Spanish Holiday, anyone?? (contd)


So, I’m back with my Barcelona story. Are you ready?

Barcelona, travel, DIY, Spain,


Oh! and I forgot to mention a very important thing last time…do carry an extra empty bag cause…there’s a lot to take back home.

We flew to Barcelona from Geneva. It was a short (hour an a half) and a bit noisey flight (Españoles have a lot to say, I guess :P) and as the plane was decending down I peeped out of the window and saw the vast spread of city beyond the blue mediterranean. I turned to Hubz  and asked ‘The whole thing is Barcelona?’ and an amused Hubz replies ‘the whole thing’ is Barcelona. Yes. It’s a big city and there is a lot to do so I would rather suggest you to spend somewhere between 5- 8 days, at least to cover all the major landmarks. Any less and you will regret it.

Having landed safely, we moved to pick up the baggage and boy! the airport was a great welcome to Barcelona city. While my husband checked the belt number where our baggage arrived, I checked out the shops. It has many many interesting places to shop which I couldn’t find in the city and made a mental note of coming back to airport early (a good two hours early) on our way back.

Well, once we got our bags, we boarded a bus to Plaça de Catalunya, which is the main city square. During bus ride, from the airport I was amazed by the uniqueness of city’s architecture, the beauty in every lamp post, details on outerwalls, railings, doors and even door knobs and lots of Catalonian flags fluttering on railings and balconies. Our hotel was at a walkable distance from here.

Traveling and sight seeing in European countries is very different from elsewhere, especially to Indians who navigate through autowallas and taxi drivers who will take time to slow down (or in some generous cases) stop, to ask ‘kahan jana hai?’ (Where do you want to go?). Here you carry a map or a smart phone with GPS and explore the city yourself. Also because cities here, happen to be very pedestrian friendly.

And all thanks to google earth you can even see what your destination and surroundings look like, for real.

Bus dropped us at Plaça de Catalunya, and we realized two things- one, it was very warm and second, we were surrounded by shops with names such as Miu Miu, Burberry, Armani and the likes. Also El Cortes Ingles, which happens to be a great shopping destination was right by us. And we knew where we were coming that evening. And that is also when I completely missed looking at Casa Batlló. Keep reading, to know what it actually was.

Having entered Sixty Two (it being the name of our hotel. Interesting. Isn’t it?) we were greeted by a pig!! Really. There was a stuffed boar with a platter of deliciously rich red apples. The lobby was very artistically set and the staff was very warm, we were then shown our room where pretty much everything (including shades/windows) worked with a remote control. It had a breezy deck with a small dining table, overlooking Passieg de Gracia. Passieg (meaning avenue or promenade in Catalan) de Gracia is the main thoroughfare of the city . It was just perfect by all means location- (right opposite Casa Batlló), style and service.

Refreshed and refueled by Tapas and coffee, we ventured out and that is when I had my first encounter with Gaudi. I saw a bunch of people gathered outside a building blinding someone with flashes. Well, sense came to me and I looked up …well they were photographing a building called Casa Batlló  re-designed by Antoni Gaudi and Juyol. It is said to be, and it was, a modernist  building commonly known as ‘House of Bones’ because of its skeletal, organic quality. It’s façade is decorated unsparingly with mosaic tiles and so is the top. Wikipedia says that the goal of designer while designing this building was to completely avoid straight lines and so it was. It is orange-yellow-bluish-green in colour which makes it stand out.  It was a remarkable, uncommon therefore unmissable structure. And I felt like I totally missed looking at the bride in a wedding, when I saw it later. 😛

The man, Gaudi, was a genius and his work speaks for him. See for yourself.

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I later on found many picture frames(I got one too!), plaster of paris keepsakes imitating this building which constantly reminded me that there may be other important structures around than Burberry, Miu Miu, Prada. Old habits, die hard! I have a feeling, you will agree.

Moving on, we strolled further on Passeig de Gracia. It was pleasently breezy and the whole atmosphere was just great with lot of out dining, commonly seen all over Europe. Oh, I just love that. We had ‘divine’ food at a restaurant called Divinus which we visited and revisited again. Will tell you about food later in a separate section. I especially loved the decor of the place and here are some pictures to back me up on this…

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Loved the decor at Divinus.

