July 14, 2011

People have said they want to hear more about our honeymoon in Barcelona. Great!

A lot of people asked how we chose Barcelona as our honeymoon destination. Originally, we thought about going on a beach vacation, but realized we might get bored. Then, we thought about going to Rome and Florence, but realized that with SO MUCH to see in both those places, we’d feel a lot of pressure to sightsee. Barcelona was the perfect happy medium. We wanted to go somewhere that had lots of interesting cultural things to do, but, since it was our honeymoon, we also wanted someplace where we could relax on the beach and stroll around without feeling like we were “wasting time.” It was a great choice for us! I figure I’ll walk you through our trip chronologically.

We got our bearings by taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour on the first day. This allowed us to get a general sense of the layout of the city. It also helped us scope out the big landmarks quickly, to see if we’d like to take the time to revisit them later. And given our intense jetlag, it provided a much needed break from walking around the city.

We took a walk to the Born neighborhood and to the docks to watch the boats come in most days of our trip. The Born neighborhood is funky, less touristy, and full of interesting shops and restaurants. And the harbor? Well, we just like boats.

One afternoon, we strolled over the the breathtaking Sagrada Familia– a spectacular cathedral designed by Gaudi. He designed such an elaborate building plan that it’s current completion estimate is 2026. I’ve heard its worth the Euros and the wait in line to see the inside, but Will and I were pretty pleased and awestruck enough with the outside.

We spent a lot of time sitting in and strolling through Barcelona’s many beautiful city parks. Like this one, across the street from Sagrada Familia.

We took a very quick jaunt through Las Ramblas (the most touristy part of Barcelona) just to a) see it and b) to visit La Boqueria (the farmer’s market). They have EVERYTHING at La Boqueria. Including, as pictured above, skinned squirrels, with eyeballs still attached (sorry for the bad pic, but I didn’t want to draw further attention to the fact I found these freakish). We also bought some fruit here for our room, since we found it very difficult to eat enough produce during our trip. I think a trip to La Boqueria is essential, but I don’t know that we missed much by going through Las Ramblas so quickly.

Park Guell (which is what the first photo in the post is from). Unquestionably a must-see. An enormous park designed by Gaudi. Beautiful flowers next to Dr Seussian-like buildings and sculptures. The park is huge (and free!) and is a wonderful place to spend hours on a sunny afternoon. And I do mean hours. We were there for about 5 hours and still saw only 75% of the park. Great for exploring.

And for climbing to the top of for a panoramic view of the city!

We took a day trip to the beautiful beach town of Sitges. While we definitely loved the beach area of Barcelona (Barceloneta), Sitges was quieter, less crowded, and had even warmer, clearer water. It is a relaxed beach town, with many shops and restaurants to explore. It is also one of Europe’s top gay destinations. If you’re feeling tired of sightseeing in the city, Sitges is a welcome diversion. We traveled to Sitges by train from the Estacio Sants train station in Barcelona, and tickets were less than 10 euros for the two of us. By the way, if you’re like us, everyone will tell you the everyone in Barcelona speaks English. That is not true, particularly at the train station. Know the words for “2 tickets” and “round trip” and “what track?”

We budgeted for one guided tour, and chose Spanish Trails’ Monserrat and Wine Country Tour. We knew that if we selected a good tour company, we’d get insider information on the places we wanted to go, avoid crowds, and see some sites off the track of the Metro or train without having to rent a car and (worst of all) drive in Spain, where the traffic all too often resembles the motorcycle chase scene in The Bourne Ultimatum. We were thrilled with Spanish Trails (which we found because it’s the 2nd highest ranked Spanish tour company on trip advisor) where our friendly and personable tour guide whisked us around Monserrat so we could see all the neat stuff and avoid the massive crowds.

We saw the awe-inspiring monastery, and took a beautiful cliff side walk there, where various scenes of The Passion (some designed by Gaudi) are displayed on the side of the mountain. This walk is (surprisingly) not advertised. We might not have ever found it if we didn’t go with the tour.

We then ate lunch and strolled through a little town I mentioned in my Pa Amb Tomaque post. And then proceeded to taste (too much) wine and cava at a quaint little countryside winery. While this tour is pricier than others it is all inclusive, which many are not. It included everything, from lunch to funicular tickets. And it was fun and stress-free.

We spent our last two days strolling around the city in the morning, visiting the beach at Barceloneta in the afternoon, and eating out at great places at night. It was a perfect 8 day honeymoon.

If you’re planning on visiting Barcelona, I’d be happy to talk to you or email you about it! I am definitely no Fodors, but we did have a great time and, I think, made some really great decisions on how to spend our time and money.


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