Barcelona, Spain

Photo: I was casually walking in a quaint neighborhood called Gracia, and saw this AWESOME artwork my most favorite celebrity, Bill Murray. If you don’t know about Bill Murray, read “The Tao of Bill Murray.” I read it when I was in New Zealand

February – March 2018

Cost

  • Plane ticket ~ $1,200
  • Airbnb ~ $383
  • Sightseeing/food/transportation ~ $350
  • Total for 7 days: $1,933

Highlights

  • Picasso Museum
  • Plaza de Catalunya
  • Paella

Transportation Tips

  • Trains and buses use a tap on/tap off card. The card costs 2 euros
  • The red half circle symbol at the subways mean it’s a different train company (called Renfe) that does not use the tap on/tap off card. You have to buy a separate ticket.
  • Subways operate on a manual door — meaning, you have to push a button to open the car doors
The view of Barcelona.

Barcelona was on my bucket list, so I decided to go while tickets were cheap. I had originally purchased my roundtrip flight last November for $690 from SFO to BCN, and then flying out from Madrid to SFO.

I had also originally booked the trip for a month, but as the month of February went by, I realized I could not be gone for a full month, so I booked another ticket back home, which brought the total cost of my ticket to around $1,200.

I booked my original ticket through the Chase portal, and man oh man, they don’t let you change that ticket for anything. I bought the cheapest, non-refundable flight, so to change it would’ve cost a $300 fee on top of the cost of the new flight.

Frankfurt Airport

This was the only photo I took in the Frankfurt Airport. Their vending machines were so inviting and filled with yummy snacks.

My flight to BCN was epic. I had a 6-hour layover in Frankfurt.

When I was getting my luggage checked in Frankfurt, they told me I had traces of a bomb coming from my luggage. Excuse me?! Seriously, Germans don’t ef around.

They opened my bag and told me I had too many liquids. Mind you, everything I had was in tiny bottles and tubes.

I was held at security, with not one, not two, but four TSA police-looking agents swarming around me, and asking me a million questions about where I was going and why I didn’t know about the liquids rule and where was I going and where did I live and what did I do for a living. I eventually just told them I’d check in my bag. Problem solved.

I should’ve left the airport at Frankfurt to go sightseeing, but it looked really cold and yucky outside, so I decided to stay in the airport and pass the time working.

Why can’t I ever find a Chase Sapphire Reserve Lounge when it counts?

The Frankfurt Airport is super confusing and huge. I could not find the Chase Sapphire lounge for the life of me, and eventually just gave up after an airport worker told me it was far from the terminal I was in.

The flight from SFO to Frankfurt was about 10 hours, and the flight to BCN was a short two hours.

Upon landing, it was a short ride from subway to my Airbnb, which was located literally across the street from Arc de tr.

Airbnb in Barcelona

The view from my Airbnb.

My Airbnb was awesome. It was in a 6-story building that was ancient, as many of the buildings in Barcelona are.

View from the second balcony of my Airbnb.

The building had an elevator that opened up directly on my floor. There was one day when the elevator was being serviced, so I had to walk up six flights of stairs in the dark and couldn’t figure out how to open the door with the weird locks.

The view from the balcony of my Airbnb. I snapped this one in the early morning.

In Spain, the locks turn left, instead of right, like it does in the U.S.

Catalunya Independence

My lovely neighborhood in Barcelona.

While walking around the city, I noticed red and yellow striped flags with a blue triangle and star in the middle of it. These are political flags, symbolizing the desire for many who want Catalunya to be independent of Spain.

Boqueria Market, Barcelona
This was near Las Ramblas, a huge shopping area in Barcelona.

The flag is a combination of the Puerto Rican flag and Cuban flag — which were the last two countries once ruled by Spain to gain their independence.

This is a building inside the park that houses the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona.

I learned that Catalan is one of the main languages of Barcelona and is taught as the official language in schools. It’s not a dialect of Spanish either, it’s a Latin-based language that sounds different than Spanish. I had to YouTube that one.

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona

 

Sagrada Familia

Look at the mass of this structure! The outside of Sagrada Familia.

The first day I went to see Sagrada Familia. In case you didn’t know, Barcelona is all about a beloved dude named Antoni Gaudi. His architecture incorporates religion and nature.

The inside of Sagrada Familia. The columns mimic tree trunks and the ceiling, tree canopies.

Even though Gaudi died in the 1930s (he was hit by a tram on his way to church — he was in his 70s), the building is still being renovated, so much of it was covered. Nonetheless, it was definitely worth seeing, and I enjoyed learning about his unique style.

Beautiful stained glass works of art on the sides of the building inside Sagrada Familia.

The part I loved most about the church was the fact that he had positioned the stained glass colors according to the rising and setting of the sun, so the cooler colors were positioned where it was hottest, and warmer colors where it was coolest. The beams holding up the church mimicked a forest, and the ceiling, a canopy.

The door leading to another side of the Familia Sagrada.

Picasso Museum

The courtyard area at the Picasso Museum.

I liked the Picasso Museum a lot more than Sagrada Familia.

I thought Picasso’s “doodles” were so amazing.

I had no idea Picasso was into pottery, in his later years. I also learned he was worth around $500 million at the time of his death.

Walking Tour

We ended the tour in a gorgeous courtyard. Are they called courtyards in Spain??

My walking tour guide was a South African guy who lived in Barcelona for the last 6 years. It was a 2-hour tour that took us around the Gothic neighborhood, and ended in one of the most beautiful squares in Barcelona.

The most delicious paella, ever.

I met a whip-smart 25-year-old gal from Hong Kong named Stephanie, who was in town for the huge mobile conference. We hit it off and ended up eating the most delicious paella I have ever had in my life.

The Barcelona Cathedral
Catalunya National Museum
For 7 euros, I visited the Park Guell (pronounced gwell), another one of Antoni Gaudi’s creations.
Much of the Park Guell was under construction, but still lovely to see.
I thought about Gargamel and the Smurfs.
Casa Vicens, another Gaudi creation. It was the first home he designed.
Interior of Casa Vicens.
Exterior of Casa Vicens.

Snowboarding in La Molina

While I was sitting around Frankfurt Airport, I started Googling the snow mountains around Barcelona, just out of curiosity. I had no idea Spain had so many ski resorts.

There are two mountains close to the city, only a 2.5-hour ride away! They also provide all the gear, a roundtrip to and from the city, food, and lift tickets for 87 euros!

However… I read on TripAdvisor that the mountains get really crowded and the lines are long and overall, the experience was very disorganized. These reviews were written by Americans, so I was hesitant to sign up, but decided when would I ever get another chance to board in Spain?!

By the time I committed to signing up, the buses were all filled up and it was too late. I was bummed, but decided to try the indoor ski slopes in Madrid.

What happened to the “Donuts”? Incredibly, I didn’t go into a single Dunkin’ Coffee.

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