Barcelona Day 1

After arriving at Barcelona Sants station, we bought a 10-pack of metro tickets (€9.95, can be shared across multiple people) and took a short and easy metro ride to our AirBnB and dropped off our bags quickly with our hosts in the Gothic Quarter. The interaction was especially quick since their previous guests were still present, but we were just happy to be able to drop off most of our luggage.

Metro ticket machines at the Barcelona Sants station

 After dropping off our luggage, we took the metro to Catalunya station and started a walking tour from our Rick Steves book that led us down Las Rambles. This entire walk was very crowded and contained many unappealing vendors, so we did not enjoy it was much as we had hoped.

Plaza Catalunya
Walking down Las Rambles

Early in the walk we stopped and got a meal to share from Pans & Company, which felt like McDonalds for deli sandwiches. JT grabbed a €1.45 cafe con leche from the coffee and pastry bar on the way out.

Ordering at Pans & Company
Our combo meal from Pans & Company

Then we walked a bit further and wandered in Mercado de La Boqueria. All of the prepared food in the market was overpriced – some more than others – but Katie could not resist getting a small cup of pineapple for €1.

Outside Mercado de La Boqueria
Fruit stand in Mercado de La Boqueria
Fresh egg stand in Mercado de La Boqueria
Meat stand in Mercado de La Boqueria
Fish stand in Mercado de La Boqueria

We followed a Rick Steves suggestion for lunch and stopped at Irati Taverna Basca (Cardenal Casanas 17). Irati was an interesting sandwich/tapas bar – you received a plate and then you selected items from the bar. At the end you paid based on how many items you ate, documented by the number of toothpicks on your plate. (We had 5). We found the €1.95 items to be great and the drinks cheap (€2 for cidra)!

Food options at Irati Taverna Basca
Crowds – mostly Spanish – at Irati Taverna Basca

After lunch we headed for our 2:30pm reservation to enter Sagrada Familia. Apparently reservations are critical as the lines to enter without reservations are often 2-3 hours long! We read the self-guided material from the Rick Steves guide book and explored the very interesting and unique church. We had tickets to visit the Nativity Tower at 3:30pm, and certainly enjoyed the views of both the church and the city from both the bridge between towers as well as from the towers on the long sets of stairs down.

Outside the entrance gates to Sagrada Familia
This artwork hangs above the alter in Sagrada Familia
Light flowed through the stained glass windows during our afternoon visit to Sagrada Familia
Looking towards the alter in Sagrada Familia
Views from near the top of the elevator on the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia
On the bridge between two towers on the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia
JT on the bridge on the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia
Great city views from the bridge on the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia
Lockers for backpacks and other large belongings while visiting the towers in Sagrada Familia

We left Sagrada Familia shortly before it closed at 6pm. We took the metro to one of the stops on Rick Steves’ A Short Sweet Walk. But the line was incredibly long, so we went to another selection from the walk (Casa Colomina) where we ordered a small block of torron as well as a pastry – both were excellent and not too expensive. We highly recommend swinging by one of the many bakeries in Barcelona if you want a sweet snack.

After our sweet snack, we walked to our AirBnB and checked in. Our hosts were very welcoming and friendly, giving us a tour of the apartment and providing restaurant recommendations.

We headed towards their paella recommendation near Barceloneta (7 Portes), but then we changed our mind and decided to go eat ceviche at Bar Bitácora. This was seriously some of the best ceviche we’ve had (just €7.5, best of the trip), and the patatas bravas (€3.9) were wonderful as well. The drinks were pretty cheap too (€1.8 for a cana beer). Next time, we would pass on the calamari (€6.5) though as it was a bit chewier than we expected. We were very happy with our dinner find!

Patatas bravas and some of the best ceviche ever at Bar Bitácora
Our three-dish feast at Bar Bitácora

After dinner we headed back to the apartment, settled in, and then chatted with our hosts for a bit. We were happy to learn they were from Brazil, so we discussed our travels in Brazil as well as their upcoming trip to Italy and France. We told them we planned on going skiing the next day, and they strongly recommended against it since there had been no natural snow recently. This left us deciding what to do the next day. After researching for a while, we choose Montserrat and finally got to sleep after 2am.

Full-day FitBit stats:
Steps: 22,582
Miles: 10.36
Flights of stairs: 24
Calories: 4,139

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