Couldn’t help photo-eves-dropping!

Spain, Barcelona, travel, Divinus, food in barcelona, restaurant in barcelona, DIY, Photography

I captured a lovely angel above me and …

Divinus, Barcelona, Spain. Travel, Restaurant decor, food in barcelona,, Travel, best eating place

Angel at Divinus

this…Divinus, Barcelona, Spain. Travel, Restaurant decor, food in barcelona,, Travel, best eating place

I believe in confronting with evidence. Watching a football match when your wife sits in front of you. On a holiday! At a restaurant!! Not cool man. Well, he clearly had to pay for more than just food bill! 🙂

Having had great food and great time and we decided to call it a day, catch some sleep and plan the next day.

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This was taken on our way back.

It was my first and beautiful morning in Barcelona. We wanted more of Gaudi, so Park Guell was the next destination. I feel the best way to see Barcelona is to first get a overview of the city. You know, like how in a slide show you first see/show the main contents of the presentation. This is best done by taking a hop on- hop off daily tour bus. They are named as red route/ blue route /green route and each one covers a set of different landmarks. You can buy tickets on the designated spots through volunteers who will also guide you which one to take for the sight seeing of your choice. They are a nice ride equipped with individual audio guides in many languages. I believe this gives a good view and feel of the city in general and is a great help to plan travel in city where there is so much to see. You can take your pick, which place you want to come back to.

We took that tour and I managed to take some pictures, which I absolutely love and make great memories of the city.

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Barcelona: picture perfect romantic!

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We alighted from the bus to walk rest of the way up to Park Guell.

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Guys, you must not miss this! If you have an image associated with the word ‘Park’ then that is about to change. It’s one of the most unconventionally beautiful parks, hands down. And it was designed and resided in, by none other than, Antoni Gaudi. The entry to the park is free and therefore depending on the day (example: weekends) it can be a bit crowded. But its a huge, huge park, so crowd isn’t something to worry about. Spread on a massive area, it requires a lot of walking. And if it happens to be a sunny day then YOU MUST NOT FORGET sunnies, sunblock and sun hat. Ignore it if you fancy a tan.

At the entrance of the building you will find two buildings decorated with mosaic work. I love mosaic art and so it was a total treat for me.

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Also there is a giant lizard waiting for you at the staircase which is also made of glazed ceramic tiles. It was flocked by photography enthusiasts. The side walls of the staircase were also decorated with mosaic tiles. Have a look.

Park guell, gaudi, mosaic art, barcelona, travel photography, travel, spain, DIY

I loved the fact that Gaudi had paid so much attention to details. I personally do that and was happy to find something in common with Gaudi! He took care of the ceilings too. See…

park guell, mosaic art, barcelona, spain, travel, photography, DIY

Don’t miss out looking either ways. We managed to see that main attractions of the park, one of which was a hundered column walkway originally designed with trade on mind. But trading is illegal inside Park Guell. Nevertheless there are many illegal traders, fluent in Panjabi!!(an Indian dialect) and Catalan trading trinkets and mosaic art stuff and spanish fan used by flamenco dancers for much cheaper price than souvenir shops outside. Be careful of them as there is ample police in civil dress looking out for them. You might even be able to witness a filmy style chase sequence, like we did! Anyways, the hundered column walkway is a great place to do some photography. Also the name ‘hundred column’ walkway is a misnomer as there are only eighty. We counted. And double checked.


The serpent bench in Park Guell is another attraction where you get a panoramic view of the city overlooking Sagrada Familia (coming ahead) and Barcelona coast line. The very first picture posted by me, in relation to this story, has been taken from this point. Be click ready here.

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We got thirsty by the time we reached this point and located a place inside the park where they sell some food and drinks. It wasn’t that hard to find considering it is present in sort of a ‘cave’. Moving from serpent’s bench onwards, there were a lot of palm trees with little parrots nests and you can even capture those cute little parrots peeping down at you. And guess what, even these birds nests were designed as a part of the park by Gaudi (Oh! I shouldn’t have disclosed this to you as it is hard to figure out, if you don’t already know). This man doesn’t cease to amaze you anywhere in this city. That is why I now call it Gaudi’s city – Barcelona.

