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Top 3 things to do in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain - the city that never sleeps

As I continue to retrace the journey of my younger self through Europe, I find myself in Spain where I was captivated by the slower pace, relaxed atmosphere, typical beverages and most bizarre creatures. And I am reminded of the top three things to do in Barcelona.  

There are so many things to do in Spain – Barcelona specifically. I only spent two nights there, so couldn’t possibly cram in all there is to see and do, but there are three things that I would do all over again given the chance. In my pinion, the top three things to do in Barcelona are:

  1. Explore and be amazed by what you’ll find at the markets – there is a whole list of markets in Barcelona!
  2. Marvel at the architecture – you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else like it in the world.
  3. Watch and soak up the atmosphere at a flamenco show – despite what I said when I was 21, this is one Spanish cultural experience you don’t want to miss (and one I’d love to see again with more appreciative eyes).
Barcelona, Spain - the city that never sleeps

Barcelona, Spain – the city that never sleeps

Saturday 7th June 2008

On the Contiki bus heading to Nice and I am so over travelling in between places!

Have been in Barcelona, Spain the past two nights. It rained when we got there so didn’t end up going out at night but the days were beautiful, warm and sunny.

Our tour guide’s tips for Barcelona – city that never sleeps
(seems to contradict the Spanish tradition of an afternoon siesta, in my opinion)

Must do: Gaudi’s apartments, food markets, Par Guell, Picasso Museum

Must try: Tapas & sangria, flamenco, walk Las Ramblas, party like the Spaniards

Must buy: Everything! Barcelona FC stuff, flamenco scarves, pearls, a bull!

Visited the Sagrada Familia – a striking cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi, but he died before it was finished. Gaudi was a famous architect so the people of Spain wanted to finish it. However, it’s  a privately funded project so, while construction began in 1882, it won’t be finished until 204. Our tour manager says she’s seen the plans and reckons it’ll be a lot later than that… The section of the cathedral that Gaudi built looks like a wet, dripping sand castle and is full of detail, but the rest is smooth-edged and looks like a completely different building.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain


The rest of the day really felt like a holiday. I went shopping and bought jeans and shoes, went on an hour-and-a-half cruise along the coast, strolled down La Rambla and watched the street performers and the crazy markets that even sold animals on the street – like ferrets, tortoises, iguanas, fish, rabbits and some other things I’ve never seen before – one which looked like a dingo x rat x echidna!

Comedian street performer at the markets in La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

Comedian street performer at the markets in La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain – did not expect him to pull that pipe from his bag of tricks!

Went to a flamenco dinner and dance evening and that was an experience. I won’t be doing it again, but it was good to see something like that. The ladies wear dresses which cover them head to toe, but they look so sexy and classy. The men all have long hair and look every inch a “Spaniard” and the singers’ accents were so strong and their voices so loud. The food wasn’t that great. We had gazpacho – a cold tomato soup, which is a traditional Spanish dish, and finished with a burnt creme brûlée and the strongest espresso coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Flamenco night in Barcelona, Spain

An evening of flamenco dance and traditional dining in Barcelona, Spain

Flamenco dancer

Flamenco dancer

The lunch Tim and I had was amazing. We had tapas and sangria at a restaurant along La Rambla. There was a potato-based omelette, spanish sausage, meatballs, a tuna dish, calamari and baked potatoes with a creamy sauce and tomato paste. The sausage and potatoes were my favourite. And they gave us two big slices of damper with a tomato paste/sauce on it, which we splashed with a bit of olive oil and salt. The sangria was served in massive “fish bowl” glasses and tasted so good! I felt it going straight to my head and when I stood up I had to find my balance… But it was great!

Spanish tapas and sangria at a restaurant along La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

Spanish tapas and sangria at a restaurant along La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain – an empty cafe usually isn’t a good sign… but we were suitably impressed.

A lovely relaxing day (except, I think the tapas made me a little queasy later on… but it was still so good)!

Catch up on my European travels:

You might also like my grandmother’s European journey as a solo female traveller in 1952

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