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Where We Are: Spain/Catalonia

Spain | Well, folks, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’ve just landed in our last country on our 15-month journey around the world. I’m not sure how that’s possible, because we just left yesterday. It’s so weird that we keep finding ourselves doing things for the last time. Our last budget update. Learning to say “Thank you” in our last new language. Flying our last economy flight. It’s just so sad!

[Regains composure.]

The truth is that as much as we’re not ready for this journey to end, we know that big and beautiful things are on the horizon. We’re excited to see our friends and family again.We’re excited to pour more time into our careers and our blogs. And we’re also excited to travel in new and different ways.


Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Even though this is the end of this long-term trip, it does not mean it’s the end of us traveling and it’s certainly not the end of this blog! We look forward to traveling as vacationers instead of backpackers, and we also look forward to traveling with our future family. We actually can’t wait to raise the next generation of tiny backpackers! And who knows, we’ve also considered trying out the whole expat thing and living in London for a year or two. There’s so much life left to live.

But back to Spain!

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It’s impressive both for it’s beauty and for the fact that it’s been under construction since 1882.

We are in Barcelona for my friend’s wedding. This is one of the two weddings that convinced us to tack on an extra three months to our original itinerary, so thank you for that Paulina and Alejandro! A bunch of my friends are in town for the wedding, making it a super fun way to close out our trip!

We’ve spent two days here: one was fabulous and one was kind of a bummer. Even though our feelings about Barcelona are mixed, we can definitely agree that having friends here with us has more than made up for any shortcomings we may see in the city itself.

Friends in Barcelona

For real though, how lucky am I to have such fabulous friends?!

Our plans in Spain are pretty straight forward. We’ll spend two days in Barcelona before heading to the actual wedding festivities in Tarragona, a smaller town about 90 minutes south. After that, it’s off to Madrid for a single full day before we fly out of Europe for good (or at least for now).

Please excuse me while I try to squeeze every last possible memory and moment out of the last week of our trip.

Barcelona Waterfront

Barcelona is pretty easy on the eyes.

First Impressions on Spain

  • It is so crowded. I get that we’re on the tail end of high season in Europe (trust me, I get that — I’ve spent nearly all summer in Europe), but Barcelona somehow feels even more crowded than even Paris or Santorini or London. It reminds me a lot of Prague, where I also struggled with the crowds. It’s not that I don’t like crowds — I actually love a city that is bustling — but it’s more of a slow, wandering kind of crowded not a rushing around kind of crowded.
  • The architecture truly is in a league of its own.  I am no architecture expert, but I can tell you that there are very few cities where I’m so often distracted by what’s on the outside of buildings and not just what’s inside them. Everywhere you turn, there is a beautiful building to look at, whether it’s a Gaudi-designed residence or a gothic cathedral or just a regular intersection. Fun fact: a city ordinance requires corner buildings be built with a 45° angle (think snipping the corner off of a sheet of paper) which creates very open, spacious and beautiful plazas at every major intersection!

    Casa Milà is a famous and beautiful building designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. Even this building constructed in the early 1900’s has that cut-corner design to promote openness in the city.

  • You have to book everything in advance. I can’t even tell you about some of the city’s most popular attractions (La Sagrada Família and Park Güell) because we couldn’t even get tickets. I can’t blame the city for my poor planning, but I generally don’t love a city that requires everything to be booked in advance. (I think that’s the tiny amount of backpacker in me that wants to fly by the seat of my pants.) We tried to visit both of these destinations but were turned away because tickets were sold out. So if you’re planning a trip here, be sure you plan ahead! 
    Park Güell

    We couldn’t get into Park Güell because tickets were sold out, but you can still access some of the park around it for free without a ticket.

What you need to know:

  • Population: Barcelona: 1.6 million / Madrid: 3.1 million
  • Altitude: Barcelona: 12 meters / Madrid: 667 meters
  • Exchange Rate: 0.85 Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Spanish and English
  • Walking Tour: Yes, but we are not taking any.
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time, GMT +2 (7 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Bus, Train
  • Emergency Number: 112
  • Running: There are lots of great running routes in Barcelona and we’re hoping to get at least one run in. There is a great 3-mile path along the waterfront which looks amazing. I’d also tack on a few laps around the Ciutadella Park (about 1 mile around). Check this article for some other great running routes in Barcelona.
  • American Football: Yes, but the wedding we’re here for is on Sunday, so we won’t be going to any bars to watch the games. No more football games in Europe for us!
  • Starbucks: Yes, many.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: None.
  • Coffee Price:  A grande Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is about 4 Euro (~ $5 USD).
  • Beer Price: Beer is refreshingly cheap after being in Copenhagen! You can get a bottle of local beer for about 4 Euro (~ $5 USD). Cocktails have more of a range, but we got mojitos for only 4 Euro and spent as much as 10 Euro (~ $12 USD) on more designer cocktails at a trendier spot.
Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona marks the entrance to Parc de la Ciutadella and was built as the entrance to the 1888 World’s Fair.

The Journey Continues