funny how the unplanned experiences are always better? Such stunning photos... I've always wanted to go to Barcelona. I mentioned it to my parents this summer... they did think it was a great idea. They just went without me! LOL (truth!)

  9. So you did go to the markets! Yeah the whole 'La Rambla be careful tourists' thing is so ott, besides it doesn't matter where you go, you just have to keep your wits with you.

    You look stunning in that blush coloured frock! I share pretty much the same gorgeous photos/memories of Barcelona as you, except that one shot from afar of La Sagrada Familia.


  10. So, so amazing. I've been trying to convince Joe that Spain needs to be next on our list. Totally forwarding him your Barcelona posts. Keep 'em coming!

  11. We went to Barcelona in March and stayed in the Barri Gotic! It was amazing! I enjoyed seeing many of the same places in your post! I cannot wait to go back someday! You definitely picked the best European city to visit!

  12. Gorgeous.

  13. You are stunning (but I've said that before!) Barcelona looks lovely, and it makes me wish I could return to Spain this fall! Ryan and I visited for our honeymoon. Thank you for sharing, sweet girl!