Posted by: vlibrizzi | July 21, 2009

Summer Road Trip: Weekend in Barcelona

DSC_0959Well we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to come back to Barcelona. It’s been a cool 85 degrees every day, with a slight breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect!

Actually, I’m writing this blog entry now (you can see me in the photo to the left) while sitting on the roof deck of the apartment we rented for the weekend in the Born neighborhood that overlooks the Santa Maria del Mar church, while C. finishes his book, and we both sip on some chilled Rueda wine. We’re in heaven!

But let me go back a few days to recount our stay in Catalunya in order…


IMG_2778On Friday, we packed up our things in our hotel/hostel in Valencia, said goodbye to the funky music-themed Mozart room, and drove to the beach for the morning.

The beach is clearly Valencia’s claim to fame…long, soft sandy beaches with warm Mediterranean water on one side, and on the other, a host of great paella places (Valencia’s second claim to fame).

We stopped into the oldest of the paella restaurants, La Pepica (see a photo from our seat at the restaurant to the left) for a yummy paella lunch before hitting the road. Inside, the restaurant was your typical Rat Pack type of place…lots of photos of celebrities who visited the restaurant on the walls (from Pele to Hemingway!). But, we decided to sit on their terrace outside that overlooked the ocean, and despite the heat, we had probably the best paella of our lives (although the paella from the woman in the Fontainebleau market is a close second).

IMG_2780And here’s a photo of C. posing with our waiter and the paella before we dug in! 🙂

After lunch, we drove the 3.5 hours from Valencia to Barcelona.

We loved Barcelona so much when we were here four months ago for C.’s Business School Spring Fling, that we promised we’d come back this summer on our trip through Spain. Also, C. hadn’t gotten to visit many of the tourist sites because he was busy playing basketball last time…so we were looking forward to a weekend of sightseeing and relaxation.

We started our trip by having tapas in the trendy Born neighborhood. Our favorite stop was a Basque style tapas restaurant called Sagardi. They served a great variety of tapas (from pimientos to croquetas) and they use the old fashioned toothpick style of payment. (Surprisingly, Sagardi was the only tapas place that we’ve been to in Spain that still uses the “pay by toothpick” method.)

In addition to Sagardi, we loved the wine bar La Vinya del Seynor. Enotecas are hard to come by in Spain (and in France too, for that matter) so we really enjoyed just having a glass or two of wine on their patio with no strings attached. We liked it so much that we actually went back last night too, and plan to make it our final stop tonight after dinner.

So, before we knew it, it was Saturday morning and we were off to be tourists (camera safely in tow…read previous blog if you’re not familiar with our camera debacle). We fueled up with a great tortilla Espanola at a locals-only bar/breakfast place. Honestly, it was only 10:30 in the morning and there were tons of locals sitting around the bar smoking and drinking beers. They party until the sun comes up and then have beers for breakfast. The party never stops here in Barcelona.

DSC_0924Our first sightseeing stop was the famous Gaudi unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. I blogged about this cathedral when I visited it a few months ago, so I won’t go into too much detail, but it was really nice to be able to go back when it wasn’t pouring rain outside. Because it wasn’t raining, we could more easily see the exterior, and we were able to take an elevator to the top of one of the towers to see the construction work close up. Also, it was great to be able to see the cathedral through C.’s eyes.  He loved it just as much as I do…and now we’re trying to think of ways to get invited to the opening of the cathedral thirty years from now J Of course, C. took a ton of photos of the place…I’ve included the best ones below.




A view of one of the stained glass windows during our walk down from one of the towers.









DSC_0932Me standing on one of the lookout areas from the tower, with a view of Barcelona in the background.






DSC_0913Chris inside the cathedral. Notice the beautiful columns in the background. They look so much like trees! You seriously feel as if you are in a forest…a forest with lots of construction workers and scaffolding, but a forest, no less. 🙂








DSC_0904A photo of some of the stained glass windows inside the cathedral.






DSC_0955And, a view of the Passion facade of the cathedral. When it is finished, the cathedral will have three facades (Passion, Nativity, and Glory).






DSC_0956After visiting the cathedral, we stopped to have lunch at this great terraza called La Bodegueta (photo to the left). We shared fresh anchovies, some salty peppers, pan con tomate, and manchego cheese. Yum!

Then, we headed back to the Born neighborhood to go to the Picasso Museum. Picasso himself planned to house his art in this museum before he died, and actually took part in planning which art would go where. But, sadly he was not able to see the museum before his death as he refused to come back to Spain so long as it was ruled by Franco.

The museum was amazing! Each room was organized based on periods in Picasso’s life. We particularly liked the Blue Period rooms, and the rooms housing many of Picasso’s reflection pieces on Velazquez’s Las Meninas.

Later, we returned to our apartment for a quick siesta and then climbed up to our roof deck to have a drink and to snack on some foie gras that we brought with us from the Dordogne but never got around to eating. We watched the sun set on the church across from us and listened to the church bells ring.

IMG_2789Then, at around 10:30 (dinner is late here), we headed over to Barceloneta to try out another tapas place, El Vaso de Oro, (photo to the left) that C. had heard about. The place was filled with locals, and it took us almost an hour to get a place at the bar so that we could order. But, once we finally got our seats, we ordered spicy tuna fish and anchovies in olive oil while we waited for our main course: solomillo with pimientos de padron. We stayed so late that we closed down the restaurant. But, the waiters didn’t mind. They kept trying to get us to stay by offering to give us (and the remaining customers) shots of this electric yellow liquid…which C. seemed to like, and which skeeved me out.

But, we eventually left and spent the next few hours back at the enoteca having Ribera del Duero wine on the square and toasting to the good life.

This morning, we woke up, left our dirty clothes from the past two weeks at the door (yes, the apartment rental service we rented from does your laundry and folds it for free while you are out for the day!), and headed to the beach.

IMG_2783We wanted to go back to a beach that we visited a few months ago (when it was too cold to actually go to the beach). This particular beach was built for the Barcelona Olympics, so the beaches are long, and the boardwalk is filled with fun and very trendy restaurants. We rented two chairs and an umbrella, and relaxed all afternoon.

Then, we headed back to our apartment, and are sitting here now. Tonight, we plan to have dinner in the Placa Reial (where we stayed a few months ago) and then take a walk on the Ramblas. Perhaps we’ll end our night back at the enoteca…who knows?

Tomorrow, we’re heading back to France.


IMG_2781I know; just when we were starting to get used to the Spanish laid-back, not stuffy lifestyle, we’re leaving.

But, we have one more day trip planned in Spain tomorrow…the town of Cadaques.



  1. Barcelona sounds terrific, and laundry included, what’s not to love.

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