I’ve been dreaming of a visit Spain since I was 11 years old. I was totally inspired by the knowledge that my Aunt Sue studied abroad there when she was in university in the 80s, and I spent a great deal of high school and college passionately learning Spanish (just a few credit hours short of a minor – damn!). So when Daniel and I opted for a non-scuba holiday in April and picked Spain as the destination, I was thrilled beyond words. We spent 10 days touring around Barcelona and Sitges, and now back home in Australia…all I have are wonderful things to say about the Catalonia region. Here’s the pictorial review of our 10 day vacation in Spain.
We flew from Sydney to Dubai and Dubai to Barcelona. All told, about 23 hours in the air.
We watched the sun rise over the Mediterranean on our 1st full day in Barcelona. Jet lag wake up!
We happened to be in Barcelona on Diada de Sant Jordi. The city was totally buzzing! Boys give girls roses and girls give boys books on this day. Although, I’m not in to gender norms. 😉
This was bizarre and amazing in all the right ways. Future inspiration for a tattoo perhaps?
The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona – a stone’s throw from the neighborhood we stayed in.
El Passatge Sert was an adorable passage connecting two main streets. Lovely to stroll through but only open certain hours of the day.
Our AirBnB in Barcelona was on Carrer Monec right in the heart of the El Born district. I can’t imagine staying in any other district now that we’ve done this one…
Right out front of our AirBnB was el Passatge Sert. There’s an amazing coffee shop called Nomad in there! But as you can see, the doors were shut this time of day. 😛
I became semi-obsessed with doors in Spain. You’ll see notice the theme throughout this posting…
El Born selfie!
Palau de la Música Catalana was at the end of our street in El Born. It’s a stunner.
We decided to do an open top bus tour on day one to acclimate to the city. It was a great way to take in some of the key architecture. This was Torre Glories (formerly Torre Agbar). Reminded me of The Gerkin in London!
St. Jordi day brought out the masses. It was complete insanity! OMG!
Daniel getting a tan in the top of the bus – at least we were up above the crowds! Yikes!
Try as I may, I could never fully capture how amazing the streets were in El Born. This is probably the closest I came visually.
Our AirBnb was perfect for our needs. A pretty large studio and immaculately clean.
Daniel testing out the couch.
Two thumbs up for AirBnB!
Our host, Raimundo, gave us a wonderful overview of the neighborhood and made loads of recommendations for food and drink.
The view out of our balcony.
“Lolea” became such a fixture for us during our holiday. Not only do they make amazing Sangria – they bottle it and sell it around town.
Palau de la Música at night.
We decided to play it smart with ‘no excuses’ and did 5 days of CrossFit in Barcelona. We picked CrossFit Eixample and had a really great experience! Daniel did his first full week of CF and I was super impressed. 🙂
Casa Lolea – literally 6 steps away from our AirBnB – became our favorite cafe in all of Barcelona. Breakfast, dinner….you name it and they do it flawlessly. They are also the makers of the sangria I mentioned earlier.
Antoni Gaudi and Barcelona pretty much go hand-in-hand. What I did not expect, however, is that Antoni was such a handsome fella in his youth! Woof!
Casa Milà AKA “La Pedrera” is one of the best known Gaudi buildings in BCN. Beautiful wavy lines…but apparently the locals did not love it when it was first built. Hence “La Pedrera” means “the open quarry” LOL
Plaça de Catalunya is a beautiful – albeit super mega touristy – plaza in Barcelona. If you do the ride-on open top bus, you pick it up near here!
We also did the mandatory La Rambla (or Las Ramblas as some call it). We were warned in every guidebook and every article online to be careful of pickpockets so we were on high alert! Nothing happened of course. It’s a cute, tree-lined street full of vendors trying to sell tourists stuff they really don’t need. 😉
Daniel has this uncanny sense of internal GPS – it’s really impressive. He remembered exactly where to turn and when so we could pop in to the Mercat de la Boqueria. This was a must-see!
If I had to summarize why I love Barcelona so much….it would be easy to say the architecture, the proximity to the sea, the people…but honestly for me, I would probably have to say it’s the €3 cones of Manchego cheese! (You think I’m joking??)
