At last, Spain! Barcelona greeted us with its gorgeous, balmy climate. The vibrant urban energy of Barcelona contrasted significantly with the peaceful surroundings of the last place we stayed, the sparsely populated Pyrenees Orientales. Each day in Barcelona, we explored different sectors of the city via the Metro (subway) and extensive walking. Most city blocks contained a bakery, coffee/bar, butcher, produce markets full of wonderful Mediterranean produce, and residential market.
Our culinary favorite of our entire trip was eating tapas in Barcelona. The menus are almost always in 3 languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. It was easy to order a satisfying meal by selecting two tapa dishes each. A favorite accompaniment is toast with olive oil and a light coating of pureed tomato, lightly seasoned. A glass, or sometimes a pitcher, of sangria perfectly complimented the meal.
Our Airbnb was a short distance from Antoni Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia, a basilica of sacred architecture that almost defies description. The exterior is wildly ornate, and the structures reminded us of the drip castles we built in the sand when we were kids. The interior, with no right angles, was filled with radiance from numerous stained glass windows. We visited the gothic section of the city, a park filled with native parrots, the beaches of Barcelona. One night we went to the magic fountain of Montjuic and watched the spectacular display of color, light and water acrobatics with musical accompaniment. The fountain was built in 1926 for an international exposition.
Public transportation is a priority in the city, as exemplified by the unique bicycle program where a resident can pay 47 euros/year and have access to one of the 500 bikes throughout the city and use them for 30 minutes without charge. This way, people ride the metro or bus and then jump on a bike to their final destination. Despite the traffic in Barcelona, all the heavily-used bike paths are separated from the car traffic for obvious safety reasons.
After a week of tasting the culinary delights of the city, our recommendations are: