Au Revoir Paris…Bienvinguts a Barcelona!
NY Mama Ami Cadugan returns to profile the first city in her new series “Au Revoir Paris…Hello Europe” detailing the ease of travel from Paris which is a two-hour plane, train or car ride to pretty much anywhere), Ami has travelled to well over 40 locations in Europe whilst living in Paris for over three years. Having moved all the way from the USA, Paris provided the perfect central location to explore more than just France. As the weekends in Paris would draw closer, Ami would be packing up her travel bags and heading off with daughters and husband in tow, for a taste of what else Europe had to offer and no stone was left unturned.
Living in Paris offers the chance to not just indulge in the beauty of this fantastic city but it’s a location that enables us to use some of our time and cash to explore the rich offerings of neighbouring towns and countries. Whether it be for a long weekend or during the school holidays it’s worth taking full advantage. For many of us like Ami (an American expat), it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
MLP asked Ami if she wouldn’t mind sharing some of the highlights from the places she has discovered and some of her hot tips, just to give us a little inspiration.
Luckily for us, she said yes! So here on MLP we are going to get a little slice of her adventures. So, over to you Ami….
Thanks! Since Barcelona is less than a two-hour plane ride from Paris (Orly or CDG), it’s a great place to start! Driving and rail options exist as well, but take far longer and are actually less cost-effective. This city is rich in Architecture (Gaudí); Food (La Boqueria, local-celebrity restaurateurs) and art (Joan Miró, MNAC). And don’t forget the espadrilles! The beaches are also quite popular, weather-pending.
All Gaudí, All the Time
You really can’t say you’ve seen Barcelona without seeing Antoni Gaudí’s colourful surreal architectural wonders. Many people think his works are reminiscent of Salvador Dalí or even Dr. Seuss, but it turns out the opposite is true…Gaudí himself predated them both by 52 years! His inspiration truly came from biblical themes and architectural motifs found in nature.
Gaudí’s most famous works include La Sagrada Familia (this church is still under construction – after 130 years! #Towards2026).
Tree-like columns, apostles, colourfully tiled salamanders and the glass of cracked champagne bottles are all elements that can be found in his works.
You also gotta check out La Pedrera (aka Casa Milà), a very funky apartment building with great photo ops on the roof terrace – just watch your step up here! If you want to see them all, book the Full Day Tour from Viator and then you can check it off your list!
Food, Food & More Food
La Boqueria is Barcelona’s Instagram-worthy food hall. Home to rows of vendors selling fresh produce, meats, seafood, olives and wines, it also houses many small restaurants. Come hungry and leave satisfied! Our favourite stop here was El Quim De La Boqueria. We visited based on the recommendation of Phil Rosenthal’s show “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having”. As an FYI, Phil was the Creator, Writer and Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Need I say more? His latest Netflix show is Somebody Feed Phil . And yes, we had exactly what Phil had. Fried eggs with baby squids. Out of our comfort zone, for sure!
Sphereified Olives at Bodgea 1900 are a not-to-be-missed treat for fans of molecular gastronomy. The rest of the tapas filled menu was also very enjoyable – in between those two bottles of house-branded Sangria and a few glasses of vermouth!
Albert Adria is the famous restaurateur behind this concept, as well as many others in town. His latest is Enigma – bon courage getting a reservation there! He and his brother, Ferran also founded elBulli. Formerly Guide Michelin’s #1 Restaurant in the World (five times over!), sadly, elBulli is no longer around. Happily, Ferran’s olives are!
Joan Miró’s museum, Fondation Joan Miró, is off the beaten path, but worth the trip. Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) is the public transport system, with bus numbers 55 and 150 running up to the Museum from the heart of downtown. We took one of those (forgot which one!), but it was an easy and inexpensive ride. The outdoor space on the top level is also fun to explore, boasting several colourful sculptures. Their restaurant has some tasty snacks and you can pick up some great “coffee-table” worthy gifts in their bookstore.
From there, we walked through Parc de Montjuic and the Jardins de Joan Maragall to get to the MNAC, the Museum Nationale Art Catalonian. We were happy to find more Modern works from Catalonian sons Miró, Picasso and even Gaudí. But they also house art from the Renaissance, Baroque and Medieval times. So a little something for all the museum-goers in your life
If you’re looking for authentic, hand-made (and inexpensive!) espadrilles, look no further than La Manual Alpargatera. Don’t buy them anywhere but here! Depending on the season, there may be a long queue to have one of the members of this family run business personally wait on you. Worth it!! They also speak everything from Catalan to English to Japanese, so everyone will feel comfortable.
You’ll be spoilt for choice with the amount of footwear on offer. Check out the video my daughter shot while we were there. Evidently, there IS a right way to tie espadrilles! There’s more shopping down this block as well and it’s just a stone’s throw from Las Ramblas.
Learning How to Tie Espadrilles at La Manual Alpargatera
Speaking of which, Las Ramblas is considered the “main drag” of Barcelona and runs through the heart of the city centre. La Boqueria is here, along with tons of cheesy tourist traps and souvenir shops. Many of your favourite international brands can be found here as well. If you need a fix of H&M or Zara, look no further. It’s also home to El Corte Ingles, Spain’s national department store. Good hand-eye coordination between your purse and wallet is critical here! As an FYI, there are three metro stops along the way. If you have a daily “steps” goal, you will definitely meet it here!
The beaches of Barcelona are a cultural phenomenon. Since our visit was during the winter, sadly, we were unable to partake. However, locals told us that the best beaches are actually outside of the city (Sitges, Costa Brava).
If you’re staying in-town, they recommend Bogatell Beach. All reviews say that it’s less crowded, touristy and cleaner than Barceloneta Beach. BTW, never leave your personal items unattended…wherever you go and remember to pack your SPF50, the rays here are intense!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about European travel, including the best way to get to specific destinations, what to do when you get there, and, most importantly, what to eat and drink! Bisous, Ami
For more great tips on places to explore within reach of Paris check out some of our top posts like our ten-day trips from Paris and places to hike just outside the city, oh and our fab post about Lyon!
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