Europe Travel

Travel || Barcelona

Several days after I turned in my MA thesis Sam and I celebrated by purchasing a Groupon trip to Barcelona.  Turns out it was a total scam.  The hotel that the coupon was for wasn’t the hotel they were going to put us in, we’d be on separate flights- all kind of crazy things.  We had to call 12 times to try to get them to redeem what we had purchased.  And by us, I mean Sam because I get phone anxiety.  I’ll talk to anyone in person but hand me a phone and really awkward things happen.  I have zero phone grace; I script out important calls.  But back to the story.  Luckily, Groupon completely refunded our money.  Bad news we were down one trip.  So Sam swung into action and sorted it out for us!
Our hotel was amazingly central.  We were just a short walk from La Rambla.  Since we were only going to be in Barcelona for two days we spent the first day on one of those Hop-on, Hop-off Tour buses.  Cheesy yes, but for short stays I recommend them because you can get a general gist of the famous sites, and pick which ones are the most important for you to see on this trip and which you can save for another.  Then you don’t have to feel like you need to run around frantically trying to cram everything a city has to offer in one short go.
Of course we hit up all the Gaudi Classics.
(Casa Mila)
Since I minored in Spanish and cultural studies are part of that degree I’d seen hundreds of pictures of La Sagrada Familia.  But they all fell QUITE short from describing the extravagant, fantastic, amazingness that is the Sagrada.
(Ceiling in La Sagrada Familia)
Sam and I both came to the conclusion that I “accidentally” force him to do things he hates.  Like being up high, anywhere.  The London Eye, the Eiffel Tower, the top of the Sagrada….
Parc Guell was my favourite part of the trip.  We spent ages there.
(Parc Guell)
We took the cable car up to the top of Montjuic and then walked all the way down, and crossed the city to the beach.  No trip to a seaside city would be complete for Sam without a trip to the beach.  If you do all the walking trails down Montjuic you will find all these amazing picnic spots, photo spots and playgrounds for kids and adults.  (Including the longest slide I’ve ever been on.)
On our last day in Spain we went to the Mercat de la Boqueria, aka the best food market in the entire world and also the part of the trip I was most looking forward to- all that food!!!!!  It was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
(Mercat de la Boqueria)

We also experienced culinary highs and lows.  We had some truly horrific Paella.  But then we also had some of the best chorizo I’ve ever had.  We also splashed out for dinner one night and it was one of the finest meals I’ve ever had.  And of course we hit up Bar Marsella, one of the last remaining 200 year old Bohemian absinthe bars.  Where everyone from Picasso to Hemingway liked to have a drink, and where part of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was filmed.  Obviously we both had absinthe, which while I found the taste unpleasant, I really liked the ritual in preparing it. (Be forewarned though, it is in the red-light district.)  I was convinced we were going to get mugged because it was really shady, middle of the night, we were drunk and Sam is too friendly.



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  • A Country Girls World

    I loved Barcelona, it was one of my favorite cities!

    • I would have loved to spend more time there! Especially when it’s warmer. Maybe you can give me some recommendations for next time! xx

  • I cannot wait to go to Barcelona. Sorry to hear about the scam part of the trip though. I too also have a thing with the phones. :/ I linked up with my post about Paris today.

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

    • Loved your Paris post! I’ve been twice and both times Pere Lachaise was on the top of my “to see” list and life has just had other plans! Even though the Groupon deal itself was a hassle and a scam I don’t want to besmirch Groupon as a company- they were quick, professional, attentive and had no problems giving us a refund. If only they vetted the companies they use better! xx

  • Casey Martin

    I haven’t been yet but hear such great things about Barcelona.

    • If you get a chance to go definitely take it! While the weather was lovely in December, I’d definitely recommend going in the Spring/Summer so you can take part in some of the amazing beach life! xx

  • tiarenie

    I lived there for 2 years and loved it! I’m sorry you had bad food, what a bummer! 🙁

    • Wow! I’m completely jealous that you lived in such a beautiful city for so long! While my first dinner there was awful, my second was on of the Top 5 Best Meals of my life. Also I discovered I could eat papas bravas all day long. xx

  • Cocalores

    We did almost all of the same things when we went – Park Guell was my favorite, too! Having lunch at the Mercad de la Boqueria was great.

    • Ha! That’s great! Sam and I planned NOTHING ahead of time and winged it when we got there. And I’m so glad we did! Guell is so special…. xx

  • ohh i am going to Barcelona this summer!! So excited! this was a good post to read before my trip!!

