Written by  Elle and Karrie
November 2018

In June, 3/4 of the Quad ventured to Barcelona along with our good friend, Sarah, who was visiting from the U.S.  Elle and B-Rizz had been to Barcelona twice before and were the perfect tour guides for first-timers, Karrie and Sarah. 

Travel (Elle)

This trip came on the tail end of mine and B’s jaunt back home to the States in June. The best airfare for returning to Spain was a flight from LA-Charlotte-Barcelona, so we thought a few days in Barcelona would be the perfect way to end the trip. B and I are used to long-haul flights, and know that the time you get to your destination makes all the difference in how you feel and how you’re able to recover from the ever-ominous jetlag. Our favorite itineraries have us arrive late at night so that we can get a full night’s sleep and feel refreshed and ready for the next day. Well, we weren’t so lucky with this trip. We were scheduled in to BCN at around 1:30 (or shall I say 13:30, as I have almost fully converted to life on the 24-hr clock system! Though I have been known to say ‘7:00’ when it’s really 17:00…it’s a process, people). This gave us a whole afternoon and evening to try and stay awake! Thankfully we were returning to one of our fave cities and seeing some of our fave people so it wasn’t too bad at all!

Standard airplane selfie

Karrie and Sarah’s travel was pretty easy-breezy as there is a train from Logroño directly to Barcelona-Sants station! They walked 10 minutes from Karrie’s place to the train station and hopped on the 4-hour ride in comfy seats with Netflix loaded on an iPad for the journey! Tickets to and from Barcelona are around 40$ each way – not too shabby!

They arrived around 13:45 to the central train station, and while we waited in the airport to get our bags, they walked about 40 minutes through the city (a quick subway ride but they opted for the pretty walk!) to our Airbnb in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. They checked in and settled in while B and I took the ~1-hour journey from the airport via multiple subways. Little did we know that checking into the Airbnb would offer a little surprise for us all!

Accommodation (Elle)

As an avid user of Airbnb, I am always the one to book the accommodation for any trips we take. I love spending hours looking for the best place to enjoy a new city, and I have about a dozen wish lists full of ‘bnbs’ I can’t wait to visit someday!

So you could say that I consider myself a pretty savvy accommodation-booker. Welp, I may have overlooked the tiny little detail that our awesome, central, super-cheap Barcelona apartment turned out to be a “shared accommodation”. Oops. Maybe the was why it was so cheap?!

To my credit, I showed the listing to all parties involved and none of us happened to catch this! My only guess is that I reset the filters off of “entire place to yourself” to include “private room” and didn’t notice?

Suffice it to say that Karrie and Sarah were a bit caught off guard to check-in and have the host point out “his room”! Thankfully we were quite lucky that he was very kind and actually out at work most of the time, so we didn’t have too many awkward moments (we won’t talk about that one night we came in late after some cava thinking we were home alone only to have him walk out and give us a polite “shhhh”).

**Also: we are all super open to sharing accommodation and know that it can really enhance a trip if you’re wanting some local advice and connection to a place! This trip, however, we had booked with the hopes of staying in most nights drinking wine, playing games, and catching up into the wee hours of the night, which we felt was a bit more difficult with the host there as he was quietly in his room and we didn’t want to disturb him!**

Don’t worry we still totally made ourselves at home

Overall, it was really no biggie and just led us to spending more time away from the apartment and take advantage of all that the city had to offer!

General Observations of the City (Karrie)

First thing’s first and that is discussing the safety of Barcelona.  We had read and had been warned by many people that Barcelona, like many other major European cities with heavy tourist activity, has a lot of petty crime, mainly pickpocketing and stealing of cell phones.  During our four-day visit to the city, we never once felt targeted or in danger of either of these offenses, but we were very vigilant about keeping our purses close to us and not leaving our phones sitting out in public view. 

Compared to where we live in Logroño, Barcelona is very international with a lot of tourists.  During our four days there, we heard more Americans speaking English than we have in the past year of living in Spain!  As one would expect when there are more tourists, there are more venders and people selling all sorts of things.  One of the more unique sales-pitches we experienced more than once was men in thickly accented English casually saying “weed?” under their breaths as we walked by them. 

One of our favorite things was being able to experience World Cup fever amongst the Spaniards this summer.  Being in Barcelona for the Spain v. Morocco game, we decided that we wanted to watch the game in a bar to feel the excitement and vibes from the local fans.  We asked our Air BnB host for recommendations, and he highly suggested that we go to an English or an Irish pub to watch the game if wanted to be around people cheering for Spain.  With the political tension of Catalonia seeking independence from Spain, many Barcelona locals are not too eager to root for the Spanish national team.  During our short visit to Barcelona we were not directly impacted by this complicated issue, especially since none of us speak of a word of Catalan, the main language spoken in Barcelona and all of Catalonia.  But we did not see one single Spanish flag during our visit and saw the Catalan flag flying everywhere with pride.  All of the locals we encountered in restaurants and tourist sites spoke nearly perfect English, a difference from Logroño!