Just more mercat gloriousness – I really wanted to spill these baskets because they were so damn pretty! Is that odd?
Plaça Portal de la pau with the Monumento a Cristoforo Colombo at the top. He’s pointing West as this monument is in honor of his return after ‘visiting’ the Americas (as we all know by now he certainly didn’t ‘discover’ them). #HistoryLesson
Looking toward Museu Marítim from Rambla de Mar.
We made our way to La Barceloneta neighborhood – a cute, village-y part of town that’s known for restaurants, seafood, sandy beaches and nightlife. We found an amazing restaurant called Somorrostro and had a leisurely late lunch with both the sea air and wine flowing.
This was my first ever real paella. It was delicious…but just between us squirrelfriends, holy hell it was WAY too much work to enjoy. And honestly I just can’t eat shrimp that aren’t properly deveined in advance. I know that sounds a bit princessy of me but this is my blog and I get to keep it 100% real here.
A beautiful door looking directly across the street from Somorrostro.
I swear I only had one glass of wine at lunch before I took this picture. Although I thought it would be artsy, I wish I had just taken it straight on. (I’m too lazy right now to edit it.) Long story short: this is a view along La Barceloneta with the Hotel Arts in the background and the renowned Peix sculpture (it’s a giant goldfish!).
This quirky structure is la Torre de les Aigües…I think. When I Google it, it’s a bit hard to confirm. No matter…it looks like a Renaissance Fair and I love it!
We popped in to Estació de França to take a look at the art nouveau architecture. Totally didn’t disappoint! What a ceiling.
Ugh…not another “I’m leaning on a mammoth” photo! Like, haven’t we seen enough of this exact photo on social media???
My favorite dual selfie couple pic from the entire vacation. Here we are in Parc de la Ciutadella with the really intriguing Cascada Monumental behind us. Honestly, one of the coolest monuments I’ve ever seen.
Another door that made me stop and go “cool!”
Although everyone is forbidden from taking photographs inside the Picasso Museum, this is one of its quaint courtyard with the perfect beam of light poking through. We spent about 2 hours meandering through the museum and it will dramatically open your eyes to the incredible array of styles Picasso was capable of painting in – not just the Cubism works for which he is most known!
Fun fact: back when Barcelona was “Barcino” nearly 2,000 years ago, it was completely walled-in. There are sections of the wall from the 4th century AD still intact.
I loved this shot because I think it perfectly captured the Gothic district balance of old vs. ‘new’.
Cathedral of Barcelona – stunning, gothic, 13th century. We didn’t go inside but I wish we had!
Another door but honestly…would you have walked by this lushly green one without snapping a pic?
No photo could adequately capture this little miniature plaza. I tried. I don’t think I succeeded, but I’ll forever remember how much I loved this spot.
Eating Spanish tapas is my favorite way to eat any kind of meal – I’d rather have lots of bites of tons of different things and that is just commonplace for dining here. We were back again at Casa Lolea, which I think it’s safe to say was our favorite meal in BCN. Oh, and more sangrrrria.
I know…two food pics back-to-back. Not my normal approach but really, the breakfast we had at Al Asur cafe (a chain…gasssssp) was so damn photogenic.
We had our first dreary day in Barcelona and it happened to be the same day as our journey up to Park Güell, Gaudi’s whimsical escape in the northern part of the city. It’s kind of like if you took Charlie & The Chocolate Factory but removed all of the candy and replaced it with mosaic tiles. 🙂
You’ve gotta respect the tile work here…how long did this take?
The very famous “El Drac” fountain. So famous, in fact, that I would say it’s statistically impossible to capture a picture of the lizard solo without a human standing near it.
There’s no way I’m going to remember the name of this little bar/cafe but we had delicious sandwiches here while we waited for our ticketed entry time at La Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia: towering masterpiece of Gaudi. One façade depicts the Passion and the other the Nativity. The third is the Glory and is under construction.
Construction on La Sagrada Familia has been ongoing since 1883 and is expected to be completed in 2026. That’s 143 years but when you look at the church close-up and all of its minutiae you can kind of understand. And honestly, I think I was on hold with United Airlines customer service longer than that once.
