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A Gaudi tour of Barcelona! Park Güell architecture, Sagrada Familia church, El Born restaurants.

park guell, barcelona fashion blogger

Are those… gingerbread houses? Almost. I’m standing in Barcelona’s Park Güell, which looks like a real-life candyland!

I’m sure you are familiar with the terrace in the photo above, designed by the extraordinarily progressive architect Antoni Gaudí. Let me take you a tour of his most famous buildings including La Sagrada Familia cathedral, and the spooky house of bones — Casa Batllo.

Finally, we’ll end with a round-up of my favorite food around the world, including the best Spanish cuisine in Barcelona. Sound good? Then ¡vamos!

lavender purple hair color, dyed hairstyle

With its electric-colored tiles and daydream atmosphere, Park Guell is my type of hangout.

Recently, I’ve been dying my hair a lighter shade of purple. My stylist Stephanie Hoy (at Stratosphere hair salon in Vancouver) did this vivid ombre color, which shifts from magenta to purple to lavender. Thank you to Stephanie for all the rainbow hairstyles and dyes over the years!

strathberry of scotland white leather minimal purse

I wore my white leather tote from Strathberry of Scotland. Their purses are modern and minimal, yet made with time-tested craftsmanship.

I’m always up for supporting independent design studios that create thoughtful, high-quality works like these. You can check out their entire collection here, including my Strathberry tote bag.

park guell outfit post, style blogger

Before we walk inside, let me dispense some travel tips for visiting Gaudi’s Park Guell. (Address: Carrer d’Olot, s/n, 08024, Barcelona, Spain)

I recommend booking your entrance tickets in advance from the Park Guell site, since they only release 400 tickets every half hour. Every ticket has a timed entry, so make sure to arrive well in advance of your time slot. If you show up and buy a ticket at the door, chances are that you can’t go inside the terrace until a few hours later — but you can explore the surrounding gardens in the meantime (no fees or restrictions there).

view of barcelona from park

We had a bit of time to kill before going inside, so we walked around the park. Gaudi integrated winding stone arches and pathways into the greenery, mimicking the organic forms.

From up high, we took in this view of Carmel Hill and surrounding Barcelona neighborhoods.

gaudi mosaics, park guell tiles

Park Guell was built between 1900-1914, originally as a housing development. It became a public park in 1926, and is now a UNESCO world heritage site

Gaudi’s design is a masterpiece of Catalan modernism / naturalism, with influences from mythology and the Temple of Apollo of Delphi. The staircase is guarded by a serpent, whose head pokes out of a Catalonian coat of arms.

barcelona park guell terrace, benches

When we reached our ticket entry time, we stepped inside the roped-off area and onto the famous terrace, or “Monumental Zone.” A long bench twists around the perimeter, like a sea serpent glistening with multi-colored mosaics. 

gaudi gingerbread castle, spanish modernisme

Each section of the tiled bench had different colors and patterns. This type of broken-tile mosaic is called Trencadis, and was a feature of Catalan modernism design.

moroccan nail art, colorful nails

I purposefully matched my nail art to the Spanish themes and colors of Park Guell. My gel nails are by Glam Nail Studio in Richmond, BC (near Vancouver).

There’s an Alice in Wonderland sense of whimsy, everywhere you wander in Park Guell. At the same time, the forms feel natural and not disorienting.

barcelona famous landmarks, gaudi buildings

From every angle, the organic forms become part of the landscape. The terrace overlooks the best panoramic view in Barcelona. 

gaudi park guell view, gardens

Visitors can go inside Gaudi’s “gingerbread house,” which looks like the witch’s lair in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale.

Casa Batlló, gaudi bones skulls house

As much as I love Park Guell, my favorite Gaudi work is hands down Casa Batlló. One glance at the facade at night, and you’ll know why: the windows look like they’re made of bones, and the balconies are like Jack Skellington skulls! The roof arches mimic the back scales of a dragon, and the interior arches are like ribcages. No wonder locals call this the Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones),

The spooky Casa Batllo is located near our El Palauet hotel, at Passeig de Gràcia 43, 08007. Visitors can find out more and purchase tickets to see this moderniste-Gothic masterpiece here.

barcelona beach lobster sculpture

Gaudi remains the most celebrated architect in Barcelona, and his spirit lives on in the funky public art and sculptures found around the city. Near La Barceloneta (the beach district), we spotted this happy-faced giant lobster statue.

cool barcelona street art, public art

We saw impressive street art everywhere, especially in El Raval (the former red-light district, now one of the coolest areas of Barcelona).

If you’re curious to see more, I wrote an entire guide to the El Raval hipster neighborhood.

la sagrada familia church exterior

Finally, no Gaudi tour is complete without going inside La Sagrada Familia. The controversial Catholic cathedral has yet to be finished, even though construction began in the late 19th century!

Gaudi was always ahead of the game, and during his life, citizens had mixed feelings about this ornate, experimental style. Today, the “Passion facade” (above) is one of the world’s most celebrated achievements in architecture.

fruit carvings gaudi cathedral

Since the construction is privately funded from donations and ticket sales, progress is slow and continuous. Can you believe that construction began in 1882… and is projected to be finished in 2026!

When we visited, the window peaks were being topped with stacks of fruit.

gaudi religious sculptures, sagrada

La Sagrada Familia is unlike any other church. Outside, you could spend hours looking at all the fine details of the facades. They show the apostles, nativity and more iconography – executed in curving, Art Nouveau style. 

sagrada familia roof interior

Inside, the nave ceiling looks like a hybrid of trees and clockwork. The complex geometric layers create this glorious effect.

gaudi sagrada familia statues, architecture

Gracias to Spain Tourism and Eurail for making our trip to Barcelona possible. I hope our Gaudi adventures inspire you to see Spain for yourself.

