We had a number of things that we wanted to see and do while we were in Barcelona, and we knew that the weather was not being our best friend: we had rain the night before and knew that a day of rain was predicted for tomorrow. So we knew that we had to take advantage of the good weather today. We mapped out all of our sites and activities and set off!
Our first stop was Ciutadella Park! The park itself wasn't as nice as some of the other ones we've been to on our trip, but it had impressive buildings, monuments, and especially fountains in it!
Dylan in particularly loved this main fountain. He decided that it's on his top fountains ever list.
The park also had a zoo in it. We didn't go inside, but we took a picture with the woolly mammoth statue out front.
From the park, we ventured through some cute city streets to find a highly rated doner kebab shop nearby. This was by far the best doner kebab that we have had since we were in Amsterdam a couple summers ago.
After eating our delicious but messy kebabs, we checked out the cathedral which was pretty impressive. We also happened upon a book festival near the Barcelona sign.
From there, we started our adventure northward to the Placa de Catalunya, which is at the top of La Rambla (the popular pedestrian street in the city.) The combination of pidgeon feeding and pidgeon terrorizing being done by children (and adults!) here was a little terrifying to me, but we survived bird poo free.
From this square, we walked through a big shopping area to see one of the houses designed by famous Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudi.
From here, we walked to what is arguably Barcelona's most famous attraction - La Sagrada Familia - which is a church that Antoni Gaudi designed and started building in the late 1800s. Between war, funding issues, Gaudi's death, and destroyed plans, the construction has taken forever and still isn't finished. Apparently, the construction reached the halfway point in 2010 - more than 100 years after it was started.
We had tickets to go inside the church the following day, but we decided to check out the outside while we had a chance today in the sunshine. The size and modern-ness of the church are really quite outstanding. We drew some parallels between this and the White Temple that we had seen in Thailand. Both are equal parts art and religious site - and both are way different than any other building like them in their respective categories.
From La Sagrada Familia, we looped back near our hotel. We checked out a cool food market on La Rambla (which was quite packed with tourists), but we were more thirsty than hungry.
We decided that we would try to come back to the food market later and instead found a place to get some beers in one of the squares we had explored the night before.
Here, we noticed people drinking a bunch of fancy looking coffee drinks, which made me remember that I had read about Barcelona being a big place to drink Spanish horchata (spelled Orxata here in Barcelona).
I found a place that specialized in Orxata on the way to our next set of sites, so we got to try some!
The horchata in Spain is very different from the Mexican horchata that I've had before. Here, they make the drink with tiger nuts (which are confusingly a tuber not a nut) rather than rice. It was a little weird at first, but it really grew on me!
Our orxata helped fuel us over to the Placa Espanya and the gardens surrounding the National Catalan Art Museum. We didn't actually go in the museum, but we got some great views of the city after climbing quite a few stairs in the gardens. (Dylan thought that the fountain-lined stairs were too scenic to pass up even when an escalator was available.)
Behind the museum, the gardens took us to Barcelona's Olympic park (used for the 1982 games.) Some of the highlights here were (1) getting to go into the stadium for free, (2) seeing a guy swimming laps in the fountain in front of the Olympic museum, and (3) getting to compare our feet to some famous atheletes' feet.
Our feet were definitely feeling tired by this point, but we had one more site to see - the Montjuïc Castle. The good news was that the castle is just a little ways past the Olympic park. The bad news was that it's just a little ways up a steep hill. Also, we were coming to the hill from the opposite side of the main touristy path. We ended up walking more than halfway up a particular path, only to come to some really tall fences that we weren't willing to climb. So we walked down and found another, more successful path up to the top.
Once we made it up, we were glad that we decided to tough it out. The ivy covered castle was surprisingly pretty, and the hill provided us with great views of the city and especially the port below.
After checking out the views from the top for a little bit, we started heading down the main touristy path and came across some great fountains (Barcelona clearly excels at fountains) and a fancy hotel bar where we couldn't resist paying for an overpriced beer so we could enjoy the view from their patio and rest our feet.
Eventually we continued the last bit of our walk near some customs buildings at the port.
For an easy dinner, we decided to pick up some meats, cheeses, and bread from a grocery store on La Rambla for an in-hotel picnic.
With our groceries in tow, we got to catch the last bit of an outdoor concert in Jaume square before eating and enjoying some much deserved rest.