On our recent post-New Year’s trip to Barcelona, my husband and two teens spent five days roaming around the beautiful city and nearby historic sites. When I’ve traveled to European cities in the past, there are always too many details to share and expect a person to read in a single post. For today, I’ll walk you through the first of three days we spent in the city and two we spent just beyond city the borders.
Tuesday – Arrival Day in the Gothic Quarter
We arrived to Hotel Neri in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter around 1:30pm local time, completely exhausted from not sleeping on the 9-hour flight. Although the soft, luxurious beds beckoned us to take a quick nap, we persevered and began what would become a 3-4 hour walk around the city.
After a nice but somewhat Americanized lunch at Les Quinze Nits, we lingered in the Place Reial before reaching Las Ramblas which immediately threw us into a mass of people walking down the pedestrian walkway. We eventually made our way to quieter corners to do a little shopping (which was all our brains and bodies could handle on our first day) at Brandy Melville and Bershka, a clothing store that felt like a slightly more chaotic H&M. It was there where I had my first experience at a self-checkout for clothes and all of the prompts were in Spanish or Catalan! Thank goodness I minored in Spanish at the University.
We continued back to the Gothic Quarter, popping in and out of stores along the way, before passing the historical Cathedral of Barcelona. And as the sun began to set, it seemed that the city became more and more alive, and even magical, as we observed many groups of people swiftly walking to their destinations, guided by twinkling overhead fairy lights everywhere they went.
By the time we arrived back at our hotel, it was completely dark at it was only 6pm! With dinner reservations at 8pm, which is slightly early for Barcelona locals, we opted to rest for an hour or so, before heading back out onto the cobblestone pathway in the Plaza de San Felipe Neri, the little square adjacent to our hotel.
By 8pm, we were happily seated at the nearby Gilda’s Belgian restaurant for a lovely dinner. At the end of our very interesting meal, we had a personal chat with the owner about his encounter with Richard Branson and his obsession with cannabis, which led to the owner including cannabis ice cream on the menu (none for us, however).
The walk back to the hotel was even lovelier than the walk to dinner, as we felt more rested, enough to start feeling very comfortable and mesmerized with our Gothic Quarter neighborhood and all of it’s Medieval beauty. Upon our return to the hotel, we were warmly greeted by the front desk staff and were delighted to find our beds had been turned down, waters were refilled and chocolates were set aside for us to enjoy before bed. A perfect end to Day 1 in Barcelona!