Best Things to do in Barcelona!

In 2009 I lived in Barcelona for a summery 6 weeks and fell head over heels in love with everything about this artsy, vibrant, loud & colorful city. In 2016 I finally went back and got to share the experience with my husband. It was so surreal to be back there, and made me fall in love all over again. I wanted to share some of my favorite things to do in the wonderful city of Barcelona!

First of all, the BEST and most important advice I can give you for how to see Barcelona is to walk and wander!! Barca is a very walkable city, especially through the older parts of town and the Gothic Quarters. There are so many hidden architectural details, shops, squares and even cathedrals, you never know what you will find. If you can, stay in the Gothic Quarters – it’s a great starting point for so many adventures. Check AirBnB for apartments!

TO SEE: 

PARK GUELL 
Park Guell is one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Barcelona is filled with them, but this gorgeous park was my favorite. With architectural detail, mosaics all over the place and fantastic views of the whole city (find the top of the hill with the stone cross!), it’s super artsy and has plenty to explore. P.S. You can walk all around the actual park for free, but to get into the mosaic area, you need tickets, and you need to buy those in advance.

CATHEDRAL of BARCELONA
You can take an elevator to the top for an awesome view. Try to go around noon – you will get swept up in all the church bells around the whole city ringing at once.

ART MUSEUMS
Picasso Museum
Joan Miro Foundation
Poble Espanyol – a museum of Spanish architecture
Museum of National art of Cataluyna – even if you don’t go inside this one, at least go see the building, it’s stunning.

LA BOQUERIA 
La Boqueria is a crowded, busy, smelly, yet wonderful and authentic open-air food market.You can buy 10 apples and a whole baguette for like 2 euro. So cheap! It’s a good place to grab a quick lunch or a days worth of snacks. The market is off of the famous street La Ramblas, which is very overwhelming and kind of like the Times Square of Barca. Aka, too touristy, so you don’t have to stay long. Just hit La Boqueria and you’re good!

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
Another amazing Gaudi creation! Each side of the cathedral looks different. One side is very modern and geometric, while the other is kind of… well all I can say is that it almost looks like a drip sand castle. It sounds weird, but it really is beautiful! Walk around the outside and be amazed by the incredibleness. If you go across the street to the park, Placa del Gaudi, you can get a full view of the ‘sand castle’ side. You can also take a tour of the inside of the cathedral, but it’s a little pricey to get in, so stick to the outside for a great, and free, way to experience it.

FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou
If you are in town at the right time and can catch a game, do it! One of my faaaaavorite memories from my first time in Barcelona. Exhilarating and electric and so much fun!

Before we continue, let me take a minute to remind you that walking and wandering around is the best way to experience this city. There are so many hidden gems that aren’t in a tourist guide or blog post. From the tiny shops to even the insane displays of street art. Walk, walk, walk!

PLACES TO DRAW, RELAX &/or PLAY:
The boardwalk along the beach. Head towards the neighborhood called La Barceloneta and you’ll find it. Barcelona has a vibrant beach culture – outdoor gyms, volleyball courts, of course swimming, and tons of good restaurants along the water. There’s a LOT to do in that area!
Park De Ciutadella is a great place to relax & people watch It has a wonderful fountain, lots of street performers, and few cool sculptures hanging around.

OTHER THINGS:
Artsy people, bring your sketchbook! There’s SO much to sketch and observe and memorize. My sketchbook pages are always my favorite souvenirs from wherever I travel, and that idea all started in Barcelona. Sitting, looking & sketching helps me take a minute to actually remember a view with my brain and not my just camera.

Drink cafe con leche (it’s basically a latte, but it sounds more authentic that way 🙂 ). And eat a chocolate croissant. Preferably together. Also eat paella, tapas, croquetas, basil gelato.

I actually have a few things that are still on my Barca to-do list. Castell Monjuic is one of them, as well as taking a tour of all the various Olympic sites from the 1992 Olympics. Someday! Hopefully soon! 🙂

Talk to me! What are you hoping to see in Barcelona? If you’ve already been, what were your favorite highlights?

