My knowledge of Barcelona prior to this trip is not what you'd call inspiring. In 2011, shortly after B and I visited France for the first time, my mother went to Barcelona on a work trip. Long story short, a thief ripped her heavy gold necklace right off her neck in broad daylight. So there's that.
Before that incident, all I knew about Barcelona was that it hosted the 1992 summer Olympic Games, because I adore the Olympics, especially women's gymnastics (side note: can I get a hands UP for Team USA this year? Aren't they KILLER?!).
Needless to say I approached Barcelona with a certain...ah...apprehension. As far as I know no gymnastics were going on during our trip, but I'm guessing the petty criminals were still in business.
If they were, however, they had the good sense to leave us alone. And we had a fabulous two days in Barcelona. The shopping was spot-on, and I was able to stock up on some of my European favorites (Caudalie Divine Oil and Longchamp Le Pliage totes, I'm looking at you!). I fell in love with all the gorgeous, colorful mosaic tiled everything in the city, paying homage to Gaudi. Sagrada Familia was beautiful (if crowded), and Parc Guell was a gem. And we got some good snacks and a great meal or two. While it's certainly no Paris or Florence, or even London, I liked Barcelona a lot. Read on to see what we did.
E & B
where we stayed
AC Hotel Diagonal L'Illa // This is a Marriott property. And you can tell. Holy mother of comfort, Batman. Our room was HUGE, with what felt like the world's biggest king bed and a sizable sitting area with a couch and a desk. The bathroom had a large walk-in shower, and the whole hotel was - get this - on top of a huge shopping mall/area/thing. Can you say SCORE? It was also very close to a bus stop, which we used to get around the city. I could happily have moved into that hotel. Great, safe, convenient location and a perfect room. You can't ask for better than that.
how we got around
Hola BCN travel card // Similar to the Oyster card in London, the Hola Barcelona card offers unlimited transportation for a set fee. We did an unlimited 2-day pass, but you can go up to five days. It allows you transportation via subway, bus, or tram. It was 14 euros for our 2-day pass, and it was well worth it to use a combination of buses and subways without having to deal with a ticket every time. Buy it online, redeem your code for actual tickets at a metro station, and you're in business.
what we did
L'illaDiagonal // This is the shopping mall below our hotel. It could have been extremely dangerous, except they didn't have a Longchamp store or a parapharmacy, so the stuff I wanted wasn't here. However, they did have some really cute stores I might have liked to explore more if I hadn't been saddled with, you know, my husband. And they had a macaron stand. Again, it's no Laduree, but then, what is? You take what you can get.
El Corte Ingles // Also another giant shopping center, but this one with a plethora of Longchamps (on sale, no less!), as well as a parapharmacy in the basement that had Caudalie, Klorane, Biotherm, and other French skincare goodies, and a grocery store that had tons of fifths of Blanton's bourbon for cheaper than in the U.S. (for my brother and his wife). Can you say success? And B encouraged me to buy more Longchamps because they were on sale here. He FOUND additional Caudlie for me. Wonders never cease.
where we ate
DelaCrem // It was basically pouring, but we wanted gelato and B found this. He's good in a pinch, let me tell you. This was some damn tasty gelato. He got chocolate chip (meh), but I got passion fruit, and have mercy. Even in the rain, it was totally worth it.
where we drank