My family visited Barcelona two years ago and I yearn to go back. I still remember the crunchiness of the pan con tomate (toast with tomato) and the feast of architectural richness in Antoni Gaudi’s work. Gaudi is Barcelona’s shining star, an architect whose work incorporates inspiration from both his religious beliefs and from nature. He left behind a legacy through beautiful private homes, a colorful park, and the crown jewel, Sagrada Família, a still unfinished cathedral being continued through his disciples and public funding.
Start your journey at La Pedrera, an apartment-building-turned-museum that gives an introduction to the rest of Gaudi’s work. Charming settings of period furniture and informative exhibits make this a very accessible destination. After La Pedrera, hop on down the street to the graceful Casa Batlló. It is a colorful private home with a fascinating staircase serving as the central conduit for a kaleidoscope of light and colors. Rising out of the top of the house is a dragon’s body.
Early morning on a different day, venture down to Sagrada Família to make sure you can get in. There are few other cathedrals that can rival its scale, grandeur, and sense of awe. I wouldn’t blame you if you spend hours just sitting inside the cathedral photographing the walls and columns and ceiling. Each facade of the cathedral was painstakingly built in a different style but it is well worth the look. As a bonus, take the elevator up fifty meters and then walk down one of the spiraling towers to view the city from every different angle. Near sunset, go to Park Güell and enjoy a relaxing walk on one of the park’s many paths.
Barcelona offers plenty of shopping for the modern stylist, but take some time to go to La Boqueria, where you can find all kinds of exotic cured meats, fruits, and other delicacies on sale. Too bad it won’t be easy to take it back to the United States.
If you have free time, I highly recommend booking a tour to visit the rugged northern coast called Costa Brava. Just a couple hours’ drive away from Barcelona, it is the summer destination of many a European who desires a more private but scenic beach vacation. In the same region, history is brought to life. Medieval roots are deep in towns like Girona, where you can still walk much of the fortified city wall and learn about the city’s struggle with the bubonic plague.
Don’t forget to eat your fill’s worth of paella and pan con tomate.