Having had our fill of thrills in Port Aventura, we decided to extend the fun a little by stopping at Barcelona on the way back. The weather was already nice and warm and it was mostly the perfect opportunity to rediscover this beautiful city we had visited a few years back with family or school trips. We only had one tiny day to explore Barcelona so obviously we had to be a bit organized and we’ll show you all the amazing things you can do in one day in Barcelona !
Before the trip…
First, you have to know that parking in Barcelona can be pretty tricky and expensive. With only a short time there, we opted for a day pass at the BSM parking lots we booked on Parclick. The good thing is that BSM is a network of underground parking lots that’s highly developed in Barcelona. Such a package gives you access to any parking lot of the network. We only had to pick up our day pass at the first place we parked our car and then we were good to go! This solution was pretty convenient for us as it allowed us to park each time pretty close to where we were going. We also had to anticipate our visits to the most famous Barcelona attractions: the Sagrada Familia and the Park Güell. The easiest way is to buy the tickets online to avoid long queues once there and to fully and quietly enjoy these magical places!
Panorama, monsters and stuff
Before arriving in the heart of Barcelona, we made a first stop at Montjuïc, a hill overlooking the city. It’s a good thing that the place has many escalators as the ascent can be quite tedious! The place is very well laid out and it’s where you will find the National Museum of Catalan Art, the Montjuïc Castle dating from medieval times or the Botanical Garden of Barcelona. The place is very lively and offers an absolutely beautiful view of the city, enough to feel special… despite the fact that it was packed with people !
By chance, we had parked our car in the parking lot located under the Caixa Forum which was hosting the Pixar exhibition showcasing 25 years of history. Being big fans of their films, we couldn’t resist the urge to go for only €6 ($6,7)! Taking pictures was banned so we unfortunately don’t have many souvenirs to show you but we can tell you that it really is a very interesting exhibition. It addresses the various steps necessary for the realization of an animated film and we learned a lot about the making of each film that made the success of the famous production company thanks to the numerous sketches, storyboards and casts displayed. We had a huge crush on the zoetrope made around the Toy Story universe. It is a pedestal where are arranged several figurines of the characters in different positions. When the base is activated, it rotates very fast on itself and, thanks to stromboscopes, it gives you the impression that the figurines are coming alive right before your eyes, pure magic!
Soon it was time to eat and, after having had to give up a trip to the famous Santa Catarina market for lack of time, we started looking for a place to eat instead by following our instincts. That’s how we ended up at Butifarring on the Carrer del Call in the city center. The place was absolutely deserted (it was Easter Monday so people were spending some family time) but the good smells that escaped from there got us pretty curious. Pablo, who served us was very patient facing our hesitant Spanish and explained the origin of the restaurant’s name. The butifarra, is a traditional Catalan spicy sausage which can be found today in several locations in Spain and even the world. Following Pablo’s good advice, we decided to taste the traditional recipe cooked in a wood-fired oven and served in a crispy baguette accompanied by delicious potatoes seasoned with a hint of sea salt and a garlic base sauce. A pure delight! An address that we recommend, for sure!
A little bit of Gaùdi
It’s impossible to spend a day in Barcelona without admiring the work of the charismatic Antoni Gaudi. This Catalan architect, who died in Barcelona in the early 20th century, has truly left his mark in this city he loved so much. Being the symbol of Catalan art nouveau, his breathtaking works are scattered throughout Barcelona and you can admire it at the Casa Batllò, the Casa Milla or the Casa Vicens. Being limited by time, we opted for his most impressive and well-known works : the Sagrada Familia and the Park Güell.
The least we can say is that once facing the imposing Sagrada Familia building, you just feel tiny. This phenomenal construction started in 1882 and is to date still not completed, it even seems that the construction is currently completely stopped due to lack of budget. This is why there are several cranes spoilling our pictures above. The photos on the internet where the cranes do not appear are just simply photoshopped! So yes, the site is not finished, but that doesn’t mean that the Sagrada Familia is a pile of open-air stones! From the outside already, it is simple to be blown away by the stunning amount of details and symbols carved into the facade of the Nativity, from which we arrived. The triumph of life is symbolized through several scenes related to the birth of the Christ as the wedding of Mary and Joseph, the Visitation or the Adoration of the Shepherds. Once inside, the wonder continues as the Sagrada Familia is huge and colorful. Many stained glasses from blue to red are arranged throughout the basilica and we advise you to plan your visit in the afternoon to truly appreciate the many sets of lights designed according to the sun. However, we were pretty disappointed when visiting the tower of the Passion, that is an option when booking your ticket. The view up there has not much to envy to the views from Montjuïc and taking pictures there was much more complicated because of the very narrow windows.
A cryptogram sculpted by Josep Maria Subirachs can be seen on the facade of the Passion of the Sagrada Familia. It’s a grid of 16 numbers that always add up to 33, the age of Christ when he died, no matter the chosen 4 numbers combination.
And finally, we headed to the Park Güell to our day in Barcelona in style. Also designed by Gaudi, this place was originally supposed to be a garden city commissioned to the architect by Eusebi Güell and was supposed to contain 60 houses and a chapel. Due to exorbitant costs, (Gaudi saw things big!), the work was finally completed after 3 houses and the park were built. Today it can be visited as a simple stroll and it is possible to admire some of Gaùdi’s very famous works such as the colorful salamander (good luck for taking pictures!) or the ceramic bench of the terrace. This very pleasant visit can be done in half an hour if you’re in a rush or through several hours if you prefer to take your time.