We hit the ground running at the very Spanish hour of 9:15 A.M. and headed for the Sagrada Familia, which is generally recognized as Gaudi’s masterpiece and is still under construction. This amazing structure combines the scale of old European cathedrals with organic and natural forms, and glasswork which were masterpieces in their own right. After 3 hours of wandering in wonderment, while my husband spent most of his time navigating a stroller through crowds and our little one took a well-timed napped she awoke and decided it was time for all of us to move on to something else; preferably food related. From there we went to the la Boqueria Market, the oldest market of its kind in Europe. It was a wonderful mix of Moroccan food souk, West Coast farmers’ market and boutique tapas restaurants. As we entered the madness we joined the locals in purchasing something scrumptious to eat off a stick for us and a fruit smoothie for our little one as we wandered the market. After gathering our goods from the various fruit and vegetable stands, meat and fish areas, and an assortment of pre-made foods vendors we found a small standing table outside a wine bar at the edge of the market to set up our picnic, now complete with a glass of wine.
After our wonderful lunch experience we decided it was best to head back to the hotel for a real afternoon nap, (versus a stroller nap), and that it was possible she might not be the only one in need of a nap as the previous days travel had caught up with us. Refreshed from our nap we found everything was open late enough that we were still able to take in another tourist attraction before having dinner. This is a daily routine that we found works very well for us, traveling with a toddler in need of naps through countries that consider an eight o’clock dinner early. On this particular night we saw Santa Maria del Mar before finding a local tapas bar for dinner. We have decided that tapas are a style of food and eating the suits our tastes very well: small plates to share, so we are able to try many different things at once and often paired with wine. However, in Barcelona, sangria seemed to be the drink of choice and we were willing if not eager to follow suit.
Another perfect day; a huge check off my bucket list seeing the Sagrada Familia, which I could spend days wandering through.
Guidebooks – Since we were traveling light we kept our books to a minimum. For this leg of our trip we used Fodor’s Spain and were very happy with it. We never felt the need for a city specific guide. We have now used it for five trips to Spain and never needed anything more. For European travel in general Fodor’s are my go-to Travel Books.
Basilica of the Sagrada Familia – As an architect, while I have an appreciation for most of the amazing cathedrals in Europe, this one took my breath away. It needs a category of its own as it’s not just another cathedral and probably one of my favorite sites from an architectural point of view. It is also a living, breathing building still under construction. Local artists are still working on the stained glass and each piece represents the artist that created it. This is a must see whether you care about architecture or not. If you’re traveling in Europe you will inevitably go to more old cathedrals than you can count and while they are all impressive in their own right, some might say (not me of course, but some), that they start to blend together; this one will not. It’s like the Grand Canyon, guaranteed to impress regardless of background. — Must See
La Boqueria Market – The oldest market of its kind in Europe (according to our guide book). This is actually one of my favorite Spain experiences; food related or not. I am sure to visit here when I’m in Barcelona as often as possible. — If you like trying different food this is a Must See
Santa Maria del Mar – This was a perfect fit into our schedule as an hour long excursion in the evening. It doesn’t need more time than that but is nice if works out that you can make it there. — If You’re In The Area