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A Girls’ Getaway to Barcelona

I was thrilled to have one of my closest friends, Rebecca, visit us in Valencia in the fall. Since she was flying in and out of Barcelona, we decided to take the train up for a few days to hit the highlights (without kids!) for her first visit to the city.

We stayed in a VRBO in the Gracia neighborhood with an incredible view of La Sagrada Familia:

First, we took an Airbnb walking tour of the city which focused on Antonio Gaudi’s Modernism architecture. Though we didn’t love the tour guide’s style, we did get to see and appreciate many of the iconic buildings such as Palau de la Musica, Casa Lleo Morera, Casa Amatller, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera-Casa Mila, and of course, La Sagrada Familia Basilica which is still nowhere near completion (construction began in 1882; I visited 20 years and five years ago and honestly haven’t observed much progress!). Later, we took a guided audio tour inside of La Sagrada Familia, which was simply phenomenal. I was more blown away by the stunning details inside the church than on the outside. Just make sure that if you do plan to tour inside, you reserve tickets far in advance as this is the top tourist destination in town.

Based on a friend’s recommendation, we arrived about 30 minutes before opening to snag a table at Cal Pep @calpepbcn, one of Barcelona’s excellent seafood restaurants in the eclectic El Born neighborhood (by the way, this is also a great neighborhood to explore for shopping and a generally cool, more low-key ambience than the adjacent, better-known Barrio Gothic). The meal at Cal Pep was so delicious and memorable that we returned on our last night to sit at the bar and try another selection of dishes. I also successfully convinced RT to try one of my favorite aspects of Spanish dining for the first time: regionally-themed pintxos (toppings on bread or toast that you pick on display from the bar) at the casual yet lively Irati Taverna Basca @iratitavernabasca, which she ended up admittedly enjoying as an alternative to a traditional sit-down restaurant.

I also took her for an obligatory stroll down Las Ramblas and we picked up casual lunch at Mercado de la Boqueria:

It was an action-packed 2.5 days but a lot of fun for her as a first-time visitor and for me returning to appreciate the city again, anew, after my last visit. And of course we had to pick up a few souvenirs for the kids at the Lego Store!