Here in Barcelona, it’s the architects who built the buildings that made the city iconic who are the objects of admiration – not a bunch of half-witted monarchs.Julie Burchill
May 31-June 7 2017
Leaving the Basque Country, we caught a train from San Sebastian and arrived in the eveining in Barcelona. It would be my third visit, and Maggie’s fourth. We had been once before together on our way to Morocco, and you can read about that visit it in the post 36 Hours in Barcelona. It touches on the major sites that we have seen before and some of the ones that we saw again during this visit. This time I’ll first focus on our previous visit one month ago (my second and Maggie’s third), where I arrived from Madrid following Seoul, South Korea, and Maggie arrived from the United States after spending some time in California for work. I’ll also touch on some highlights from the week we just spent there.
The purpose of our visit a month ago was to meet up with my family- mom, dad, brother and his wife. It had been something that my parents wanted to do for a long time, to get our whole family together somewhere overseas. I played tour guide the first few days, having been there before. I showed my brother around some of the historical sites while I took my parents to different neighborhood’s, churches, and restaurants. Together we visited the amazing Sagrada Familia and I was able to see a lot of the progress from a previous visit to the site. The big surpise though was during an evening when my brother and his wife ended up sharing some big news, announcing that I was going to become and uncle, and my parents would finally become grandparents. We were all excited and we’re now planning a trip back to the States to see the baby shortly when she’s born (November or December).
Leaveing Barcelona after almost a week, we also spent some time in southern France with the family before they returned home, we then continued through France (French Catalonia, Provence, Nice, Bordeaux) and worked our way back into Spain via San Sebastian.
Now we would once again be spending more time in one of our favorites cities, excited about yet another visit. Instead of staying in or near the tourist center, we decided to stay out with the locals in the Les Corts neighborhood, previously we staye in the Gothic Quarter and between El Ravel and Pablo Sec. It gave us a chance to expand our exploration of the city and into many neighborhoods we hadn’t been before. I was impressed with the Sant Marti area, and we enjoyed spending many evenings hanging out in the Sants neighborhood just south of Les Corts.
Of course, we visited the historical center as well, spending the most time in El Born. Maggie found a lot of comfortable places to work, including a café located inside of an old monastery. When she wasn’t working, we made sure to include a beach day, and made a visit to the expansive Olympic Park and Montjuic Mountain.
Starting from Plaza Espanya, the site of an old bull ring that has been turned into a shops and restaurants, we headed down an impressive boulevard full of monuments from the International Exposition of 1929. At the end of the boulevard and up several steps and escalators, we checked out the beautiful architecture of the National Museum.
Further up the hill we passed through several gardens before coming to the 1992 Olympic Plaza. Walking around we had amazing views out across the city, taking in the atmosphere before making the pleasant walk down to Poble Sec for some tapas.
Seeing more of the city during this stay, we used the subway system for the first time, as it efficiently took us to all the places we wanted to go. Barcelona continued to prove to be one of our favorite places- the Spanish cultural mixed with the Catalonian traditions, the weather and nearby beaches, and the diverse neighborhoods that each feel like their own individual towns within the city- each with their own central plazas and parks where the community comes together to hang out well into the evening.
Our highlight of the week in Barcelona though was a Spanish Civil War tour that we took. We love learning about the history and culture everywhere we go, which seems to be one of our biggest objectives as we have been traveling around the world thus far, along with sampling the food. It has far surpassed the need or want to see the main ‘sites’, and often leave at least one big thing to see in each place we visit in case we ever visit again.
The Spanish Civil War tour covered so much, focusing on the events surrounding Barcelona, and the important role that the city played. We saw of the sites that we had read about, as well as many others hidden in different corners of the tourist quarters, that you wouldn’t even know were there unless you looked. Seeing pictures taken during the time while standing in the exact same location is so special and helped us to connect and appreciate the city even more. The war itself is fascinating due to its many complicated layers, battles between the fascist nationalist and the leftist republicans, who themselves had their own internal battles. The war also helped to set the wheels in motion for World War II, so it’s significance goes well beyond just Spain itself. If you ever go, make sure to take the tour with Nick Lloyd via IberianNature.
The rest of the week I walked around during the day while Maggie worked, usually meeting up in the evening to hang out in a local plaza or square and enjoy a meal and some drinks. Returning to a place we now know pretty well, it allowed us to take things slow while relaxing and recharging a bit- making plans for some of our future travels, checking up on finances, washing our clothes, and basically spending the week as if we lived there.
Leaving Barcelona, but sure to return again in the future, we headed for the Balearic Island of Mallorca, where we met with some friends and celebrated Maggie’s birthday, enjoying the gorgeous beaches and clear blue sea- and doing some scootering again!