Landing in Barcelona: Gothic Quarter, Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia

We departed from Toronto on an overnight flight with Air Canada toward Barcelona, where we would start our trip in Spain. Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly intolerant of discomfort while travelling, so we opted to splurge on an upgrade to Premium Economy. Although we probably could’ve tolerated our economy seats, it was nice to have the extra legroom and amenities to allow for at least a couple hours of decent sleep. I still woke up feeling nauseous from turbulence toward the end, so was relieved when the nine hour flight was finally over.

Arriving in the Gothic Quarter

We arrived in mid-morning and caught a quick taxi ride from the airport to Hotel 1898, located on La Rambla. This busy boulevard in central Barcelona is a tree-lined pedestrian street filled with souvenir kiosks and lots of tourists (along with pickpockets).

The hotel was conveniently situated in the Gothic Quarter, the historic centre of the old city of Barcelona. This area encompasses the oldest parts of the city, including remains of the Roman wall and other notable medieval landmarks. We found it to be a great place to stay for a short first time trip to Barcelona, easily walkable to the metro and many other major landmarks.

The hotel itself was pretty nice, with a cool spa pool that we relaxed in several times throughout our stay. They even left me a surprise birthday cake in the room when we came back from our day out!

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we popped over next door to Bar Lobo where we had our first tapas in Spain, including my favourite, the classic patatas bravas.

Exploring Casa Batllo

After checking in for a rest break in our room, we set off for Casa Batllo. This home located on Passeig de Gracia in the Eixample district was originally constructed in 1877. It was later purchased by aristocrat Joseph Batllo, who in 1904 commissioned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi to redesign it.

The building is one of Gaudi’s most iconic works in Barcelona, featuring a “skulls and bones” design on the facade, where the skulls are the balconies and bones are the supporting pillars.

We spent about an hour touring around the building. Our tickets included an audio guide, but to be honest I found it somewhat boring so didn’t bother following along with it. It was still interesting to see the place with its unique design of colours and shapes that were apparently inspired by marine life.

The tour ended in the basement, where we were surprised to experience the “Gaudi Cube”, a 6-sided LED cube immersive space designed by artist Refik Anadol. I can’t seem to upload a good video of it so you’ll just have to take my word that it was the coolest thing to see at Casa Batllo!

A visit to Sagrada Familia

This was actually my second trip to Barcelona so I’ve seen Sagrada Familia once before, but we had to make a repeat visit for Mr. Chuckles’ first time in Spain. After our stop at Casa Batllo, we walked over to this famous unfinished Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Construction on the church began in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villa. When Villa resigned, Gaudi took over as chief architect and transformed the project with his combination of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. He devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and is in fact buried in the church crypt. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete and it still remains under construction.

Since I last visited in 2016, I don’t think much has changed. I recall seeing different views from the top but I probably went up a different tower last time.

Feeling exhausted from jet lag, we retired to our hotel for the rest of the day and ended up ordering room service for dinner.

Next up, our first full day exploring more of Barcelona.

11 responses to “Landing in Barcelona: Gothic Quarter, Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia”

  1. Great photographs. I’m not sure I would select the architecture for myself as it is so intricate but it is quite beautiful and different to anything I’ve seen before. A nice touch to deliver a birthday cake. It shows that the staff are paying attention. I have the impression of a lot of colour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The architecture would not be my style either but it is definitely very interesting to see!


  2. In theory, I should be going to Barcelona in a few months. We’re redoing the Spain – Andorra – France trip that got kiboshed by Covid. However, we decided to just do the France and Andorra part, so Barcelona will have to remain on the “must see” list for now. Such cool architecture. Imagine having free rein to just work your art like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah you will have to make it to Spain someday! Andorra looks like an interesting place to visit. I’ll be looking forward to your posts about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I spent time in Spain in high school, but that was a long time ago and it was from Madrid down to the coast, so Barcelona is still on the list.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful first day in Barcelona upon landing! Coming from North America, the long flight over can be a big, sometimes uncomfortable journey, so any upgrades (including Premium) can make a difference! Glad you explored some Gaudi, and I look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beautiful pictures of Barcelona 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favourite European city 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What would Barcelona be without Gaudi, an interesting city but lacking the forward-looking madness that he gave it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely gives the city a very interesting aesthetic!

      Liked by 1 person

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