Park guell, artificial nest, barcelona, travel, spain, travel photography, gaudi, mosaicBy now, I think most people get curious about this Gaudi fellow and you have his house, now turned into a museum, to visit. The entry to this museum is paid unlike the Park. Its a very small museum where you can see the sketches by him (he sketched too!) and furniture that he designed and made by his own hands! More things in common 🙂 looked like Gaudi was a DIY person too…just like me. For non museum lovers this can be totally skipped.

gaudi's home, park guell, barcelona, spain. travel, travel photography, DIY

Well, well it took us a little more than half a day, just to see the main attractions of the park. But like I said the park is huge and if you wish to explore it completely then you need a full day, plenty of hydration and some energy bars, for sure.

Mosaic, gaudi, park guell, barcelona, spain, travel, travel pictures, DIY

On the way back we took a quick look at almost all the souvenir shops and more than a quick look at some. Very very interesting souvenirs to take home, lots and lots of mosaic art and crockery. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. In big bold letters. And. If you haven’t seen Park Guell, you are certainly not done with Barcelona.

We dedicated the next day to Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family).

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Having a large king size breakfast is a rule worth following when exploring large European cities. So we followed this rule with religious intensity and stood in the queue for a good one hour and a half before we got to see this architectural marvel from inside.

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

The queue starts winding around it at such a point, that by the time you enter it, you have covered between three quarter to half the perimeter of this building. It opens at 9 am but people line up much earlier to catch the sun bathing Sagrada Familia, with its rays. This forms a great photo opportunity especially for people who travel with the aim of doing photography. We have no claim to fame as  photographers but we got to capture this moment.

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

The entry is paid. Once you enter it, we found another queue (smaller one, to our relief) for the audio guides(which is also paid) and available in many languages. This is optional but I would highly recommend it when viewing this structure. Sagrada Familia’s existence, location, number of spires, the type of sculptures and depiction on its façade..every single nook and corner has a reason and that is explained thoroughly well in their audio guide. And you have to listen to that to appreciate the marvel you are looking at. There are lot gargoyles on the outer walls. Gargoyles are basically ducts to conduct water outside and often fantastical animals like dragons depict them. They feature on most of the medieval buildings like Notre Dame in Paris. When I first saw them I had my own theory that they are used to ward off evil quite like people put a devil’s mask outside houses in India!!

The construction of this began in 1852 and is still under construction (cranes can be seen hovering around its top). Once over, it will be the tallest church building in the world. This too is designed by Gaudi 🙂

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

There are four tall spires in this church and you get to go on top of them via a lift after having stood in the queue first (I know, thats a lot of queues, but its worth it, trust me). You get a wonderful bird’s eye view of the city (and its breathtaking) and get to feel the wind in your hair. You can do this first and then see the church from inside.


Now, this is the tricky part, the way down to the church is by this narrow spiral staircase that really gets your head spinning and there is no railing towards the centre. Its thrilling but exercise caution with yourself and your equipment too. Take a look and decide for yourself also claustrophobics and acrophobics can give it a pass.

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

Its a no no for acrophobics and claustrophobics

Well I realized I hadn’t exhaled all my way down so I did that and then took some water in! But once you are inside its so peaceful and serenity engulfs you. Its a church so one has to maintain the decorum. Though there is no dress code but many religious buildings in Europe expect you to have shoulders and knees covered. So when visiting any such buildings its better to stay on safer side rather than getting disappointed for not being able to gain an entry or attracting offensive glares your way.Although photography is not prohibited, I noticed some people were not too comfortable with people clicking away indiscriminately. I would say its a great place for taking pictures, just go easy on flash. There are larger than life stained glass windows and the light filtering in makes it surreal. Sagrada Familia is worth a visit by day as well as by night.

