Us sitting on an iconic bench at Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
It’s not everyday you get to sit on an iconic bench.

It’s impossible to appreciate Barcelona in only one day. Of all the cities we visited on this cruise, Barcelona’s at the top of our list of places to return. This year we decided to act on that and will travel to Barcelona, Madrid, and San Sebastian. We’re planning on making up for lost time, hitting sights we missed like La Boqueria and the interior of La Sagrada Familia.

For our one-day blitz through Barcelona we booked a tour with Barcelona Day Tours and the guide Xavier was truly excellent. He had a degree in Spanish history and culture and it showed in his level of detail. The trip started with an “impressive views of Barcelona portion,” including a trip to MNAC, an art museum with beautiful architecture and a commanding view.

The MNAC in Barcelona, Spain
It’s probably impressive inside, too.

We shuttled among sites and I liked capturing random moments as we drove, including this mix of two of my favorite things—Dia de los Muertos skulls and tacos.

Street art showing tacos and skulls.
These things definitely go together.

Gaudi’s iconic style imprints the city. This building mimics St. George and the dragon.

A view of Casa Batllo in Barcelona, Spain

After a short walk to see the exterior of some of Gaudi’s buildings, we headed to another Gaudi creation, Park Guell. Initially a failed housing community, it’s a major tourist destination now. It’s a good reminder of how you may be a failure during your own age and then be a legend forevermore. #kathleengoals

Inside Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
So much to see, the eye hardly knows where to look.

The colorful mosaic tiles, undulating stone walkways, and quirky statues meant there was a surprise around every turn, often a delightful and breathtaking one.

A statue inside Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Last we stopped at La Sagrada Familia. I wish we had time to visit inside and will rectify this when we travel in 2019. Seeing the exterior of this majestic dissolving sand castle of a building had to serve for the first visit. It was hard to find a place for the eye to land, it was so visually distracting. The guide said it should be completed within our lifetimes and I’m crossing fingers we get to see it completed.

A view of the outside of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
Nope, not climbing this, either.

A view of the La Merce Festival in Barcelona, Spain
One of the many parades we encountered during our walk through the La Merce Festival.

After the tour, we walked Las Ramblas. We were visiting on the final day of the La Merce Festival, so the already crowded area was even more packed than usual. We waved wistfully to the closed Boqueria. We got stuck several times on Las Ramblas waiting for the holiday parade to pass. Each impediment felt like it took hours, as we (and a hundred others) baked in close proximity until the sun’s heat turned us into a sweaty, smelly mass. Eventually, we bull rushed our way through, nearly trampling a bunch of school children marching in the parade. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do—even if it involves assaulting small Catalonian children.

A view of Barcelona's oldest restaurant, Can Culleretes.
They’ve been cooking delicious food here for a LONG time.

Xavier recommended we try the oldest restaurant in Barcelona, Can Culleretes, and it did not disappoint. We arrived just in time, as a huge line gathered behind us seconds after. The hostess asked if we had reservations and through pantomime and garbled Spanish, I conveyed we did not. With a classic “the stupidity of Americans is never-ending” eye roll, she brusquely showed us inside to a small table.

A plate of jamon Iberico in Barcelona, Spain
The world’s finest ham.

A real authentic little joint, we shared jamon Iberico, pan con tomate, grilled squid, gambas al ajillo, and paella. The jamon was the standout. It had an intense flavor that almost reminded us of cheese it was so savory, strong, and musky. We paid a pittance for a platter laden with jamon, an Iberican feast. We didn’t realize how good we had it, until we’ve tried ordering Iberico ham back home, paying 50 dollars for an ounce sliced so thin it’s mainly a grease smear on the plate and a puff of air.

Paella at Can Culleretes in Barcelona, Spain
Now this is a legit paella.

Sated, we walked back down Las Ramblas and took the port shuttle back to the ship. That evening, we laid low. We read, we enjoyed some frozen drinks, and relaxed.


2 Comments on “Barcelona”

  1. Thanks for sending this my way!! haha I love the “since 1786” restaurant – they should have it down to an art by now! I can’t wait to see Sagrada Familia – I guess I’ll have to go back in a few years when it’s done (not holding my breath on that 2026 figure they gave out!) xx


    • One of our major regrets from that visit was being unable to fit in a tour of Sagrada Familia. Definitely something we’ll be doing when we return this November!


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