Winter is cold and rainy in Paris, but Barcelona is only a 2 hour flight away and about 10 F warmer, so I decided to finally go see all the Gaudi buildings and try the food I've heard so much about in person:) I have friends who go to Barcelona as often as Los Angelenos go to Las Vegas, so they suggested I stay in the Gothic area or Barri Gòtic, which is the old town and literally a few blocks from Port Vell, the Ramblas, and the beach. I found a great place on Air BnB with a marvelous host, but whether you prefer a five star hotel or a youth hostel, there are plenty of options in all price ranges.
This statue of Columbus marks the waterfront at one end of Port Vell and one end of the Las Ramblas, the famous walking promenade similar to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.
Since I arrived around midnight, I asked my host where to go for coffee and croissant the next morning (you can take me out of Paris, but I still need my French breakfast)! He couldn't remember which corner café of two nearby was the best so I tried the closest one on Carrer Ample.
Café au lait with a perfect flakey sugar topped croissant on the terrace was only 2.50 € or $3 USD, which would not even buy an espresso in Paris, and if you add a friendly smiling waitress, you have a priceless breakfast:)
I was the lone person on the terrace at 9 AM, but I walked by later and saw it filled around 11 AM.
The café sits on the square with the Basilica de la Mercè
Carrer de la Mercè borders the other side of the church and has some of the best tapas bars.
Having had breakfast, my first stop was Park Güell. I knew it was a huge place so I wore flats, but if you are going, I recommend you wear hiking shoes or boots because the trails are steep, rocky and uneven. I saw several people with canes and admired their sheer perseverance. You could easily spend all day here.
The lines at the ticket offices at the site were long, so if you are coming by metro, buy your tickets at the station or better yet buy them online. If you are coming by metro, keep in mind it is at least a 10 minute climb uphill to the park, even if you use the escalators on the streets.
This is just part of the walk uphill from the metro, yes you must go to the top of the picture to get to the park entrance!
These are some of the groomed stairs in the park, but the steps are uneven stones, so use the handrails!
Once you make the trek up, you are rewarded with views like this of the Sagrada Familia
and Tibidabo on the other side.
The natural landscaping is functional as toilets are now built into the rock formation:)
The lookout point
with mosaics of different colors and shapes
at every curve is one of the most popular spots.
There are several other attractions at Park Güell and you can buy a ticket for the Gaudi House Museum separately or with the entry into the Monumental Zone. The rest of the park is free:)
Some people have left locks on fences here like they do in Paris, hopefully the weight will not cause the same problems it does in Paris....
Palau Güell is the first house Gaudi designed and you can see how he created coach entries in his soon to be famous curved stye
although the straighter top portion belies the hold of conventional form on him :)