Barcelona is a city we have spent some time in previous so like Rome and Florence it was definitely a bit of the familiar. Last time we went however we did not visit the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudi and that has been in the works for over a hundred years. This time I made sure to book tickets. In Barcelona almost all the popular sights require you to book a ticket for a particular thirty minute window of time. I thought we could get away with booking the Tickets for the entry into the cathedral and then head to Parc Guell also designed by Gaudi later that afternoon. I did read that there was a large part of Parc Guell that didn’t require a ticket, and I was banking on a few concrete mosaic sculptures being on view for free. Well I was wrong but we’ll get to that a bit later.
First up was the cathedral. Many people only see the outside and impressive as that is the inside was breathtaking and well worth the ticket price including the rental of an audioguide. I can say I have seen nothing like it. The architecture is stunning and Gaudi was a genius in the design. He spent so much attention to detail. How sound and light travel through the space. It is definitely a must see if you go to Barcelona just make sure you book online first to secure your spot otherwise you may have to wait for an entrance time several hours later. This makes for tricky planning as a lot of the sites are like this so you almost have to plan out your day if you want to see more than one thing in a day.
After the cathedral we walked up to Parc Guell. One thing I have learned on this trip to always keep in mind is, just because it doesn’t look like much distance on a google map. There are often topographical things to consider. For the most part the walk up was a gradual incline but at the base of Parc Guell there is a steep incline, so steep that the city has installed an outside escalator on the hill. That was a first. Logisitically it got my brain humming how it worked in the rain and so on but it was very effective in getting people up to the main part of the park.
We arrived at the top and we proceeded to be told that the next time for entry to the main part was 4:30. Keep in mind this was at about 1:30. We opted not to book the time and not to be discouraged I just wanted to explore the rest of the park. Andre was not amused and yes, I probably should have researched better. He did not seem to want to explore with me so I left him sitting on a rock and told him to come find me. I quickly realized that that was a bad idea as the park was huge. Well, the area that had no entry requirements. I headed back to find Andre and he was no longer sitting on the rock where I left him.
I spent thirty minutes walking from one end of the path to the other and back looking for him. Just when I figured all hope was lost. I heard him calling from above. He thought he was climbing to meet me. To be fair, I did bark the instructions come find me when I left him sitting on the rock. Crisis averted we climbed to the top of the mount and a beautiful view of Barcelona and the Mediterranean below. Andre being a good sport suggested coming back the next day and we visited the Parc Guell wonderland that was Gaudi’s imagination. Originally it was designed to be a desirable neighborhood with unique design, but that failed project turned into a city park that is one of Barcelona’s gems. We returned by metro on the second day and pro tip: you can see live availability and book tickets at the Lesseps metro for Parc Guell. We obviously didn’t know this on day one because we walked up from Sagrada.
We fell in love with Barcelona all over again and by happenstance (another train delay) we adapted our plans to forego Paris and stay a few more nights in Barcelona. It was a good thing too because had we not. I would have not gotten my credit card back and we would have not found this little hole in the wall restaurant called La Masia. All of the food was delicious and inexpensive comparatively. But I will dream of the Crema Catalana, (crème Brulee Spanish Style) I had there. A few more days also was good to make us feel less on the go all the time. It truly has been a whirlwind and we have clocked a lot of miles.
Leaving Barcelona we made our way to our last destination, Amsterdam. Well second to last if you count our overnighter and departure city of Brussels. When we arrived in Paris to change trains one thing was definitely noticeable. We were no longer in the south. Gone was the warm Mediterranean weather we had been enjoying, rain and all. Instead we were heading to unseasonably cold weather. Part of me wanted to turn around and head back to Barcelona but Andre is from Holland and going to Amsterdam is like going home for him. I couldn’t deny him his croquettes and Patate Frites. Plus cold or not Amsterdam is an electric city.