The Barroway were coming to Barcelona for a couple of days, and they asked me to help them organize their sightseeing.
After asking them a bit more about their interests, energy levels and budget, we decided on one walking tour plus one chauffeured tour.
Tuesday was our first day together. I picked them up at their hotel near the Cathedral to start exploring the city center. I love starting this itinerary there, so we can learn about the origins of the city and follow its evolution on time as the architecture that we are seeing on our stroll changes too.
In front of the Cathedral we discussed how the city had been founded by the Romans (the Roman walls and the Aqueduct make the perfect setting for it!), then linked with the beginning of Christianity with a visit to the Cathedral. They didn’t mind paying the little fee that allows tour guides to take their guests inside and explain, so we really enjoyed the little stories about the side chapels, the “mercy chairs” of the choir, the crypt where Saint Eulàlia is buried… And we also saw the geese of the cloister and checked out the tombs of the medieval guilds and guessed their professions. It’s so much fun!
We probably spent around half an hour in the Cathedral, that flew by. Then we exited the building and continued exploring the Gothic Quarter. We briefly walked around the Jewish Section, stopped in front of the City Hall and the Generalitat Palace, learnt a bit more about the Romans at the Temple of Augustus, and in the Plaça del Rei we discussed the Crown of Aragon and the formation of Spain as a unified Kingdom (and why/how it hasn’t always worked that well for the Catalan, so even know many of them would rather be independent).
Our walk took us then to La Rambla, where we visited the Boqueria Market: I never get tired of visiting it over and over again! The food is so spectacular, there. The Barroway loved it so much that asked me if it was possible to stop for a glass of wine in one of the bars, and so we did! Juanito, the owner of Pinotxo Bar is always happy to see me: he’s so sweet! (and a celebrity in Barcelona as well!).
Then, to catch up, we took a taxi to the Block of Disagreement (if we hand’t stopped for wine, we’d have walked up Rambla Catalunya, then move on to Passeig de Gràcia). Here is where we started talking about how the medieval walls were dismantled in 1854, the Eixample district was planned by Ildefons Cerdà and the Modernism movement started flourishing.
The Block of Disagreement is the perfect example of that, with its buildings by the top architects of the time: Domènech i Muntaner, Puig i Cadafalch, and of course, Antoni Gaudi with his Casa Batlló. I showed them some interesting details that people misses without a tour guide, and then we walked 3 blocks more up the street to La Pedrera. This year they are restoring the outside, but the inside hasn’t been affected by the repair works.
The Barroway enjoyed the views from the rooftop, got a deeper insight on what Gaudi did in the city and how his mind worked, and thought that the visit to the apartment with furniture from 100 years ago was lovely, too. After that, we reviewed what we had done today and I helped them finding a place for lunch before I went.
The next day, I joined them again, but this time with one of my favorite drivers: Carles. We started our day driving along the waterfront on our way to the Hill of Montjuic: watching the city views from there is the perfect way to start touring leisurely and grow momentum little by little. We also stopped to check out the Olympic infrastructures from 1992 and the area of the World Fair from 1929 – both with interesting picture opportunities.
Next we drove across the city on our way to Park Guell, another Gaudi work. Since the drive is longer, we had time to keep discussing the city history, Gaudi’s life and his relationship with the Count Eusebi Guell, for whom he designed Park Guell. I had already bought tickets for the park which allowed us to go in right away without wasting any time (tickets sell out on the same day, and you don’t want to wait for one hour before they let you in!). It was a beautiful clear day, the views over the city were also spectacular and the sunlight made stand out the colors of the ceramic tiles that Gaudi used all over the Park.
We strolled around exploring all its hidden corners and top highlights, and then joined our driver Carles again to get to the Sagrada Familia Church – our last top (we saved the best for the end!).
Again, here I had pre-booked tickets to ensure there’ll be availability, and that allowed us to by-pass the superlong lines. This is an amazing church, that doesn’t look like any other place you’ve seen before. The Barroway loved my explanations and stories about the Nativity Façade, but they were totally awed when we went in. I have to say that I love watching the reactions of my guests when they first go in, and I let them enjoy the experience in silence for a while, until I feel that they are ready for explanations again.
John is an engineer, so he had a strong interest in the architectural solutions that Gaudi used. We discussed all this and more, and we even had time to visit the museum in the basement where they keep the plaster models used by Gaudi and where you can really dig deep on the technology and the project. We discussed the catenarian arches and watched the model makers work in their workshop.
We finally went back to the car, and Carles and I drop them by the port where they wanted to have lunch. It had been such a lovely couple of days with him! They promised to come back with their kids in 2026 when the Sagrada Familia Church is finished.
Interested in this itinerary? In this link you’ll find ideas for 2 days in Barcelona: either for 2 days walking, or 2 days with a driver, or one of each as we did with the Barroway.