It was about a year ago that I knew Mark was planning a trip for my 30th birthday – the Golden one – 30 on October 30th. I surprised him with his first trip to New York City for his 30th, and being the best husband that he is by knowing exactly how to love me, it was no surprise that he’d return the favor with something big for mine. This big, though? This I was not expecting.
One night over the summer, after a few glasses of a wine on the back porch in that glorious June dusk, Mark decided to tell me what we were doing. The only stipulation was that I couldn’t change any of the plans, to which I gladly obliged.
Barcelona and France for 12 days. There was lots of screaming.
First stop: Barcelona – a city we fell madly in love with. I had done zero research on any of the place we traveled – or look at any photos – which made me so giddy to experience them as they came and have no expectations. Here is a taste of our time in this new favorite city of ours, one that we can’t stop talking about and deeply miss.
Having done no research on the things we’d see, walking up to La Sagrada Família was breathtaking. I didn’t get a photo of it from far away, so if you have no idea what I’m referring to, see here. Designed by legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí in 1883, La Sagrada Família basilica remains unfinished to this day. By the time of his death in 1926, it was less than a quarter complete. Now, more than a century since the first foundation stone was laid, it’s entered its final stage of construction and is scheduled for completion in 2026 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. It will be the world’s tallest church, standing 565 feet above Barcelona!
Our first evening was spent roaming around Pable Espanyol and being entertained by Flamenco dancing.
Our first full day was consumed by La Mercè, the annual festival and holiday of Barcelona since 1871. All 600-ish events spread throughout the plazas, streets and parks are free. We started the day “waking up the city” in a small parade with locals who played music and walked the streets to the main event location – Plaça St Jaume. There, we watched papier maché giants dance and the Castellers – human towers. I’ve never been in such a large, tight crowd in my life – at one point unable to lift my arms from my side above my head – but it was worth it.
Smoke from musket fire.
A glorious day in Villafranca with lots of Cava.
Attending a FC Barcelona game in Camp Nou was a major highlight of our trip. Any soccer fan should know how happy I was this entire day. Arguably the best (and most supported team) in the world, Barça is my favorite team to watch compete. Besides Messi getting injured in the first five minutes of the game, it was just so incredible – especially with a victory over Las Palmas in a La Liga match.
With a 99,354 capacity, Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe and the second biggest football stadium in the world.
This is us with Sergi and Susan who made this trip unforgettable. Susan and Mark went to high school together and have stayed in touch over the yeara. She moved to Barcelona and married Sergi, who we are obsessed with. It was such a blessing to have a local give us the history of the city and country from his perspective. For almost the entire visit, we chose to spend all free moments with them letting them take us where they thought we should go – eat where they chose – and sit on their roof until 3:00 AM talking life and drinking wine. I had never met Susan until this trip and still miss her. We stayed in their perfect Airbnb so if anyone is ever in search of a place to stay in Barcelona, let us know! Leaving them was equally as hard – if not harder – than leaving Spain.
All photos shot with my new Fuji x100t (thanks Mom and Pop!)