Barcelona

Barcelona has recently become one of our favorite cities in Europe.  It’s got the typical feel of a large metropolis, but without the fast paced frenzy that seems to accompany most cities.  People here are friendly and fun-loving.  The streets are pedestrian-friendly, lined with large trees to separate the sidewalks from the busy roadways.  Many sidewalks have a park-like feel and you will find many people prefer to walk here.  There is great food and plenty to see and do.  It’s a lovely, lively place.

Fred, Kayla, & Kyle ready to start the day in Barcelona

Since Fred & I were just here less than two months ago, our main goal was to show the kids the amazing Gaudi church, La Sagrada Familia.  It is truly spectacular!  Beyond that, we just wanted to relax and soak up the great atmosphere.  In order to save time, we took a cab directly from the cruise port to the church.  Then, we just sent the kids into the church and waited at a coffee shop.  If you want to see some photos of the interior, take a look at my Facebook feed.  This time, I only got a few shots of the exterior facades.

Gaudi’s amazing church, La Sagrada Familia, from the side near the visitor’s entrance
Another exterior view of La Sagrada Familia
A view of the facade from the opposite side of La Sagrada Familia

While Fred and I waited for the kids, we walked through a local park.  It was a relaxing way to avoid the crowded pedestrian areas around the church and, as such, proved to be a much easier route to the coffee shop.  This is just one of the many, many green spaces that can be found throughout Barcelona.

Fred stopped to pose at a small park near La Sagrada Familia.

Of course, Kayla & Kyle both thought the church was incredible, so we decided to see Gaudi’s park, too.  It was a completely last-minute decision and it turned out to be a mistake, since at least parts of the park are being restored.  Also, we found out the hard way that there are no same-day tickets available.  After walking all of the way there, we couldn’t see much of the park at all.  We took the metro to the stop closest to the park and then walked uphill.  It was a climb and it was another hot day.  In this photo, you can see just a small part of the uphill climb that we had to do in order to reach the park.  Fortunately, there are a few escalators to help with the steep climb.

Here we are climbing the hill to Gaudi’s park, Park Güell.

On the way up, we saw this small area with padlocks like the famous bridge in Paris, Pont des Arts, where apparently the locks have been taken down.  I had to take a photo.  This was closer to the top of the hill, so the city views were already quite nice.

A small area with padlocks like the bridge in Paris, Pont des Arts, used to have.
A closeup of the padlocks with the view of the city beyond

There was a winding trail through part of the park that is free without tickets, so we spent some time walking around there.  It was also a mostly uphill climb.  You can see just how much of an incline we walked up at one point from this photo.

Here is a spiral pathway that we climbed in Park Güell.

Our hard work was rewarded with stunning views of the city.

A city view from Park Güell
Another great view from the winding pathways in Park Güell

We couldn’t get tickets to the park at the last minute, so we had to settle for a view of Park Güell from above the entrance.

A view of the park that we couldn’t enter since we didn’t plan ahead and buy tickets.

Kyle wasn’t feeling well, so I had to take him back to the cruise ship after we saw the church and the park.  We caught a cruise bus back to the port for about 3 euros each.  Kayla and Fred stayed in the city and walked La Rambla, a very touristy pedestrian street close to the cruise port that reminds me a bit of the French Market in New Orleans.  Fred ended up running into a friend, Clare, from high school on a side street there!  What a crazy coincidence!  Thanks for sending the photo, Clare.

Kayla, Fred, and Clare in Barcelona

Fred, being his usual frugal self, decided to try and walk back to the port.  It was such a long walk that even after an hour, they had not reached the ship.  At this point, Fred finally decided to get a taxi.  They still paid 6 euros for the cab fare (which is what Kyle & I had paid to ride the entire way on the comfortable bus).  My point is that it is possible to walk to and from the port, but it is an extremely long walk and most people are better off just taking some sort of transportation.  Cabs are readily available and some of the cruise ships will arrange shuttle busses as well.

Barcelona is an amazing city.  Paris is still my favorite city in the world, but Barcelona is a close second.  I hope you all get a chance to visit here…just make sure to take a cab or a bus from the port if you’re on a cruise!  Also, don’t try and buy tickets to Gaudi’s famous attractions on the same day that you plan to see them.  Oh!  Eat tapas – lots and lots of tapas!  Yum 🙂