    • Even though it was beautiful in December summer is definitely the time to go! I’m a bit jealous actually! Can’t wait to stalk those photos 🙂 xx

  • I went on a cruise back in 2007 and one of the stops was Barcelona; however, we went out to Montserrat and didn’t get much time in Barcelona. I wish we could’ve spent more time there exploring because it was beautiful. Great pictures!!

    Too funny about the absinthe bar! 🙂

    • I really regret not making time to see Montserrat! It’s the first thing I’d do if I go back! xx

  • Staci

    I have phone anxiety too!! I think I still sound like a little kid & I am afraid they will always ask to speak to my mom.

    • You know how in sports athletes can choke? Well that’s me and every phone call. Ha! Being mistaken for a child on the phone has actually happened to me before! I was mortified. My only consolation is that my mom still sounds like a baby on the phone too and that’s also happened to her. xx

  • Oh this gives me wanderlust! I’ve been basically nowhere. So jealous of your travels! That’s crazy about Groupon… I’ve wanted to purchase one of those getaways in the past! Are they all scams like that?

    • Until my junior year of college I hadn’t been outside of America! (Not counting Canada) But since moving to England it’s been great! The stereotype is that it’s dirt cheap to travel inside Europe when you’re already there- and it is- but not when you’re paying off student loans in America with a London rent! So I can’t wait to have the opportunity to travel more. Traveling is one of the bigs in life for me.

      I’ve used Groupon a handful of times before and this was the first time I had trouble. Because I had good experiences in the past I didn’t research the company that was sponsoring this deal. HUGE mistake. Every review of them was awful. Groupon is great, just don’t trust them to separate the scams from the genuine deals for you. xx

  • One of my absolutel favorite cities in the entire world 🙂

    My Travel Tuesday Post

    • Have you spent lots of time there? I’d love to hear more! xx

  • Lauren

    I went to Barcelona a few years back, but I missed out on Parc Guell! We were only there two days as well, so we took advantage of one of the tour buses as well! They are super-helpful in covering a lot of ground in a short period of time.

    Fizz and Frosting

    • People make fun of them as being tourist-traps but they are honestly so helpful! I’m glad you took advantage of it as well! xx

  • Maggie

    Ooh I really want to go! These pictures are awesome!
    My boyfriend is the one with phone anxiety. I CONSTANTLY have to make phone calls.

    • HA! Is it really irritating to you to have to do? Usually Sam is totally chilled out about it…but he’s not always in the mood to me turning into a massive baby. xx

  • Emily Woodard

    I was just in Barcelona in January and visited all of the same places! I even stayed in the same area, right around La Rambla. This post brings back such great memories for me.

    I hope you had a blast.

    • We were there just a month apart! So they must have been super similar trips! I had a great time! I hope you did as well xx

  • Sam

    I’ve wanted to visit Barcelona since America’s Next Top Model filmed a finale there (in Park Guel!). Lame, but true. I’m going to use this post to plan my future trip!

    Also, totally with you on phone anxiety. My list of people/places I’m supposed to call is so long because I can’t pump myself up to do it. Ugh.

    • Sam, we must be secretly twins. I had that image of them running down the slanted/column part of Parc Guell in my mind before we went and I made my Sam take photos of me re-enacting that ANTM finale. I didn’t post them here because I was embarrassed and I wasn’t sure anyone would get the reference. Clearly I was wrong! xx

  • Amanda Marie

    I love that every place you visited had so much character! I’ve always wanted to visit Barcelona if not for the food alone. Your post is a great guide for some must-sees.

    • Thank you so much! Your comment means a lot to me. It genuinely makes me smile to know that someone is getting some good out of my old travel posts! xx

  • Katie H.

    I’m glad you still got to go, even though the Groupon was a scam!! And what a sweetheart to have your man take care of the arrangements for you!! And I am sure he is secretly happy that you get him to do things that he wouldn’t normally do…like climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower =)

    • Thank you Katie! I know how lucky I am that he loves to take care of things that I don’t want to deal with! He’s always glad he’s done them afterwards….I think….xx

  • Kate Hall

    I’m so glad you posted this, I am going to Barcelona for a 3 day trip on Saturday. Just made notes of everywhere you went to try and hit them all 🙂

  • Amy Lee Scott

    Amanda, this makes me very nostalgic for Barcelona! I, too, could spend hours and hours in Parc Guel–not to mention getting lost in the Gothic quarter. I have yet to take the cable car but it looks glorious! PS: I found you through the Travel Tuesday linkup and am so excited to explore 🙂

  • Holly Nelson

    Looks like you took the road less travelled! I have never been to Barcelona, but have always fancied it. I found your blog through the Travel Tuesday link up!