Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Exploring Barcelona - Part II

After a solid week, I had Friday to myself to explore the city (it was cheaper to fly home on Saturday, and I always take that option if I can!). I walked about 15 miles checking out sites in the city, starting with Casa Milà. Designed by famed architect, Antoni Gaudi, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and former private residence was built between 1906-1912. I really wanted to go inside but I had a goal of seeing everything I could by foot.
Since I had grabbed a salad for lunch earlier (not that blog-worthy), I treated myself to this amazing ice cream creation at Rocambolesc of chocolate ice cream, toasted sesame seeds, honey rocks, and Italian meringue (that was lightly torched before serving up). It was amazing!
If you've been to Barcelona, you already know that it is a design and architectural dream come true. Around every corner, courtyard, and square is another delightful church, balcony-lined building, or fancy wall. The weather was perfect for walking and looking at everything.
I find a lot of my travel tips for new places on other people's blogs, but I read about Casa Gispert in a magazine interview between Samin Nosrat (of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat fame) and a Money magazine editor (I'm a nerd, I know). Anyway, this food store is one of the oldest in the city and is filled with an amazing array of food, coffee, tea, and spice products. I just looked around, mostly because I never check a bag and also fail to fully understand what Customs will seize from me.
This is Barcelona's Arc de Triomf - roughly half the size of the one in Paris, and built 80 years later in 1888 - which served as the entrance to Spain's first international World's Fair. I liked that in addition to the beautiful structure, there was a chalk artist drawing something Picasso would have loved (in the foreground).
No walking tour of Barcelona is complete without a visit to La Sagrada Família. Another of Guadi's masterpieces, you may have heard the story of how this basilica has been under construction (still yet to be completed) for the past 137 years (its expected completion date is 2026, so start saving up!). It's a bit difficult to get a great representation of all that is going on in the structure - it's across the street from a park and nestled next to buildings in the city - but it's pretty spectacular.
After a satisfyingly long day of walking, I headed up to the fifth-floor rooftop deck of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for one of the most delicious and refreshing cocktails I've ever had - it was the special of the week (so I couldn't copy down the ingredients) but it had a local gin, mint, lime, and cucumber. Alongside an incredible 360 view of the city, it was the perfect end to my walking tour.
If you've spoken to me this year, you might have heard me mention my "no buying year" (I have a journal and everything). Meant to bring more mindfulness to my purchasing habits, and an overabundance of everything I already need, I am cutting way back to only buying necessities. Since I always like to mark travels with art or clothing purchases that will remind me of my travels long after, I was conflicted about whether or not to buy these Spanish espadrilles. As you might guess, I did buy them (my journal does allow me a monthly treat option), and I feel good about it. Thanks for stopping by!

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