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain, tarvel

Well I think in terms of tourism Sagrada Familia is to Spain what Taj Mahal is to India. I would confess here, that Sagrada Familia is beyond my capability to describe and I’m falling short of words, pausing now and then. Also I couldn’t take a single shot that says it all about its beauty. You have to see it to believe it. All I can say is…we visited it twice.

Those were just two and a half days well spent, taking in the culture and history of the place. Read further,on what is called as ‘Camp Nou’ experience or FC Barcelona. Also coming up a visit to old town of Barcelona and Montjuïc, Barcelona harbour, shopping and food and what I got back from Barcelona.

Having conquered the Sagrada Familia, a crazy football fan and his wife treads towards Camp Nou, home to the Football Club Barcelona. My husband’s enthusiasm and excitement were obviously spilling all over the place . And I made a mistake of asking him why are we seeing it and….

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The entry in this place was paid and according to crazy football fan’s reluctant wife there shouldn’t be a charge to see an empty stadium. Not fair. Hubz replies ‘wait till you get inside’. So we walk inside over a long bridge and while my husband is about to dance a jig, I walk with heavy steps after Sagrada Familia and not being a football lover of any sorts.

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We started our Camp Nou tour with what seemed to me a dimly lit museum. Wherein lies their archival football, jerseys, flags, spikes (the football shoes) and the gadzillion trophies of the club. It was holding the evolutionary history of the club in elaborate collection of photographs as well preserved as any religious scriptures are. I was already beginning to realize what football meant to some people. Hubz included.

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

Moving on, just about at end of the ‘musuem’ I noticed a lot of headphones hanging down from ceiling like oxygen masks in an emergency in plane. I turned to my husband with furrows in brow. ‘Go on, try it’ said he. I did. And I closed my eyes and heard the roar of a packed stadium for the first time! It was crazy and ….I was beginning to enjoy it. And my husband ? He was happy as a kid!

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

Also there were a lot of audio-visual displays everywhere, old historic matches running on screens. Also there was this interesting ‘sea of screens’…

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

Why is it called an experience?? Because you get to see the changing rooms of the players, press room (where you can take a photo in the captain’s seat!), players’ tunnel. I must admit, an experience it is.

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

We then went to see the stadium , it was massive and like a maze to me. It can hold about 100,000 football fanatics! You also get to get a picture clicked holding the European Cup by the club’s professional photographer – which we did and was a fun moment. We have that memory carefully preserved in our living room.

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

You must not miss their ‘Botiga’ or shop especially if you have more football fans as your nephews, like I do. It has it all, lot of jerseys of massively famous Messi (even I knew about him!) ,Puyol , Xavi, Iniesta and lot of other things. You can also get your official FCB jersey printed with your name on it, but its an expensive affair.

With that we striked off four major landmarks from our list and slept like a log, two logs actually. The new morning greeted even more beautifully as it had rained in the night and our deck was dewy fresh! We were going to see Picasso’s museum and the old town and I was pretty excited about it.

Football club barcelona, travel, spain, barcelona, travel photography, DIY

We were in Gothic quarters early into the morning, it was cloudy and it was magical. It was as though you had been transported back in time! It was a medieval area and mainly pedestrian. There were again some fantastic shops some of them 250 years old!!! Can you believe that?? They were in no way a part of this world.

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The wind swept narrow sleepy streets, archways over the streets and old wrought iron lamp posts brought me back ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. It was my day and it was a delightful experience.

 Travel, Barcelona, Spain, Old town barcelona, Picasso museum

Seeing the..

OLD TOWN BARCELONA, barcelona, spain, travel, photography

We were once again standing in the queue for entry to the Picasso Museum, which, by the way, is paid. Also the photography is prohibited, so we clicked to our hearts content before that. The old town in general is a favourite of the shutter bugs, the old stone walls make a fantastic backdrop. We got this amazing capture in the old town which sort of, speaks for itself and tells a story.

