Most of our time there was spent exploring on foot, basically wandering around checking out the cities, the architecture, the people, and the food. We tend to use guidebooks more just to get rough ideas, rather than following any sort of strict itinerary. More often than not, by the time the end of the day rolls around it doesn't look at all like what we thought it might when we first left the hotel in the morning. We don't view that as a bad thing.
We walked past this door on one of the main streets in Barcelona one evening, and I stopped to take a look through the glass. Next thing I knew a gentleman inside opened the door and asked if we wanted to take a quick look. He said we could have just a couple of minutes, but we weren't about to say no.
Here's what we saw when we stepped inside. Quite an entry hall. This building is just next door to Gaudi's Casa Batllo on Passeig de Gracia.
We took a tour of the Palau de la Musica Catala, an amazing concert hall.
The exterior of the building is just as ornate as the interior.
Not your average ticket window.
The Santa Caterina Market was a great place to wander into for a late lunch after our tour of the Palau.
We had a great lunch at one of the little restaurants along the outer edge of the market. No tables, just seats at a long bar with views in towards the Market.
The Gothic church Santa Maria del Mar was built over a 55-year period in the 14th Century, consecrated in 1384. The church was heavily damaged in wars in both 1714 and 1936, and restoration was only completed in 1990.
I learned many years ago that when you go into one of these old churches you always want to look up. Of course, that was exactly what the architects wanted people to do, and why they are designed the way that they are.
Here's a view of Barcelona looking out to the sea from the hill above Gaudi's Park Guell. The wider green strip of trees just to the left of center is Passeig de Gracia, one of the major streets running from the Modernist expansion area of the city towards the older Gothic Quarter nearer the sea. Just to the right of that the narrow strip of green are the trees along the Rambla. Our hotel, the Doubletree Alexandra, was just off the Rambla a few blocks from the end closest to where this was taken from. It's a great hotel in a perfect location.
All this sightseeing made us hungry, so we spent a fair amount of time sampling the local cuisine. Some of my favorites were the many varieties of tentacled sea creatures, in this case grilled cuttlefish, or pulpito al la plancha. Seasoned with just some good olive oil, lemon and a bit of sea salt, it was quite tasty. Heather and I don't even have to fight over who gets the last piece - she prefers the bodies and I prefer the tentacles, so it all works out. This was at the tapas counter at Cerveceria Catalana, on Carrer de Mallorca.
Barcelona is great city for people who enjoy walking around finding new things to see and do. We could easily have spent several more days there.
We spent a fair amount of time in Barcelona visiting the various examples of the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, including Casa Batllo, Casa Perdrera and the Sagrada Famiglia. I'll put those in a separate post, as well as another for our visit to Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona football club.
Click here to see more images from Barcelona, Spain in May of 2014.