Next Stop Barcelona! The first two days of our trip went by much quicker than we could have imagined - an early morning flight on Monday led us into the city and before we knew it we were at our home for the week ... A BEAUTIFUL AirBNB loft in el distrito de Gràcia. Jet lag hit us pretty hard at this point but after a much needed siesta we powered through and tried to see as much as we could. After all of the recommendations (not only from our UBER driver but also from our friends) we had a list filled with things to do, and we started with the works of one of the most famous architects in the world, Antoni Gaudí.
First, we headed to Park Güell, which is without a doubt the most famous park in Barcelona. It is located at the top of the city, so if you are going to visit I HIGHLY RECOMMEND taking a taxi (and with any of the sites in Barcelona buy your ticket before arriving)! The park is absolutely gorgeous, filled with colorful decorative tile mosaics throughout the plaza and even on many of the animal sculptures. Much of the park is free to visit but the monumental site is where much of Gaudí's craftsmanship is on display. Plus, the gigantic sea serpent bench on the terrace will provide you with unbeatable, sweeping views of Barcelona all the way to the sea on a clear day.
From there we took the downhill walk to La Sagrada Familia, the most famous basilica, the "icon" of Barcelona and the burial place of Antoni Gaudí himself. Construction began in 1882 and it is STILL not finished - Gaudí spent the majority of his life on this masterpiece! We luckily had the last time slot for the day so it was essentially empty when we were visiting. Honestly this has pretty much been the theme of our trip - GO WHEN NO ONE IS AROUND! Unfortunately, this meant that we could not climb the Tower of Passion, but from what I had previously read in my researching there are far better views of the city (like Park Güell or the Bunkers of Carmel!). If you want to see the beauty of the basilica when it is just as empty AND climb to the top I would probably recommend going in one of the first time shots of the day. Inside the basilica the stained glass window works alone can hold your attention for quite a while, so don't worry! The alter is also one of the most impressive of any of the church's we have seen on our trip - making it Ryan's favorite of them all so far!
We decided to also do the last time slot for the day when we visited our final Gaudí stop - Casa Batlló. We were basically the ONLY people there which was amazing. We got to spend a ton of time in each of the rooms of the home and really appreciate all of the beautiful architecture and tile work. Casa Batlló is one of Gaudí's masterpieces, which was commissioned to him by Josep Batlló and built between 1904 and 1906 and was to be used by Batlló and his family as residences. You can see how inspired Gaudí was by nature and the Mediterranean sea, shown in the undulating shapes and shades of blue that decorate the home. The exterior is even more beautiful - Ryan thought the balconies looked like little Oscar faces! One cool thing about this visit was that the tour comes with a virtual reality guide so you can see how the home looked when people actually lived there - AND EVEN COOLER - the photos come alive with sea creatures swimming about and mushroom clouds flowing out of the unique fireplace!
There are many more Gaudí masterpieces scattered around Barcelona and the neighboring towns, but unfortunately we didn't have time to catch them all. Maybe on our next visit! Are there any Gaudí works that you have seen that you would recommend us to visit next time we are in Spain?! Please let me know!
PS: Here is a photo of Ryan outside of La Pedrera, or Casa Milà, another Gaudí building that we did not have a chance to visit, but admired from the street.