2 : marked by extravagance or sometimes tasteless showiness : outlandish gaudy lies gaudy claims; also : exceptional a gaudy batting average
Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word gaudy may seem clear, but there won’t be any ambiguity if you ever make it to Barcelona. The eponymous architect Antoni Guadi- from which the adjective derives- created the ostentatious architecture that dominates this Mediterranean metropolis and has undoubtably contributed to its mass appeal. Barcelona is the most popular city in Spain for several reasons and we are happy to provide you with a tell-all-guide in today’s post, the first of our travel series, featuring this Catalan gem.From the Washington DC area there are several direct flight options into Barcelona. Combat the jet lag by grabbing some coffee and immediately hitting up the AIRE: Ancient Baths. They have locations in New York, Chicago, and Seville as well. You can get the basic pass providing access to a variety of thermal baths and saunas or splurge for the full Hammam experience with massage and the works. PSA: Coffee and beer are both acceptable drinks at any time of day in Spain. Maybe you skip the spa?
The Room Mate Pau has a great price and location, near the Plaça d’Espanya y Las Ramblas- and the Hotel Ohla has a phenomenal rooftop pool, locale, and did I mention a Michelin restaurant on-site? Both offer breakfast buffets too.
Casa Batlló: One of Gaudi’s famous works – at one point in time it served as the private residence of a wealthy family, then apartment building and now a museum with a fantastic self guided tour, one of the best in Europe. This is a must-do!
Sagrada Famiia- an in-the-works Gaudi masterpiece and arguably one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. Get your tickets ahead of time. Self guided tour option or small group tours are both excellent. Also a must-do.
Park Guell: The artist’s famous park with nice views of the city. Great place to take some snacks/drinks and take a little break! Some areas are free to the public at all times and others require a ticket (advised to get in advance). The paid option includes a small Gaudi museum in his former home.
Picasso Museum: I have been to several Picasso Museums and my friend Maria has been to several more and we both felt the same way….this one is by far the best! Its includes many works from various points in his life including rare works from his Blue Period and a great auxiliary section on his (healthy?) obsession with Velazquez’s Las Meninas.
Barcelona Cathedral- The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia also known as Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. While this might not have the pizazz factor of the Sagrada Familia, it’s worth the trip, especially if you’re super into gothic cathedrals. Great views from the top PS. Pay the 3 Euro to take the lift.
Barceloneta/ Port Area: Great barrio with lots of bars, terrazas, and beach views.
Las Ramblas / La Boqueria: Las Ramblas is one of the most famous streets in Spain but watch your wallet! Everything on it is arguably a tourist trap except for the Boqueria market. It’s a really good market though.
Gracia, E’ixample, Gotic – These are the main neighborhoods worth seeing. E’ixample has the high end shopping streets and lots of Michelin restaurants. Gracia (home of Park Guell) and Gotic have a more typical historic European feel with narrow streets and lively bars. Both hotel suggestions are in the Gotic neighborhood.
No reservations here so come early! We went for lunch and it was already packed by 2PM. No frills and great food. This is one of those places where they speak Catalan, not Spanish (get used to this in parts of Catalonia) Order the bomba- they are known for it – it’s a croqueta rice ball tapa.
This is the hottest ticket in town as far as restaurants go. From the Adria family, some of the most famous chefs in the world, it’s understandably the toughest reservation to snag. Reservations open at midnight two months in advance and sell out pretty quickly, but you may get lucky depending on your dates. They do both a tasting menu or you can order a la carte. Also if they do not have availability the dates you are in town, they are also affiliated with a handful of other highly rated restaurants within a stone’s throw of their featured spot. Check it out!
Getting Around: Barcelona is big! Unless you want to stay confined to a particular neighborhood, I would download the MyTaxi app or study up on the public transport system to get the most out of this beautiful place. Uber works here too, but does not in many other parts of Spain.