Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is definitely in my top three favorite cities that I’ve ever visited. I loved walking along Passeig de Gràcia where rows of modern utilitarian buildings were dotted with historical and modernistic ones like these:

Casa Battló and Casa Amatller

Casa Battló and Casa Amatller

rooftop of Casa Milá (La Pedrera)

rooftop of Casa Milá (La Pedrera)

"Soldiers" Casa Milá (La Pedrera)

“Soldiers” Casa Milá (La Pedrera)

Park Güell was one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen, not to mention having one of the largest terrace of its kind. The mosaic tiles and the pointy, curvy designs of its structures were almost dream-like:

Park Güell, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí

Park Güell, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí

terrace,Park Güell

terrace,Park Güell

Park Güell

Park Güell

A day trip to Montserrat, about 1 hr train ride from Barcelona, was a nice break from the city.  Montserrat is a mountain composed of many peaks. At the bottom is the site of Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine Abbey.  A funicular connects it to the upper part of the mountain.

Montserrat ("jagged mountains")

Montserrat (“jagged mountains”)

La Sagrada Famiglia, an iconic structure in Barcelona. Infinitely in construction, but even with cranes and scaffolding around it, still a wonder to look at.

Sagrada Familia, under construction since 1882

Sagrada Familia, under construction since 1882

On Sundays, try to catch the locals dancing the Sardana, a typical Catalan dance. You’ll catch these dances outside a cathedral, and you can even join in.

dancing the Sardana

dancing the Sardana

Tapas.  I loved the food here. I got into the routine of sight seeing for a few hours, then taking a break in one of the bars scattered all over the city for a drink and tapas.  I like how they have the food displayed inside a glass case so I just point to whatever looked appetizing.  And then I sit outside with my drink, nibbling on my selected tapas, and watch the crowd go by. This is one of things I love about Europe: their cafe culture.  This is what I miss when I’m back home.

tapas

tapas

Barcelona staples: chipirones; food stalls in La Boquería

Barcelona staples: chipirones; food stalls in La Boquería