We arrived in Barcelona around midnight. A new friend from the wedding, Mo, happened to have come off the same flight as us. His uncle graciously gave us a ride to our AirBnb in the Gothic District.
The flats in Barcelona, you wouldn’t even notice how to get in. The entrance doors are indiscreet and smack in between restaurants. Jose met us at his door. It would be seven thigh-burning flights up. He kindly grabbed our 50-pound suitcase and jogged it up as if it were a feather.
We showered and slept. It would be an early morning to make our 9:30 Sagrada Familia tour.
At 8:15, Jose had a patio breakfast of coffee, pastries, and his homemade tiramisu waiting for us. You could see all of Barcelona from his wraparound patio. It was windy and 57 degrees, so we had our light jackets on.
The tiramisu was so good.
We ran down the seven flights of stairs and walked to the subway. After a transfer, it spit us out at the foot of Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi. Good thing we got there early. The line wasn’t as long as it would be later.
I’ve seen a lot of churches. This has to be my favorite. The design is so organic and nature-y.
We did a self-guided audio tour, which took 30 minutes. It’s way better to have the audio explanations than to aimlessly walk around. They make you appreciate what went into the design.
We had also scheduled a tour of the Nativity tower. There was a 30-minute wait because the elevator had been out that morning.
So you go up, and then you wind down a claustrophobic staircase with little popouts where you can see the detail of the sculptures at the top of the church and you can see the city. I loved it.
After our tour, we met my friend John Gu from high school. He’s been living the life traveling through Europe the last 5 years or so.
We ate lunch. I tried gazpacho. Not my thing. Too cold. John and Sajan ordered fish and — to their surprise — ended up with a plate of many little fried anchovies. I had an overcooked steak. For dessert, we had creme de Catalan. (It looks just like creme brulee, but later our tour guide said to articulate that would be an insult to Catalonians.) The food at this place was not good, but we really did enjoy sitting outside and having good conversation.
After this, we had a 2 p.m. free walking tour to make, and John joined us. Our friend Sherene came with our new friends Merene, Charlene, Jasmin, and Steven. Our tour guide was funny. I was profoundly sleepy. Every time we stood in one place too long, I slept with my eyes open.
Midway through the tour, the guide had us break at a tapas place. My mouth watered. I ate.
After the tour, I needed a nap real bad.
All the friends headed off to the Barceloneta beach. Sajan and I went back to the AirBnB. I napped so hard.
We all met at 7 p.m. for dinner. The group was starving after a long day. We had paella. Not the best paella place. Terrible, in fact. But time with friends was wonderful. John said goodbye and headed off to Zaragoza and then a little town in Portugal.
Dinner No. 2 ensued at Casa Lola. This was delicious and made up for Dinner No. 1. We had appetizers and sweets.
Forgive the gluttony, but Dinner No. 3 ensued. More appetizers and sweets. Sherene had patatas braves three times that night. We compared the flavor across the restaurants.
Favorite foods of the day: cuttlefish, goat cheese montadito, roasted green peppers.
While our friends continued, Sajan and I walked back home. The winding alleyways are straight-up scary at night. Luckily, we didn’t have far to go. I highly recommend planning ahead and being close to a place where taxis are, so you can go straight home at night.
Day one in Barcelona was a great, unforgettable time with friends.