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Well our ‘unguided’ walking tour to the Gothic Quarters was my favourite part of the trip…

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The museum is a must watch for all art aficionados. It’s Pablo Picasso after all. It was just fabulous, spread in five medieval palaces, housing the widest collection of Picasso’s paintings. The museum has locker rooms which came in real handy to keep our cameras safely and walk around without having to carry a bag. We got to see Picasso’s life through his work. We got to see Margot for real!! (And bought a copy from its ‘botiga’). For all the museum enthusiasts, there is a combined pass for many/all museums available which lets you do the museum tours at a discounted rate. You can get it any museum, the first one you visit rather than discovering this on your last museum visit. Leaving the museum, we explored some more of the old town which was soaked in rain by then to the tune played by a local artist on his accordion. Could there be anything more romantic?? Yes, a cup of coffee. 🙂 Here you go…

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I would also like to tell you that there are private tours offered to the Barri Gòtic or the Gothic Quarters as you may not find your way through the back streets of this quaint old town. We got lost too!  I don’t know if I sound crazy saying that but getting lost in a place like that has its own charm. Well…

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Also there are guided ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ tours that take you to the places where the novel is set and lets you imagine the whole story unfolding right before you. Also located in the old town is the Barcelona Cathedral (its a gothic style cathedral with a variety of gargoyles featuring on its outer walls), to which we paid our homage from outside. The looooong queue deterred us, we had our share of queues for the day.  We took seat outside the cathedral, where there are many smaller squares and lots of local artists to entertain you.

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We made a move after a bit of rest to the old port of Barcelona or one end of Las Ramblas. Easily identifiable by a statue of Christopher Columbus on a tall tower pointing proudly towards his legendary discovery –  the Americas. That marks the beginning of his journey that led to probably, the most famous accidental discovery.

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The old port of Barcelona is a nice place if you want to spend a relaxed evening with a hot waffle and a cool view of the harbour! Later into the evening the sky was empty of clouds, stomach empty of food – it was time to get some food and sleep and wake up to a new day for a new place, in the same order.

We went to a very beautiful and quieter  part of the city, on the final day of our trip, its called Montjuïc. The word means a ‘jewish mountain’ on top of which sits a castle, now converted to a military museum. Does it ring a bell? It could be because of the olympic stadium where 1992 Summer Olympics were held. You can visit the stadium. We skipped. Things to do on this mountain? You could see Joan Miro’s museum (which I wouldn’t re-visit as I couldn’t understand the head and tail of his paintings…which may be a good thing as you can hang them either ways! No offence Mr. Miro). You can take a cable car ride to top of mountain, where there is a castle and an impossibly beautiful view of Barcelona city. DON’T miss out this view . You can take some great panoramic shots here. You can also see the ‘Magic Fountain’ which we saw ‘off duty’ as it works only on weekends.

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And….our last stop, the most important one – Las Ramblas. Don’t you even like the sound of it?? Las Ramblas!! Well its so important and so worth a visit that I read about it as ‘a kilometer stretch of all that is Barcelona’. Wow! Its the biggest and most popular exclusively pedestrian street between the main city square Plaça Catalunya and old port where we met Christopher Columbus. What’s there in Las Ramblas? Its very hard to sum it up for the variety of things, people and artists I saw there. Does it suffice to say that Las Ramblas was upto its neck with talented artists?? There were painters, acrobats, contortionists, musicians, caricature artists, puppeteers, wood crafts, a big section of caged birds and small animals on sale, small leather goods. Trinkets, scarves, bags…that list just won’t end. There is also a special small market in some twenty odd kiosks which is a must see, they are all handmade crafts, totally out of the box. But this special market opens on weekdays only. Also the famous St.Josep de La Bouqueria, a market for food lovers and food bloggers. There is what is called as riot of colour in that marker and more variety of food than one can taste or even remember seeing. And also, at Las Ramblas, be very careful with you bags and camera equipment. A little extra caution goes a long way, when traveling. There are also brand stores on either side of Las Ramblas, if shopping in flea markets is not your forte. We bought many things there…paintings by local artists, a small leather pouch I carry to my French class 🙂 some personalized (they engrave your name with calligraphy of your choice) wood crafts and yes, trinkets for sure. We walked all the way back to our hotel, it was a full moon night. 🙂