Requisite Jesus on the cross. Part of me thinks they shouldn’t have put him under such a fancy umbrella though…
The stained-glass windows will absolutely blow your mind. Not going to minimize or avoid hyperbole here – they were incredible.
We did the audio tour whilst walking around and the most amazing thing I learned was that Gaudi’s design for the columns was meant to be trees and their branches. For some reason, knowing he created La Sagrada Familia with such an earthy / organic approach made me 1.) respect him even more and 2.) appreciate the design more as well.
INSERT [“Requisite hyperbole.”]
The Passion Façade was designed by Gaudi but the actual sculpting on this side was done by Josep Subirachs starting in 1987.
An honest sign. Again…SO proud of him!!! He rocked it.
We had dinner at Elsa y Fred (highly recommend!) and also had a special guest join us…
…Mary Hadley from my Ritz-Carlton days! She was in town on a business trip and managed to squeeze in dinner with us and a brief walk around town. We were very lucky to get to reconnect with her in Barcelona of all places!
The next morning, we hopped on the train from Barcelona to Sitges and 45 minutes later…voila! We arrived. This town is SO DAMN CUTE. Situated right along the Mediterranean and full of shops, amazing restaurants and great bars all along perfect little streets. Happy/Sigh.
The view from our Sitges AirBnB certainly did not disappoint.
Usually, I’m not a fan of non-stop boutique shops but there’s something special about it in Sitges. We popped in to several over the course of our time here.
The Parròquia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla is probably the best known architectural spot in Sitges. This is a cathedral right along the sea and the beach…even I would go to church here!
My mermaid fairy godmother anointing me and teaching me how to breathe underwater, without scuba gear. Took her long enough.
Sunny Sitges selfie #1!
Loved the winding streets and views like this one.
I refuse to apologize for my door fetish on this trip. Look at this one!
And this one! Tell me you wouldn’t want this on the front of your house??
This sums up Sitges in a single photograph if you ask me. The view toward Platja de Sant Sebastià is perfection.
Cafe culture game is STRONG in Sitges. We plopped down here, had tapas, drank wine and people-watched to our heart’s content.
Sunny Sitges selfie #2!
Now this door is really just a shout-out to my youth spent in front of the beloved SNES. (I’ve got nothin’ but love for you Mario & Yoshi!)
One of the reasons we added Sitges to our Spain holiday was the opportunity to enjoy International Bear Weekend during our stay. Bears from all over the world come spend a long weekend socializing in the extremely bear-friendly town of Sitges. They even have a bar called “Bears Bar” which you can see in the distance. I think I consumed more alcohol in the ensuing 4 days than I usually would in 4 months…
Social Sitges selfie! My second favorite dual selfie of the trip.
I think I put this on my Instagram with the caption “Vignette du mer” and that still sums it up.
Awwwwww he’s adorable. 🙂 This was dinner at what ultimately became our absolute favorite restaurant in Sitges – La Picara! Daniel taught our lovely server how to make a Lemon Lime Bitters, which is an Aussie staple. She said they are going to add it to the menu!
I’m posting this pic because my arms look big.
I promise this is the last door pic. It’s just so delightfully blue!
If the previous pic of San Sebastian beach summarizes Sitges sea-side perfectly, I think this does a great job of revealing the cool cobblestone streets you can explore.
Very much recommend a meal at Big Al’s in Sitges if you get a chance….they serve ‘American Style’ food and TBH they have it figured out. That was damn good ranch dressing!
International Bear Weekend was a total blast. We made new friends from all over the globe. This pic alone has representation from UK, Australia, Germany, America, and Belgium. Such lovely people!
Our final meal at 33 Sitges fusion kitchen. The food was a bit pricier than other places but worth the extra charge! If you had to pick between here and La Picara, though, I’d say LP wins it!
And there you have it! 10 days of holiday in Spain. I simply cannot wait to go back. I think that’s what makes me feel so happy about Spain – as soon as we were leaving, I already wanted more. That’s a good sign that you love a location!
After we wrapped up Spain, we hopped on a plane and jetted off to London so I could finalllllllllllllly meet Daniel’s extended family. That post is next up and coming very soon, my darlings! XOXO -JW