In 2018, we met a down-to-earth couple from Spain during our vacation in the Maldives. We’ve kept in touch often since then & continued to get to know each other through the good ole’ Whatsapp until one day they invited us to visit them in Rota. I mean, what could be more exciting than to visit one of your bucket list destinations!?
Our journey started in Portland, OR with a connecting flight out of San Francisco, CA, and flying directly (11.5hrs) into Barcelona. We took Iberia Airlines, which wasn’t the best experience. The seating was old & hard and a bit cramped for the extra price we paid for extra legroom, but I suppose that’s a part of traveling.
Before we headed to southern Spain to see our friends, we spent three days & four nights in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
Hotel Praktik Essens
Hotel Praktik has several hotels in Barcelona, & we chose the Praktik Essens as it is in the heart of the city with easy access to public transportation & iconic attractions. The staff is friendly, helpful, & always greeting you with a warm hello.
Fun Fact & Lovely Bonus: At the time of check-in, the staff has you choose a fragrance for your toiletries — shampoo, lotion, soap. We decided on the “Sea” fragrance as we both love the ocean, & what gave it even more of a unique touch, the bars of soap weren’t pre-packaged like other hotels we’ve stayed at; it’s freshly cut from a big block on a table next to the front desk. (Doesn’t it look like dessert?)
Our room was not only quiet; it was simple, clean & the bed was extremely comfortable! The walk-in shower was THE BEST, almost impossible to get out after a long day exploring.
The lounge area was great! Inside, there was always coffee, tea, and cold beverages stocked. The ambiance and quietness out on their terrace lounge was the perfect place to relax and get some work done before the end of the day. We couldn’t have picked an ideal accommodation for our first time in Barcelona. We highly recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Here’s a clip of our accommodation on Instagram IGTV
Places to eat
Where to eat? Goodness, Barcelona is full of fantastic food for EVERYONE! So much delicious food and we ate tons, so it was a good thing we walked SO much!
In the first photo where I am standing in the alleyway, the hotel we stayed at was beside El Nacional (directly behind me), which had four bars & four fabulous restaurants in such a lively atmosphere. Of the four, we had dinner at La Paradeta , one night, and La Braseria the other.
At the end of our meal, we couldn’t pass up on the ice cream and gelato bar. Not in Spain! Plus, it’s the first thing you see when you walk in, so the sight of it stays on your mind till after dinner.
In the mornings, for us, we like to find a place that offers a delightful breakfast while enjoying our cup(s) of coffee. Just around the corner from our hotel, we found our go-to spot at the Oassis Natural Cooking Restaurant. Not only did we enjoy their fresh and healthy meals, but we also enjoyed their outside seating as we watched the city move all around us.
As we ventured out into the city to explore, we came across so many potential places to eat at . One day, we came across a cafe called Cappuccino (unfortunately, they don’t have a website to link this to) with a relaxing atmosphere and a wide spread of delicious pastries, sandwiches, and coffee.
The Gothic Quarter, or Barrio Gotico, is at the heart of Barcelona’s old city and has some of the most spectacular historical sights the city has to offer. Just about anywhere you look, you will see Barcelona’s unique, colorful, and distinctive architecture around you. None is more beautiful and visually pleasing than roaming the streets of the Gothic Quarter. A must-see in every sense of the imagination! Its breathtaking architectures, cobble-stone streets, cafes, and photo opportunities around every corner!
The biggest attraction to see while in the Gothic Quarter is the Catedral de Barcelona. A masterpiece and one of the most beautiful cathedrals we have ever seen. We didn’t go inside as the crowd was quite big with a long wait time, but we marveled at its beauty from the outside.
As much walking as we did from our hotel to the Gothic Quarter, we decided to take a 25 minute cab ride to Park Guell, one of Antoni Gaudi’s major works in Barcelona. Park Guell is an expansive park that’s free to the public; however, if you want to capture the gorgeous mosaic tiled backdrop, there is an entrance fee to enter the main area, known as the protected monumental zone. We paid 10 Euros ea ($10.95) and personally, my wife and I could have done without, but as first time visitors, we’re glad that we experienced it.
The park is on a hillside, so wear good walking shoes and be prepared to walk uphill and up plenty of stairs. You’re in for good exercise while enjoying a few hours looking at the captivating architectural designs of Antoni Gaudi.
La Sagrada Familia
Tip: Save & skip the line and purchase tickets.
La Sagrada Familia, in its entirety, is the most beautiful building in all of Barcelona. We can see WHY the pride of Barcelona is a must-see for its architectural marvels! It stands tall and magnificent amongst a beautiful city, and to finally see it in person was beyond breathtaking and jaw-dropping! Even unfinished, we were still in complete awe of the intricate details and statues designed on the walls of this stunning cathedral. Tickets for the church costs about $27, but you can also admire it for the outside like we did.
Wow! Once we got here, we were in the middle of everything! It was so busy & crowded, and we realized then why this place is known as Barcelona’s most famous street. Here in La Ramblas, there are so many restaurants and shops, and you can’t help but notice even more beautiful architecture of the surrounding area.
Once we found our way through the busy crowd, we came across the famous La Boqueria, also known as Mercat St. Josep. The oldest marketplace in the city that has more than 300 stalls offering everything you can imagine for eating and drinking. We walked through the super-crowded market a couple of times in amazement. Everywhere we turned, there was FOOD and MORE food, so for all you food lovers who haven’t been here yet, this is the place to be!
Have you ever traveled to Spain? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comment box below.