Itinerary: Two Days in Barcelona, Spain
We had lots of leg exercises during our walking tour in Madrid, Spain, during the previous days. We were able to see a unique blend of old-fashioned traditions and hipster culture, and although we loved Madrid, we had to move on to our next destination, Barcelona.
Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia. It is Spain’s second-most populous city. I have heard and read about Barcelona several times in the past, and although I was really looking forward to exploring more of Spain, a part of me missed Madrid. Nevertheless, when I got to Barcelona, I was in for a fun tour reminding me that each part of Spain was unique, beautiful, and unforgettable.
Day One: Arrival in Barcelona
I left my heart in Madrid via a two-and-a-half-hour train ride to Barcelona. It was such a comfortable train ride that I forgot we had already left Madrid. How I wish the Philippines had such an efficient train system as this!
When we arrived in Barcelona, that was the only time I realized we had already left the Spanish Capital. I was in Barcelona, and it was, once again, a whole new adventure for me. We checked in our official accommodation for one night, Hotel del Mar (hotel info)(which translates to “Hotel by the Sea”).
While my other companions went to his respective hotel room, I waited for Monette, a good friend of mine who flew from Switzerland to Barcelona just to meet me in Spain.
Monette and I had a very long, catching-up conversation that we could not take note of the time. Before I knew it, Maria Martinez, our English-speaking tour guide, was already in the hotel lobby. Since Monette did not have any specific plans for that day, I offered for her to join us on our tour. I asked Maria for permission, and she gave the nod and a gentle smile. And with that, our walking tour began.
Our first stop was at El Born District, an area with walkways filled with cafes, bars, and various shops that all appeared fashionable and interesting on their own. Amongst the shops were galleries, such as the Textile Museum that also had a café. Visiting at least a shop wasn’t on our schedule, but walking on the streets with the shops bustling and with the walkways covered with trees was very relaxing and enjoyable.
Next to the El Born District was the La Ribera, where our next destination, the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, was located. The basilica was completed in 1383 and continues to overlook La Ribera today. The massive door of the church is decorated with figures that show how the church was constructed centuries ago.
The church’s façade is grandiose, but its interior has more impressive displays. It had dome ceilings and high, stained glass windows. The windows, which were hit by the sunlight from outside, illuminated the inside of the church with their various colors.
While on our way to the next place on our itinerary, our tour guide, Maria, reminded us to take extra care of our belongings while touring the streets, especially in La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous, tree-lined pedestrian shopping street. As a person who comes from Manila, I understood what Maria was trying to say, and of course, I knew well enough how to avoid perpetrators of the sort. Unfortunately, Barcelona had the problem of pickpockets (I guess all cities do), but we did not let that issue affect us in enjoying our walking tour. After all, we were headed next to Viana Restaurant for lunch.
Viana had a very clean and chill atmosphere. It was mildly busy when we got there, but we enjoyed our meal. We had some of their highlight pintxos, drinks, and desserts.
Our last stop for the day was the Catedral de la Santa Creu y Santa Eulalia, simply called Barcelona Cathedral. The church’s construction took place from the 13th to the 15th century, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
The church has towering spires, which contrast greatly with the afternoon skies. I could also see the gargoyle statues on its roof from afar.
Since the church was yet to open in 30 minutes, we decided to drop by the street bazaar that was just located in the street across from the cathedral. The vendors sold various items, including old books, jewelry, and antique-looking items like rosaries made from gemstones. Crowds of locals started to gather when the church finally opened.
The church’s interior was mostly dipped in golden hues, probably because of the orange of the afternoon light outside. The chatters of our group, as well as of the other people who visited the church, reverberated.
Before returning to Hotel del Mar to retire for the day, we took our time to visit some souvenir shops and a few snack bars along the way. I’m so glad I could travel again with my friend Monette, who, although she went to Barcelona without many plans, was able to enjoy herself.
We started our second day in Barcelona earlier than the first. If our tour on the first day focused on the local way of life, our second featured more of Barcelona’s artistic and architectural culture.
Our first destination was L’Eixample District, which is known for its artistic, modernist buildings. Walking along the streets of the district was very refreshing. It had a clean, grid-type city planning, which reminded me of Sapporo. However, what is unique about this district is its octagonal blocks. Although it is not immediately visible on a street level, an aerial view of L’Eixample shows the district’s very organized and clean urban planning.
Around the corner was the Casa Batllo, a very artistic building that stands out among the block it belongs to. The Casa Batllo is a house that was constructed in 1877 and was bought by a Batllo family a few years later.
From afar, the building looks like the back of a scaly dragon and is very eccentric compared to its very traditional neighbors. This building was artistically transformed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí, whose Obra maestro we were also set to visit afterward.
Casa Batllo’s interiors were equally as stunning. This is one of the only former-residential buildings with intricate stained glass windows that I have ever seen. In fact, it was one of the most colorful houses I have ever seen! The furnishings were bizarre, the roof was colorful, and almost every corner was decorated.
After the colorful attack on our eyes, we headed out for La Sagrada Familia, one of the world’s most monumental unfinished churches. Like the Casa Batllo, the La Sagrada Familia was partly constructed under the direction of Gaudí, who unfortunately passed away before the church could be completed.
We shrunk as we neared the church grounds. La Sagrada Familia was colossal, and we felt like tiny ants walking near it. Its construction began in 1882 and is still ongoing. The church exterior was grandiose and intricate, and I couldn’t wait to explore its interiors by 2026, the year when the church is expected to be finally completed, as well as the same year that marks Gaudí’s 100th death anniversary.
An interesting thing about the La Sagrada is that its construction is funded solely by the entrance fee and private donations. It is amazing how such an iconic church is only being run by dedicated individuals worldwide.
The Basilica was our last stop for the day, and when we left as a group, I breathed in as much Barcelonan air as I could. With that, our stay in Barcelona was about to end. We headed back to our hotel afterward to pick up our bags and then headed to the train station for our trip to Logrono. More stories coming up!
This 12-day street photography tour of Spain was a sponsored trip organized by Spain Tourism Board. We would like to thank Barcelona Turisme for providing us with press passes to some of the most important tourist destinations in the city. I would also like to thank Maria, our English tour guide for Barcelona, for giving us such a fun and informative two-day tour.
To know more about Barcelona, check out VisitBarcelona.com. Follow them as well on their official Facebook page (facebook.com/VisitBarcelona), Twitter (@VisitBCN_EN), and Instagram (@visitBarcelona) for more updates.
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This Spain Street Photography and Food Tour were made possible by Spain Tourism Board, Turkish Airlines, Madrid Tourism, Visit Barcelona, La Rioja Tourism, Donostia San Sebastian Tourism, and Convention Bureau, and Turismo Bilbao.
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