First of all, I’d like to apologize for the delay in this post, but after months of taking a break from writing and getting back in to the right headspace, I’m ready to highlight my travels this past summer. As most of my wonderful followers know, I visited Europe (specifically Barcelona, Paris and London) for the first time back in August. It is still surreal to me that I’m able to say I had the opportunity to travel there, and I am grateful for every minute of the trip. I rekindled my love for photography and took more than 2,000 photos throughout our two-week stay (and yes, editing them took FOREVER), but pictures really don’t do the gorgeous landscapes and delicious food justice.
Before our trip, my brother and I did a ton of research via YouTube videos, Yelp reviews, and travel blogs to figure out what we really wanted to do in the span of 3-4 days. Although incredibly difficult and tiring, we feel like we made the most of our time in each country and saw everything we wanted to see. To keep this post short and to the point, here’s a breakdown of my favorite restaurants and attractions at our first stop, Barcelona, Spain:
Sensi: After a long day of flying, we spent our first night celebrating my brother’s birthday at a restaurant specializing in tapas. Given that it was almost midnight when we got settled in, the high energy in the restaurant was undeniable. It was a small spot and the tables were close together, so keep in mind to reserve a table before coming in as it can get busy pretty quickly. My family got lucky because a table of four was leaving as soon as we walked in, so we didn’t have to wait long. The service was extremely helpful, so that paired with a wide range of tapas, we ended up just ordering everything our waitress recommended for us. I’d have to say my favorites came down to the truffle ravioli, baby chorizo, and the pork loin. All ingredients were fresh and made-to-order, and despite being tapas, fulfilled our appetites.
L’Amfora: Also known as “La casa de la paella,” or, “the house of paella.” Oh man, the seafood paella here was to die for. Paired with their homemade sangria, there’s no way you can go wrong. Every bite contained a mouthful of delicious, savory flavors. The portions are huge, so be prepared to share (there is also a fair warning posted on the menu–each dish feeds two people).
Petritxol Cafe: You can’t go to Spain and not try freshly made churros. Unlike in the U.S. where we overly coat our churros in cinnamon and sugar, the sweetness from Spain’s churros comes from light sprinkles of sugar and sides of melted chocolate and whipped cream. The melted chocolate sauce was thick and creamy, mimicking a pudding-like texture. Even when dipped in chocolate, the churros did not taste overwhelmingly sweet. They were just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, but not overly sweet to the point where you feel extremely guilty after eating three of them (which is exactly what we did). Located in the Gothic Quarter, Petritxol offered us a comfortable atmosphere where we could devour perfectly-fried, golden-brown churros in peace.
Viana: Similar to Sensi, this restaurant was a bit dark and very small, so definitely reserve a table here for dinner time. I ordered a blackberry mojito, one of their specialty cocktails, as well as spring rolls for an appetizer and the suckling pig for my entree. The spring rolls were delicious and crisp, packing a mouthful of flavor in each bite. As for the suckling pig, the pork was tender and juicy, and the side of potatoes had an interesting, but pleasant sweetness to it. This was easily one of the most delicious meals I had in Barcelona, and would recommend Viana to anyone planning to visit soon.
La Sagrada Familia: Wow, what can I say? La Sagrada Familia was one of the most beautiful, unfinished masterpieces I’d ever seen. Thanks to architect Antoni Gaudi, this church, which he spent over 40 years designing, has been filled with an incredible amount of history. The windows inside were vibrant and colorful, symbolizing Gaudi’s expression of life and the birth of Jesus. Additionally, the height of the temple as well as its three facades symbolize us reaching toward Christ and the three key points of His existence: birth, death / resurrection, and present / future Glory. Because this is such a historic monument in Barcelona, expect extremely long lines upon your visit or book online to walk right in.
Park Güell: Another Gaudi creation, Park Güell holds over 100 years of history within its gates. Keep in mind that you need to pay to see half of the park’s attractions, including the museum and serpent bench; however, most of the park is open for free public access. Unfortunately, we were too late to purchase tickets as they were sold out, so we went on a nice mini hike around the free spots of the park. There were a lot of stairs to climb, along with many gorgeous views of Barcelona to take in. Even though we were unable to see the park in its entirety, we still enjoyed the scenery, street performers, and merchants decorating all corners of the park.
Ciutadella Park: One of the biggest highlights of Ciutadella Park is the beautiful fountain located in the middle of park. It is quiet, peaceful, and welcoming, and a great getaway from the crazy crowds at La Rambla and the Arc d’Triomphe (it is a very close walk to and from the park). Considering that it’s by the zoo, Ciutadella Park is very green and provides visitors with an amazing opportunity to take in all the nature.
La Boqueria Market: This fits under both the “attractions” and “food” categories. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick bite to eat and get a glimpse in to the market culture of Barcelona. The empanadas and jamon y queso snacks are delicious. Merchants prepare the food in front of you, using the freshest ingredients you can possibly get around Barcelona. Along with visiting La Boqueria, the market is located in La Rambla–one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. We did a lot of shopping and adventuring around here during our stay.
While there were so many things I loved about Barcelona, one of the things I can’t forget to talk about is a rather negative aspect of the trip. I am talking about pick-pocketers. We were warned about them before we left, so we used bags that we can keep in front of us and hold on to at all times, but even that won’t stop some quick hands around the streets. If you plan on bringing a purse or fanny pack to hold money or credit cards, be careful and aware of those who walk close to you. Aside from that, overall, Barcelona was a great first stop and introduction of what was yet to come. The tall buildings and architecture around Europe were so similar; yet, so different at the same time (if that makes any sense). Keep in mind, these were just a few of the places we went to during our 3-4 days, so if you are interested in any other restaurant / attraction suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, if you’ve already visited Barcelona and had a few places you’d like to add for readers, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you guys!