I had never been to Spain and don’t speak a word of Spanish. But the allure of Barcelona won us over and in a short three days we rebooked and rearranged our travel.

I could write paragraphs of our very great dilemma about going to Paris after the tragic events there of that Friday evening in November. It was a very, very difficult decision to make but in the end we decided to change our plans.

And, practically speaking, this also meant we needed to rethink our travel wardrobes. We had been prepared for Paris and cooler weather.…. coats, boots, sweaters etc. But Barcelona? It would be in the 60’s every day with no rain, and the possibility of a beach day! That was a switch for us!

Let’s start with the hotel.

Lucky for me that so many of my friends here had been to Barcelona, love it, and had many recommendations for me. Best of all was the hotel:
Hotel Villa Emilia

Hotel Collage_wm

These pictures don’t begin to do justice to this hotel. It was truly lovely. Small, in a residential area, with personal attention and very tastefully done.

From the hotel we had easy access to the Metro, parks, museums and the beach.


This was one of our favorite areas: the Placa Reial. Designed in the 19th Century it was a convent for many years. The enormous square is now home to hotels and restaurants.



European streets and architecture at their best.



We saw many building with this decorative frieze work on the walls.



Yours truly…in a lovely park in the Barceloneta area.

We managed to get advance tickets to
La Sagrada Familia
We spent several hours here, both in the main Cathedral and in the museum below. I’m only sorry we were not able to go into the Towers…but no tickets were available. Do go to the website to learn about this Gaudi masterpiece and its on-going construction. We were not prepared to be so overwhelmed!


Panorama of one side of the cathedral. The stained glass was just beautiful.


Looking up, inside the cathedral. Amazing….

We had tickets to the
Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya
Set up on a hill with views overlooking the entire city, the museum is a must if you go! Both outside and inside are wonderful. We were able to see a special exhibit:
Undamaged. Still Lifes From The Spanish Golden Age
Just beautiful.


The view from the front of the museum in panorama.

Museo d'Art_wm

Museum images, inside and out.


As for the food…it was amazing. Every meal we had was (almost) better than the last. The tapas idea suited us ideally! Lots of small bites, easy to share, and each meal full of new tastes.
We were very, very lucky to get a table (without a reservation…) at
Bodega 1900
. This is the less formal “sister” restaurant of Tickets. Both of these were featured in the Barcelona episode of
“I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” on PBS.
Do you know it? For any travel buff or foodie, it is a must! Anyway, we happened upon Bodega 1900 and just happened to snag one of the two outdoor tables. What a fun experience: we let the waitress order for us (they encourage this) and ended up with a glass of their secret recipe vermouth and then about seven or eight tapas courses. Fabulous.

And last, it was my birthday and my daughter surprised me with lunch and a present in between museum visits:



One last image for you…and one of our favorite views.


If you really want to see more images, click on my Flickr account for the album.

As an aside here, I want to tell you about the never ending suitcase controversy: carry-on vs. checked luggage. I am, almost without fail, a checked baggage person. But this time I decided to try carry-on. My clothes etc. all fit into my standard 22″x 14″ bag just fine. This is the standard size required by all airlines. But there was NO way I could possibly lift that suitcase up to the bin. How do any of you do this? I mean, it’s about 30 lbs, right? I lift weights three times a week at the gym, and I still wasn’t able to get that bag up there! My daughter and I did it together; but how do you handle this? Don’t you find it a problem?

So, I have tried the carry-on route and it did not work for me.  And no, on the return trip I checked the bag!
Would love to hear your comments about this never-ending dilemma…

And, if you want more specific recommendations for Barcelona and other places we tried, just send me an email.