We arrived in Barcelona ready to walk Las Ramblas, (the pedestrian center for shopping, sightseeing and people watching) Barcelona is packed with visitors, shopping opportunities, restaurants and really interesting neighborhoods. On our first morning we took part in a walking tour of the old city. We saw Roman ruins of the old wall that surrounded Barcelona, ancient churches and learned much of the history of Barcelona. We have been warned by many about pickpockets and it is apparent that you must be aware and vigilant with your purse, wallet and cellphone. But this is a spectacular city with so much to do and see.
This week we have had some wonderful experiences. The weather has been fantastic. We have loved walking and dining outside in the cafes along the plazas. Often buskers (street musicians who rely on tips) surround the area with the lovely sound of their music. Barcelona is an extremely walkable city and we have walked nearly everywhere. We visited the beach which turned out to be a crowded, urban beach. A young guy was passed out the sand in front of me for quite a while. I thought he might be a bum, but later his friend came and gave his something to eat and drink. He went into the ocean and didn’t even have a towel. Apparently he and his buddy went to the beach from the last party. They were foreign exchange students from Australia. When we left the beach I gave him my unused towel. The guy was so sweet and grateful.
We also visited La Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished basilica designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. The inside was spectacular with changing colors as the sun moved in the sky. We were relieved that the visitors were limited, which afforded us time in the church so we could appreciate it’s beauty and simplicity. It is definitely a good idea to purchase tickets online to reserve a specific time so you don’t have to wait in line.
We went to Tibadado mountain up a funicular to see the view of Barcelona from the mountain to the sea. At the top of the mountain is a beautiful church, Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We climbed around a bit and had an early dinner at Mirablau, with a view of all of Barcelona.
It’s fun to visit several local markets. I loved seeing all of the unique local fresh produce, fish and meats available. We both enjoy cooking and we love paella so we jumped at the chance to book Marta’s Private Paella Cooking Class which we found on TripAdvisor. After a bit of a difficult time finding her building (we will blame Mapquest and not my husband) Marta warmly greeted us to her home. We met six other people from around the globe who shared our interest in cooking. Marta, a former teacher explained the fundamentals of paella with patience and charm. We learned about the importance of quality ingredients and the order in which they must be cooked. Everyone took part in the preparation of the meats, fish and vegetables. Marta has a large propane powered paella pan on her patio that easily held enough food for a dozen people. Within a few hours we learned all of the elements of paella typical of Catalonia. It was great fun to be part of this diverse group of people who worked together and produced a truly delicious meal! We sat down at the table toasted one another and enjoyed the best paella ever. If you are interested in joining Marta’s class you can contact her at:firstname.lastname@example.org