And now, Let’s talk shopping!! I don’t know where to start and how to, frankly, make it concise. I think El Cortes Ingles is a good place to start. Its a huge mall, spread over many floors. It has the most amazing and trendiest collection of clothes, both men and women. And yeah children too. I mean, the sections are so big, you could spend your day if you are on an all exclusive shopping trip. What did I buy? A gorgeous woolen dress (and a lot more) that fits like a glove and a even more gorgeous electric blue bag by Gloria Ortiz. I just can’t wait to show it off!! From the little souvenir shops around Park Guell we got some beautiful mosaic art mugs and salt pepper dispensers and clocks! They have just brightened our kitchen, up a few notches. So don’t miss those. Also a little mosaic keepsake…how could I have said no to this…

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In the old town do visit this fairytale-ish store of Papier Maché craft…I love it…for its sheer simplicity and rustic quality of the art. The shop is called Arlequi . You also see a lot of Venetian Masks in the shop. I left it to buy from Venice itself. Nevertheless, they were very tempting.

shopping in barcelona, barcelona, spain, DIY, mosaic art

Another must visit shop is Cerería Subirà. Its the oldest candle shop in Barcelona and may be ‘the’ oldest store. It has a wide wide collection of candles of so many interesting shapes/styles/fragrances. We got some candles and they smell relaxing and rosey. Also the blue candle stand in form of lamp post in the picture above this picture, 🙂 is from the same shop. It reminds us of the lamp shades we saw in the old town. We loved the candles so much that we keep re-stocking them all thanks to a generous friend from Barcelona. Big thank you, if you are reading about your beautiful city. Also check out the leather pouch I got from Las Ramblas in Instagram account…it’s caption reads ‘A happy place’.

Food in Barcelona. It can be a bit tricky being a vegetarian(egg eating vegetarian, to be more precise) especially in Europe. But we enjoyed the food there to an extent, that we do make a dish at home, which we first had in Barcelona. Its called Pimiento de Padron. It’s supposedly a must have dish. And I corroborate with that now. It is fried chillies seasoned in olive oil and salt. That simple. And simply delicious. It is said to be a very unpredictable dish (hence very interesting) as you never know which chilly is going to be hot and which one -not. Do try it.

Also must try the so called national dish of spain (according to all non spaniards) Paella. Its a rice dish, served with meat or vegetable or sea food. A thicker variety of rice is used and also saffron which makes it look yellow. Delicious and filling. Must try when in Spain. Also start your day, with the rich and oh so famous! Spanish Omelette or tortilla, its an omelette with potato filling. I absolutely loved it. And had it with all my meals 🙂 Its good for breakfast. Lunch and Dinner.

Tapas, you will find them all over Spain. They are small snacks or short eats. They can be both hot and cold dishes. Most restaurants have a pretty long list of them and you do find some vegetarian options too. They are meant to be eaten over a conversation where the concentration shouldn’t be on food. Try them.

Ending my journey on a sweet note, try the Spanish sister of creme brulee, known as Crema Catalana and you will remember Spain for a long long time.

With that,  the Pastlife Seamstress said to Barcelona….

Barcelona, spain, travel, photography, shopping, DIY

So have I been successful in convincing you to see Barcelona??

These were my accounts of one of my initial and most special travels. These accounts are not exhaustive of travel in Barcelona, there are lot more landmarks that we skipped (may be to come back later) some of them important like Tibidabo. But this was our tailor made sight seeing, which we weaved together. Hope you enjoyed traveling to or refreshing  Barcelona with me.

Do let me know what you think about this. Till then let me fish out some more travel stories and pictures for you.

Take Care.




  1. wanna go there…..:):)

  2. very nicely written with beautiful pics..i want to visit barcelona after reading ur post.

  3. Nikita, congratulations, so beautiful pictures of my born city Barcelona!! yesterday I booked my next trip there to visit my family, I am going again in April and cannot wait because I love my city!!

    Hope to see you soon again, Pilar

  4. great read… Barcelona tops the list now.:).. lookin’ forward for more ….:))

  5. Dat made me refresh all the beautiful memories of the breath-taking city!! So beautifully written!! Thanks.. N you know what, if you were there in Barcelona on the day Real Madrid had a match against Barcelona, then both of us missed the opportunity of seeing each-other..:(