With the limited time I had in the city, I had to make a schedule of the places of interest I had in mind. I completely crossed off venturing towards the beach and water front because I had enough of it at Sitges, and I didn't want to get bored of beaches before I reached the Italian coast! I also wanted to limit my visits to all Gaudi attractions, even though I'm a major fan, because visiting all would have been time consuming as well as pricey as the ticket prices are actually quite high. Finally in my list was the need to visit something that is less touristic than most and spend a peaceful day there. So without further ado here are the lovely places I did visit...
La Sagrada FamiliaThis was obviously always in my list. I am fascinated with Antonio Gaudi and his marvelous architectural delights, and the Sagrada Familia is definitely the most famous of his all works till date. Also, everyone who visits the city, has to come back with a few of those ceiling shots, because lets face it, taking inspiration from nature is just brilliant. And of course, I'm a complete sucker for the impeccable symmetry as well.
There is an entry fee of around 15 euro and some more, if you want to check out the towers. A limited number of people are allowed at a time and hence there could be a waiting period from the time you buy your ticket till the time you actually step into the church. I had to wait for around 2 hours till I was allowed entry.
Mercat de la BoqueriaOne visit to la Boqueria turned into 2 more short visits, later. I made sure I had a few meals and picked up a few snacks while on the go. The market has plenty to see, and of course to eat. From cold section corners and a fish market to fresh fruit and juices to mini resto-bars with high chairs where you can eat right there, while breathing in the aromas of delectable concoctions from all around, the market is really a must-see. It's also the prefect place to grab a quick lunch while exploring La Ramblas.
Placa EspanyaThe plaza provides a splendid walk and climb and then also a view of the city. It's basically the central point of the city and is very well connected to most of the other sections. The fountains are lovely (when they're operating that is!) and it's just a very pretty sight to look at.
To get a view of the city, you have two options, climb towards the end, past the steps and the gardens or to visit the mall ,which is actually an old bull fighting arena, and climb up to the top for the same.
Las RamblasLas Ramblas is definitely the most touristic place to be at. It's always crowded with loads of people, locals and tourists. Flanked with shop and stores at both ends, it's a very entertaining walk. I found myself walking through the street multiple times during the day, since the street is very well connected. Of course I was drawn towards the by-lanes a lot more than the actual street.
Beware and be careful of your surroundings as well as people around you. It's known to be a shady place for unsuspecting tourists. The restaurants there are a little over priced compared to the ones on the by lanes, but that didn't stop me from trying either.
Parc GuellAnother Gaudi wonder. I planned to spend almost the entire day here, and I'm glad I did so. Parc Guell has sections that are free and open to the public, and then the most photographed section in every fashion blogger's instagram feed, which is of course the paid entry section. I had to wait almost 3 hours to get to that section, and found entertainment in the form of my current book and some lovely live music. Once I did get in, it was pretty crowded, because I was there during peak season. But the view was lovely again and I did manage to get my pictures.
Parco del Labirinto di HortaThis was the hidden treasure I found, which is a much lesser known place to visit. Parco del Labirinto di Horta is just a fantastic garden which is huge. It was a welcome change after Guell which was milling with people, while this park, had practically 5-6 others than myself! The park has a couple of mazes, a waterfall and various flower beds and some pretty cool sculptures and structures.
I took a book and a few sandwiches and spent the entire afternoon there. I also happened to go on a Wednesday, which was a free entry day. But of course, with an entry fee of less than 3 euros otherwise, and a lot to see and enjoy, I would absolutely recommend this brilliant park.
Camp NouThe most exhilarating time I ever had was at Camp Nou. As a crazy FCB fanatic, I had my fingers crossed at all times, and hoped to bump into any footballer. ANY! But of course, that didn't happen. But I had a great time touring the entire property (that's accessible to visitors) and taking part in the Camp Nou Experience.
Mercat dels EncantsFor the first night in Barcelona, I stayed with a Mexican chef who told me to check out Mercat del Encants and explained about the "crap" they sell and how I might be interested in it. And he was right. It's basically Chor Bazaar from what I could tell with a lot of second hand items that ranged from record players and antique furniture to clothing and other collectibles. I also managed to get a 3 euro dress from here!
Barri GoticThe Gothic quarters is the perfect place to wander around. I'm quite a fan of Gothic architecture, and my favourite structure is the Duomo in Milan. So I was looking forward to the Gothic quarters after hearing a lot from various friends. I spent an entire evening here, watched street performers, drank a bottle of wine at the steps of a church and a few other things. There are libraries and small museums around the place and you'll always find something or the other to do. I also managed to find a little store where they dressed me up as a Flamenco dancer for a picture! Apart from that, I was really drawn to the vintage stores and the Gothic market with trinkets and precious items from the past.
Apart from these, I walked past and viewed Casa Batllo and La Pedrera from the outside along with a fellow tourist. I also visited Plaza Tripi which is really not the square's actual name and it won't be found on any maps, but apparently everyone knows where it is. It's filled with great spots to enjoy the Catalan night life. Apart from Tripi, there's Reial that has some decent bars as well.
I would also suggest checking events happening in the city before booking your dates. While I did get to witness Corpus Christi and the dancing eggs on the various fountains, I missed Desigual's colour run (aka Desigual sponsoring what we Indian's call Holi) and the most important thing, the UCL finals between Barcelona and Juventus! I literally left on the day of the match. It would have been the experience of a lifetime to watch my favourite club play with supporters all around. Not to mention the victory parade a couple of days later. It's all just too painful... Sigh.