Labyrinth Park: Barcelona, Day 5

Day 5 in Barcelona: Labyrinth Park

It was our last day in Barcelona.  Mom left in the morning and we had already seen the main sites of the city, so Eric and I used our day together to visit a lesser-known park on the north side of town - Labyrinth Park.

I will say without hesitation that this is my favorite park I've ever visited.  The previous estate of the Desvalls family, it is the oldest of its kind; it was built in 1791 and is now open for the public to enjoy the stunning gardens, the old palace, and most famously, the labyrinth. It is the perfect place to escape the city and enjoy nature with its huge trees, to have a romantic date in the well-manicured, neoclassical gardens, or to take time for yourself in contemplation as you walk the labyrinth.

I considered moving to Barcelona just to live near this park and visit regularly.

Gracia, El Raval, and La Rambla: Barcelona, Day 4

Day 4 in Barcelona: Gracia, El Raval, and La Rambla

Like on our second day in Barcelona, we again took to the streets and explored a few different areas of the city.  It was a Saturday, so we bumped into a few different street markets, lively with friends meeting at cafes and families strolling together.  We first took to Gracia, an area of the city that used to be a village unto itself until it was swallowed up by larger Barcelona.  Gracia was a relaxed neighborhood with lots of families and small shops and a neighborly feel.

Next, we walked a few of the streets of El Raval, an area close to the well-known La Rambla street.  This area was a bit more hip, a bit more multicultural, and had hundreds of photogenic little nooks.

As the evening set in, we joined the lively street of La Rambla.  We had dinner and sangrias and stayed around to watch the artists and street performers show off their crafts.

La Pedrera and Casa Batlló: Barcelona, Day 3

Day 3 in Barcelona: La Pedrerea and Casa Batlló

By day 3, we were tired; long travels and lots of walking in the previous days wore us out.  We spent lots of time walking the streets of the city on day 2, so we stuck with a couple of tourist sites on day 3 and called it good enough. 

Of course, La Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudí's most famous work, but there are plenty other marks he left on Barcelona that are worth seeing, so we set off to tour La Pedrera (AKA Casa Mila) and Casa Batlló.

Admittedly, when I saw photos of Gaudí's buildings before our visit to Barcelona, I didn't love them; his style seemed a little over-the-top for my taste.  But when touring his works and learning more about the inspiration behind his designs, I gained a true appreciation for his genius and his unique contribution to Barcelona and the world of architecture.  Nearly everything he did was inspired by nature.  He is quoted as saying, "Nature is a large book that always lies open and which you must try to read."

La boqueria and the gothic quarter: Barcelona, Day 2

Day 2 in Barcelona: Gothic quarter, La Rambla, La Boqueria market, Barcelona Cathedral, and Ciutadella Park

My favorite way to get a feel for a new city is to dive into its streets.  The streets are where life happens and culture is formed.  All kinds of people are on the streets, mixing and living, buying and communing.  Our second day in Barcelona was filled with exploring the city on foot - streets, parks, and a market were all on the itinerary.  There are so many nooks and charming alleys in this city; you could walk around for weeks and still find something new and interesting.  It certainly was our most exhausting day. 

We got off the metro and made our way to the well-known La Rambla street, stopping first at Plaza Reial for a coffee and some churros.  We made our way to La Boqueria market - a bustling place with an appetizing variety of foods, meats, spices, and drinks.  We picked up lunch at the market with a plan to picnic at Ciutadella Park, but we got hungry before we could figure out our way, so we ate on the side of the street instead.

Making our way to the park, we roamed through the gothic quarter of the city, admiring the streets along the way.  We came across the Barcelona Cathedral and decided to go in - a digression definitely worth our time.  We finally made it to the park, which we circled, and then walked to the Arc de Triomph on our way to the metro.  Once we made it home, we crashed from all the walking, but I think you'll see from the pictures that it was all worth the energy.

La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell: Barcelona, Day 1

Barcelona! It's the city everyone who had visited raved about, so when Eric had a conference there for his PhD, I jumped on board.  After telling my Mom of our plans, she jumped on board too.  And so we toured the city together with Leo in tow.

We just returned last night from our time in this lovely city.  Here is how we spent our days:

Day 1: La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell
Day 2: Gothic quarter, La Rambla, La Boqueria market, Barcelona Cathedral, and Ciutadella Park
Day 3: La Padrera and Casa Batllo
Day 4: Gracia, El Raval, and La Rambla
Day 5: Barceloneta and Labyrinth Park

Day 1: La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell

Before Eric's conference began, we had to tick off the most famous of Barcelona's landmarks - La Sagrada Familia.  I heard many wonderful things about this masterpiece of a church, Antoni Gaudi's seminal work, but I was still unprepared for the amount of awe I felt during our visit.  My first words upon entering were "holy crap."

From the astounding trunk-like pillars to the minutest of details in the doors, everywhere you look in La Sagrada Familia, you'll fine something at which to marvel.  The structure, the light, the symbols - it's all fascinating and you can easily spend hours in wonder at this gem of a landmark.

After our tour, we grabbed lunch across the road (Eric and I tried the local favorites of paella and tapas) and then we attempted to make our way to Park Güell, another of Gaudi's famous works.  We got a bit lost along the way and by the time we arrived, tickets had sold out, so we couldn't enter the most well-known areas.  We were also in a hurry to get back, so we just strolled around the outside of the park for a few minutes.  I do wish we had more time to spend at this site, but Eric needed to attend his conference and our energy tanks were running low from a long day of travel the day before and a morning full of standing and walking.  We told ourselves we would return to Park Güell, but there was much more to see in Barcelona and we never made our way back.