(Photography by my film partners, Borderless Media.)

el born 300 restaurant, barcelona

Another highlight of our Spanish journey: eating our fill of tapas! One of our favorite districts was El Born, a hip area surrounded by all types of ethnic restaurants.

We met up with friends at El 300 Del Born (Plaça Comercial, 12, 08003), a laid-back Spanish restaurant opened by the Michelin-starred chef Jordi Vilà. It’s in the same glass cultural center that houses excavated ruins from the 18th century. 

barcelona traditional food, authentic restaurants

Tapas (small plates of Spanish food) are perfect for people like me, who like to try a bite of everything. At El Born, we ate bombas, chocolate flat bread, baked eggs and other delicious Catalan specialities.

hong kong pizza parlor, motorino

You may have noticed that food has become a larger focus of my site lately. Since readers often ask me for restaurant recommendations in different countries, I thought I’d put together some of these “greatest hits” below. Enjoy, and add your own in the comments!

Click the bolded titles for all the food posts from each location. 

Hong Kong

Over the past few years, I’ve eaten and reviewed all types of restaurants in Hong Kong. Of course, you can eat fantastic Chinese dim sum here — but I actually prefer dining out at international restaurants like Motorino Pizza (above). Hong Kong is a competitive culinary scene, and there are always new chefs coming here to make waves.

israel hummus restaurant, tel aviv hommous

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel 

Israel’s food scene took me by surprise, in the best sense. I had no idea the local food was so fresh, with a focus on local seafood, olives and vegetables.

One of my favorite memories was eating at the hummus restaurant, where people from all backgrounds bonded over chickpea spread!

indonesian vegetarian food, bali

Bali, Indonesia

In Bali, I gained a new appreciation for cooking classes. My friends and I went to Jimbaran market with a chef. He then showed us how to make Indonesian dishes from scratch, beginning with spiced “bumbu” paste and ending with green pandan pancakes.

best hanoi pho noodles soup

Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam

I followed this up with a Vietnam food tour, where I made spring rolls with villagers and did a seafood cruise through Ha Long Bay. I still have many stories to show you from Southeast Asia…  above is a preview of Pirate Miffy eating pho!

san francisco peruvian restaurant

San Francisco, California

By now, you’ve probably guessed that I am a fish and seafood addict. San Francisco deserves its reputation as one of the foodie capitals of the world. I gained a new appreciation for Peruvian cuisine here, especially the ceviche and pisco sours.

budapest authentic traditional food restaurant

Budapest, Hungary

Whenever I go abroad, I try to take a culinary tour with a local insider. In Budapest, we did a four hour walk-and-taste, where I tried specialities such as a bitter liqueur and sheep cheese chocolate. Many items are not exported out of countries (such as small batch wines, dark grain breads and soft cheeses), so eat to your heart’s content while you’re there.

singapore molecular restaurants, tippling club

Singapore

Molecular madness, hawker centers, charcoal laksa… Singapore’s food scene rocks.  The chefs aren’t afraid to experiment, and you can get a world-class meal at any price point. We ate high, we ate low… and it’s all documented in my Singapore travel category.

cute japanese food, theme restaurants tv show

Tokyo, Japan

If I had to pick a favorite eating destination, I’d have to say Japan. At random hole-in-the-walls, you’ll find the best ramen and sushi of your life. I’m also a huge fan of izakayas — yuzu sours, grilled fish — and themed eateries like the Alice in Wonderland cafe.

(I also wrote two books about theme restaurants and cute food, if you want to dive in deeper.)

bright pink purple haircolor girl

To see where I’ll be dining next — and my current hair color! — feel free to add me on Instagram and Snapchat (@lacarmina). 

I’ll end with a fun question. “If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only eat three types of ethnic cuisine for the rest of your life, what would you pick?” I’d go for Japanese, Italian, and I’m undecided on the last one…

SHARE & COMMENT

30 Comments

  1. Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Amazingly beautiful (and yummy!) memories! I love how the li’l bear phone makes an appearance haha ;)

    • Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      that’s you holding the little boo boo bear hah!

  2. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Sweet!!

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      My second time visiting Gaudi’s masterpieces, and always a revelation.

  3. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    We are glad to hear that you enjoyed your time in BCN.

  4. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Always great to follow your updates La Carmina.

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks kindly!

  5. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    My city!

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Love your city.

  6. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    THAT HAIR
    LOVE

  7. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Happy Valentines Day!

  8. Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Loving this image of you in Guell Park.

  9. Posted February 18, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your post! More information about Casa Batlló https://www.casabatllo.es/ Thanks!

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      I love Casa Batllo, my favorite Gaudi building!

  10. Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Always amazing city. Strange that the weather wasn’t great

    http://7-sevendays.blogspot.gr/

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Such a great city. Actually we were glad it wasn’t sweltering hot – it was August and we were afraid we’d be burnt to death!

  11. Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    ムリすんなよ~!

  12. Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    rockin’ it girl

  13. Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    U Fine

  14. Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    hahaa

  15. Posted February 20, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Love this
    Fred

  16. Posted February 21, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    love your hair style

    • Posted February 22, 2016 at 4:21 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Shirley

  17. Posted February 21, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    heart your hair <3 you look stunning! that top <3 <3

  18. Posted February 21, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    beautiful look!

  19. Posted February 21, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I visited Barcelona for the first time on December. Magnificent city.

    • Posted February 22, 2016 at 4:21 am | Permalink

      It’s a very special place!

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