Travels in Spain: Barcelona

We decided on a Barcelona trip when a musician we like planned to put on a concert there; although late January is not the ideal time to visit the city, weather-wise, we thought it would be cool to see a concert in Barcelona, so we bought tickets and built a four-day trip around it. There are flights directly from Austurias airport to Barcelona, and are very reasonable; we found an airbnb and off we went.

Well, a week before our trip, they cancelled the show, most likely, due to covid. While annoying, we were still excited to visit Barcelona, as we had been once before, back in 2008, where a good friend of ours accompanied us for a trip to celebrate Jesse’s birthday.

We arrived early in the morning, well before the check-in time for the airbnb, so went straight to breakfast, at a restaurant called La Desayunaria, which serves American and English, and Spanish style breakfast, all day. We were there at brunch time in the US, so did as we normally did back in the US; we ordered coffee, Mimosas, pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash-browns; it was the first time we had eaten a breakfast like this in almost a year; and it was glorious.

While we continued to wait for check-in, we walked the nearby neighborhood, first through the Mercat de Sant Antoni, an indoor market housed in an impressive, train-station like building, with shiny, bright halls and stalls selling what a normal Spanish market sells; meats, veggies, fruits, and fish, all so fresh and tasty. With a bit more time to kill, we stopped and had a drink on the balcony of El Cercle and watched the people in the small square below.

End of January and Christmas lights still up

We checked into the airbnb in the El Raval neighborhood. It was situated very near to the main tourist street, Las Ramblas, which is usually full of visitors and outdoor kiosks selling periodicals, knock-off Barcelona soccer jerseys, churros, ice cream (though it was way too cold for ice cream). We had two tours booked, Casa Batlló, an Antoni Gaudí designed home and La Sagrada Familia, but besides that, we had no firm plans. We always enjoy museums, as I have mentioned many times, so we leisurely walked through the streets, enjoying the sunshine, until we arrived at National Art Museum of Catalunya, which is located in Montjuic park, high above the city.

The museum was a reasonably priced 12 Euro + 2 extra for the rooftop terrace view and Gaudí exhibit. The museum is very large, and we could not see it all, however a bit of research told us the Medieval Romanesque art was the must see, so we made a beeline to it. The art within was removed and transported from nearby churches in decay around Catalunya, back in the 1930s. Restoration of these brought bright colors to the church scenes painted on the walls and in the altars found in these 10th- to 12-century houses of worship, which were, as best as they could, recreated in the exhibit. Alcoves, archways and the walls were adorned with the art just as they were in the original churches.

There were also a few wall hangings that stood out because of how preserved and colorful they are. Truly unique and stunning, there were many to gaze upon, as one must when visiting the museum.

Our next stop was the Modern Art gallery which was the entire second floor. We were only able to see half of it, but what we did see was a great collection of many years of Modern Art by a variety of Artists, including my two favorites below.

El retaule de l’amor by Julio Romero de Torres, 1910
Female Figures by Alexandre de Riquer, 1887

The museum had the comfiest leather couches that one sunk into, and we rested our weary feet as we sat in the main vestibule of the museum, taking in the beautiful lampposts that lined the different staircases and walkways. After a good respite we proceed to the basement, which was home to the temporary (through June 3rd, 2022) Re (Discover) Gaudí: Fire and Ashes, which had furniture, tiles, a rod-iron gate, ad even ceramic baby heads, all designed by the Artist, to be used in the homes and other buildings he designed. We learned that he was a favorite of the bourgeois at the time, as designed many homes for wealthy clients and patrons; his original workshop at La Sagrada Familia was even burned down by anarchists (ten years after his death).

We checked the time was sunset at around 5:40pm, so made our way up five or so flights of stairs (the elevator was broken) until we reached a guard in front of the door to the rooftop terrace. He told us we had fifteen minutes to explore the expansive, treated-wood floor roof of the museum. We arrived at just the right time, as the sun was setting on our first day in Barcelona.

Ah, sunset in Barcelona

The exit was at the opposite end of the roof, and on our way there we were treated to one more spectacular view of the city from high above.

Barcelona, facing the Plaza de les Cascades

We left the museum, stopping at a wicker and bamboo inspired bar called Cuba de Janiero for a drink and a snack, which played the quite common soundtrack of popular rock and pop songs redone in a jazz feel; we have been in many cafes and bars in Spain that utilize this type of soundtrack. We have fun and see which one of us can guess the original song first. After we walked past a Mexican place, and proceeded to split three street tacos and a burrito; which were reminiscent of Los Angeles and made us hearken back to our previous home. We retired to the airbnb soon after, excited for our second day in Barcelona.

Published by Phil Barrington

Currently living in Spain, Accountant by Day, Writer by Night. Lover of baseball, travel ,and spreadsheets. Check out my blog:

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