Reminiscing over the first trip to Barcelona. Where we stayed, the food and of course those iconic spots.
OH BARCELONA, I MISS YOU
My first trip to Barcelona was something I had put off for a long time. I’d gotten interested in Spain at a young age, given we had started learning Spanish in primary school. I quickly grew a fascination with Spanish traditions and culture, that I’d never forgotten. So, why put it off? I’d wanted to have the right person to travel to Spain with. Though I had a lot of fun traveling with my friends over the years, they were never who I imagined exploring Spain with. Or Portugal or Morocco or Turkey for that matter. I just always felt like I’d want to explore those places with my partner, so I waited until the right one was in my life. Plus, I didn’t really want to explore via busy backpacker hostels which is how I traveled in my late teens and twenties.
We flew from Bologna to Barcelona, a short early morning flight, landing on my birthday! It honestly felt like the best present I could have imagined to land in Barcelona after dreaming of it all those years. Then we proceeded to grab a taxi before checking into a hotel that was also a well-known bakery. Yep. I planned that pretty well! Cake, was obviously a given.
I can’t even remember where exactly I came across the Praktik Bakery Hotel. I assume on someone’s blog, though who this was, I have no idea. After looking into it, I booked right away and at the same time booked one of Praktik Hotel’s sister hotels in Madrid. I knew I wanted to stay at both locations, so this apart from our week-long accommodation in Paris was the first things we booked for this trip.
Later I saw a friend checking into the Praktik Bakery Hotel a couple of months before we got there and they loved it which I took as a good sign. Some things just feel right!
PRAKTIK BAKERY HOTEL BARCELONA
COME FOR THE BAKED GOODS
When I heard that I could stay in a hotel that actually had a bakery, I was SO keen! It did not at all disappoint. Though I am not strictly able to eat a lot of gluten, I can tolerate a small amount and regardless have a love for baked goods. All in moderation!
When we arrived, the room was not ready, (we were early, having taken an early flight!) so the receptionists stored our luggage while we tucked into lunch. The cafe part is on the ground level, so the general public can come in and also shop from the bakery (which is always busy!). We shared some pastries, had a green juice and coffee. Plus that slice of birthday cake!
STAY FOR THE HOTEL
The decor is fresh, modern and bold. Located just down the road from Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera), it is a good spot to be based. Within a short walk you can get to other significant spots like Batlló House,
The Rambla, whose centre is a broad pedestrian area dotted with trees and benches to relax on, comes out onto the Plaza Catalunya.
Checking into our room, we had a bright, clean and ultra modern space. With dark blue tiling in the bathroom area, a spot to hang clothes and separate toilet and shower facilities. The rooms are small but beautifully finished. Personally, I don’t tend to need a lot of space, since we spend a lot of time out exploring but I, of course, appreciate a nicely designed room.
SUPER SWEET STAFF
There is a common room on one of the other hotel levels offering lounge and reading chairs and spots to read and mingle. The staff were all very friendly and we had no issues with any part of our stay. I would definitely return. In fact, I almost did, as we were asked to come back a few weeks later and be apart of their celebrations for World Bread Day! Sadly though by that date we were already midway through our week in Morocco and couldn’t change the dates around.
Back to the bakery!
The Baluard bakery offers everything from bread and cakes to perfect croissants. Each morning of our stay, we made our way downstairs for breakfast. Why go elsewhere with this on your doorstep?! Breakfast offers some of the best baked treats, pod coffees, fresh orange juice, jams, cold meats and toast. I loved being able to check out the bakers making everything on the way out the door each day. The smell, as the lift door opens, of freshly baked goods is just intoxicating and makes you feel right at home.
MUST SEE / DO IN BARCELONA
JUST AN INTRO
Well, there isn’t much to bowl you over with here. I have no new information other than the painfully obvious and undeniably cool draw cards that are tried and tested. For me, I wanted to explore the city, make sure I got some great food, and enjoy Gaudi’s work. However, I didn’t really mind not seeing everything during our short stay.
So, rather than worry about going into everything, we spent a good amount of time soaking up the park (which I talked about here), wandering around the Gothic Quarter, down La Rambla, and popping into La Boqueria (particularly to see all the colourful market stalls of produce).
For some reason, I had it in my head to get tickets on one of the days for the hop-on-hop-off buses that circle the city. It’s not something I usually do but had remembered doing that on my first trip to London and finding it to be a great way to get my bearings of the city and head to further out of the way stops. I actually really enjoyed it. While we didn’t stop off at heaps of places, I certainly saw a lot more of Barcelona this way. Sitting up on the rooftop we were able to take in a lot more than I’d expected in an afternoon, bookmarking spots to return to.
LET YOUR STOMACH BE YOUR GUIDE
I had a few places to recommend in terms of places to eat- Tapas bars, wine bars and so on, but it’s been a while now since we were there that I’m not going to list them. Actually, I have been grappling with posting this blog post at all given our trip was so long ago but it seemed to be taunting me sitting there in my draft folder. So please forgive the throwback. We were looking at flight deals last week talking about a new trip which prompted me to think about how I’d never shared these photos so here we are.
ASK WHAT IS GOOD!
As with most of our trips, I tend to ask locals where to eat, or which areas to walk around until we find a good spot. Often we stalk other food bloggers pages online first, or ask travelers or for any recommendations over social media. Whatever it takes! Both Mario and I are less likely to spend our money on tourist spots and more likely to plan a good meal.
SHOP (A LITTLE) IF YOU CAN!
Of course, shopping in Barcelona is not bad either. Though it may have been window shopping for me at Chanel, I did pop into at least one of the chain stores that dominate Paseo de Gracia. While I am not a big shopper while I travel, I was glad to pick up a shirt and top from Mango (which we don’t have in Australia, still!), that I still wear all the time.
IT’S OKAY TO BE A TOURIST SOMETIMES
The park just took my breath away. Not just thanks to the heat and walking up all the stairs to get up to them! We ended up visiting the gardens twice, the first time just exploring the free parts. We returned later having booked to get into the paid parts, which are always busy but I am happy we did pay to go in.
I can be pretty frugal when I travel when it comes to things that feel super touristy. Generally, I skip those things in favour of finding something local to do. This time though, it was worth it because I was happily in a Gaudi daze.
So, question is, Barcelona, when shall we meet again? I am not done with you yet!
I’d love to hear what you loved about Barcelona, where you stayed, ate, which sights you went to? Please leave me any recommendations below. Thanks guys!
HELLO PARRY TOP (SIMILAR HERE)
MARC JACOBS SKIRT (SIMILAR HERE)
TOGA PULLA BOOTS
VINTAGE CAP (SIMILAR HERE OR AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVE HERE)
FURLA METROPOLIS BAG
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