World Cup and Cava

Gaudi Day (Elle)

Barcelona truly is Antoni Gaudi’s city. In case you’re not familiar, Gaudi is a famous architect from Catalunya whose work can be seen all around the city as well as in other parts of Spain. Gaudi’s style is truly unique, playing with themes of nature and religion and working with all types of materials, most recognizably mosaic tiles. Because we only dedicated one of our 4 days in Barcelona to seeing his works, we had to pick and choose which sites to spend our time. Here’s what we chose:

Casa Batlló & Casa Milá

Two of Gaudi’s buildings in the heart of the Eixample neighborhood, we were able to walk about 15 minutes from our apartment to this area and take in the architecture from outside. Both buildings offer tours inside, but we chose to simply stand and admire!

Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Casa Milá
Casa Milá

Park Güell

One of our favorite places from our last two visits years ago, B and I were so excited to show Karrie and Sarah the gorgeous Park Güell just a few subway stops from our neighborhood. We arrived to the expected crowds but were shocked to see gates and ticket offices. What the what?! Park Güell had always been beloved for its accessibility for all people to visit and enjoy without feeling like a tourist trap. Unfortunately, this changed in recent years and they started charging admission (I think around 8€) to see the “monument area” with the famous stone work, buildings, and iconic open square featuring mosaic benches, towers, and unparalleled views of the city. We were so bummed to have to pay, but figured it would be worth it. However, when we approached the line, there were several signs saying the park was sold out for the day. Turns out they only sell a certain amount of tickets per day and we missed it. Bummer! Thankfully, a large portion of the park is still free and open to the public, so we spent a lovely couple of hours climbing old steps for pretty views, listening to local musicians, and trying to find shade (it was super-hot that day!).  Even if you can’t get in to the monument area, Park Güell is still worth an afternoon visit!


La Sagrada Familia

Where do I even begin with this place?! Without getting too deep into the history of this place (you would all stop reading because I could write pages and pages about it!), I’ll give you a quick recap and show you some pretty pictures that we took!

La Sagrada Familia is a basilica in Barcelona that is the life’s work of Antoni Gaudi. His vision for this incredible structure has been meticulously worked on since the year 1883 when Gaudi took over as lead architect (the original architect started the project in 1866 but handed it over to Gaudi years later). Gaudi dedicated his time solely to this project from 1914-1926 when he died from injuries he suffered after getting hit by a tram. The project has resumed since his death and his designs and models have come to life over the decades. This basilica, however, is still under construction! It is expected to be completed by the year 2028, with the main work right now being the huge central towers that will make it even more magnificent than it looks today.

Since B had already been on the tour a few years back, and would be visiting again with his parents in August, us three girls booked tickets (in advance – they run out!) for the self-guided audio tour. We paid 21€ each and it was definitely worth it. The audio tour is like an old-school cordless phone that you carry and play info in different spots around the basilica. We all learned so much about the history, architecture, and stories that make this place so special to so many people. We also took time to simply walk or sit in silence and take in the magnitude of the place. It is truly a one-of-a-kind building.

You can see the towers just starting to be built in the middle
One completed side of the basilica
The inside pillars, meant to resemble a forest of trees
Cool tones for daybreak
Warm tones for sunset
So much incredible stained glass

The Beach (Karrie)

All four of us were excited to have one relaxing day spent at the beach.  The weather was perfect and warm enough that taking a dip in the Mediterranean felt amazing.  The people watching was as enjoyable as the overall beach vibe.  Like most progressive European coastal cities, bathing suit tops are optional for women and no one bats an eye at this.  This open-minded and equalizing atmosphere was very refreshing for us.  Like our time spent throughout the city, while sunbathing on the beach we heard so many different languages and saw people from all over the world. 

For our last night in Barcelona, we decided to return to the beach to have a light dinner and drinks at one of the open-air bars right on the beach.  This night ended up being one of our favorite memories from the trip, thanks to amazing conversations, even better company, and four (five?) pitchers of cava sangria!  We got to watch the sun set and moon rise as we talked late into the night until the bar closed.   

Sunset on the beach, the perfect ending to a fabulous few days in the city!

One comment

  1. Looks like you all had a lot of fun! I always enjoy traveling with you Ms. Karrie via your travel blogs!! Thanks for sharing! Its good to see you are thoroughly enjoying LIFE!!!


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