My father once told me that Madrid was his favorite city and that he generally loved Spain. When my aunt shipped me a series of family slides last year I was delighted to find ones from Madrid in the mix, I uploaded the album: Carl A. Krumbach – Spain 1967. I wish I had asked him why he loved Madrid, but in October I had the opportunity myself to learn why I now love Spain.
I landed in Barcelona the last week of October. First, it was a beautiful time to visit. Nice weather that wasn’t too hot or too cold. It rained over night a couple times and a bit some days, but not enough to deter activities, and I was busy with a conference during most of the days anyway. It was also warm enough to go swimming in the Mediterranean, though I failed to avail myself of this opportunity. The day I got in I met up with a couple friends to go to the aquarium, walk around the coastline and was able to touch the sea for the first time. That evening I also had my first of three seafood paellas that I enjoyed throughout the week. So good.
The night life was totally a thing. Many places would offer tapas along with drinks, so one night a bunch of us went out and just ate and drank our way through the Gothic Quarter. The restaurants also served late, often not even starting dinner service until 8PM. One night at midnight we found ourselves at a steakhouse dining on a giant steak that served the table and drinking a couple bottles of cava. Oh the cava, it was plentiful and inexpensive. As someone who lives in California these days I felt a bit bad by betraying my beloved California wine, but it was really good. I also enjoyed the Sangrias.
A couple mornings after evenings when I didn’t let the drinks get the better of me, I also went out for a run. Running along the beaches in Barcelona was a tiny slice of heaven. It was also wonderful to just go sit by the sea one evening when I needed some time away from conference chaos.
All of this happened before I even got out to do much tourist stuff. Saturday was my big day for seeing the famous sights. Early in the week I reserved tickets to see the Sagrada Familia Basilica. I like visiting religious buildings when I travel because they tend to be on the extravagant side. Plus, back at the OpenStack Summit in Paris we heard from a current architect of the building and I’ve since seen a documentary about the building and nineteenth century architect Antoni Gaudí. I was eager to see it, but nothing quite prepared me for the experience. I had tickets for 1:30PM and was there right on time.
It was the most amazing place I’ve ever been.
The architecture sure is unusual but once you let that go and just enjoy it, everything comes together in a calming way that I’ve never quite experienced before. The use of every color through the hundreds of stained glass windows was astonishing.
I didn’t do the tower tour on this trip because once I realized how special this place was I wanted to save something new to do there the next time I visit.
The rest of my day was spent taking one of the tourist buses around town to get a taste of a bunch of the other sights. I got a glimpse of a couple more buildings by Gaudí. In the middle of the afternoon I stopped at a tapas restaurant across from La Monumental, a former bullfighting ring. They outlawed bullfighting several years ago, but the building is still used for other events and is worth seeing for the beautiful tiled exterior, even just on the outside.
I also walked through the Arc de Triomf and made my way over to the Barcelona Cathedral. After the tour bus brought me back to the stop near my hotel I spent the rest of the late afternoon enjoying some time at the beach.
That evening I met up with my friend Clint to do one last wander around the area. We stopped at the beach and had some cava and cheese. From there we went to dinner where we split a final paella and bottle of cava. Dessert was a Catalan cream, which is a lot like a crème brûlée but with cinnamon, yum!
As much as I wanted to stay longer and enjoy the gorgeous weather, the next morning I was scheduled to return home.
I loved Barcelona. It stole my heart like no other European city ever has and it’s now easily one of my favorite cities. I’ll be returning, hopefully sooner than later.
More photos from my adventures in Barcelona here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674260004081