Easy Hikes Around Greater Boston

There are a lot of great places to hike and go on nature walks around the Boston area. None of them are very strenuous or intense – you’ll have to go up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for that! But these are some of our favorite ‘easy’ hikes around the Boston area. They are all easily day trips, and some are even quick afternoon trips. So grab a group of friends, or your dog, or both, and go get some fresh air this weekend!

Noanet Woodlands – So much exploring to do here. Not only is this close to Boston, but you also get a great view of the city (see above). It’s a decent sized area; there are multiple trail options and the wide trails are perfect for a nice walk or run. A couple trails have ruins of old houses and you can even explore an old dam.

Rocky Narrows – Smaller in area, but just as much adventure. You can walk by the Charles River, or hike up to a great view of the Charles River. The trails vary in width, from wide and groomed, to rooted and rocky, but either way you’re in for a good day.

Check out my past blog posts about these other great outdoor spots near Boston!

Hale Reservation

Middlesex Fells 

F. Gilbert Hills State Park

10 Tips for Traveling in Ireland (that no one ever told you!)

My family and I went to Ireland! We were there during the last week of April, and as expected, temperatures were still pretty cold. I think the highest temp we saw was mid-50s, but the wind made it feel much colder than that. My favorite sights were Giant’s Causeway, Slieve League, Dunluce Castle (all on the Northern Coast) and the Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. Read below for some tips I learned along the way!

  • Most, if not all, restaurants in small Irish towns stop serving food at 9pm on Monday and Tuesdays (though they may still serve drinks.) If you are on a ‘travel day’ and won’t arrive to your destination until the evening, just know that you may not get a real dinner. But Apache Pizza’s are open late… I might speak from experience. 😉
  • Related: Pubs typically stop serving any food at either 4 or 5pm and only serve drinks. Also Related: Try to eat dinner between 4 and 7! Most restaurants have an ‘early bird’ special, so dinner will be cheaper.
  • We did ALL of our trip via public transportation. It was a little limiting at times, due to our schedule revolving around the public transportation schedule. BUT if you aren’t really keen on driving on the opposite side, or would rather someone else drive you around, then it’s worth it. Just gotta be flexible.
  • We quickly learned that everything in Ireland is all word of mouth – so just ask! About anything! Especially in the countryside. It seemed like everyone knew everyone, even if they weren’t in the same town, and they are more than happy to give you suggestions and tips.
  • PRO TIP: Paddy Byrne‘s boat tours of Slieve League cliffs is a must-do. It was the BEST experience of our whole trip.
  • Utilize the people who work at the tourist centers – they know things and they know people. We basically planned the second half of our trip with the help of Jane, in the Derry tourist center. You might not want to look like a tourist, but really, just ask for their help.
  • We got this pro-tip right from a bartender himself: Ask the hotel bartenders for recommendations! They know lots of cabbies and local info, probably more than the hotel receptionist. Plus, bartenders will lead you to the cheapest option. (seriously, our bartender promised us that!)
  • Pack small spray bottle of a refreshing essential oil/water mix that you can spray over your suitcase to keep things fresh. I brought lavender and it worked great. (This is a good tip for traveling anywhere, tbh)
  • Dublin tip: Stay in the Trinity College area. Everything that we found worth doing was in that area, but unfortunately our AirBnb was not. Lucky for us, the bus system is pretty simple to figure out, but it would have been nice to be able to walk out our doorstep and be in the action, instead of taking a 25 minute bus ride.
  • The weather in mid-late April is NUTSO. It could be sunny one moment and sleeting the next. I’m not kidding! One constant, though, was wind! All. the. wind. Especially along the Northern coast. Bring a rain jacket/wind breaker combo and layer with a sweater underneath, and you should be all set.

Are you going to Ireland soon? Refer back to this list when you start to plan! And comment below with any questions you might have!

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2017 Spring Playlist

Music of Spring 2017 (so far. I realize we have a lot of Spring left to live!)

Albums:
Lael – Phoenix (his album Clarity is also great)
Will Regan / United Pursuit – Tell All Your Friends
Little Big Town – The Breaker
Ed Sheeran’s Divide, obviously

Singles:
Dispatch – Only the Wild Ones
Maggie Rogers – Alaska
Coldplay / Chainsmokers – Something Just Like This

FULL Spring Playlist!! (but like I said, in progress)