Christmas in Spain was the perfect way to end 2018. I went to Spain with my husband and daughter after deciding in the summer that we no longer wanted to waste our time and money buying gifts that were, let’s be real … meaningless. We figured out it would be more beneficial to spend our money on creating memories, than on another sweater or gadget that would be purchased, just because.
Spain has a been a dream destination for my daughter since high school since she is pretty fluent in Spanish and loves the culture. My husband and I both enjoy dining on tapas (our favorite restaurant here in Connecticut ironically is Barcleona) and sipping on good wines from Spain so this was also a place we were both excited to visit.
We flew out of JFK with with layovers in Dublin going there and London on the way home.
Seeing that we wanted a place we could stay together as a family, we decided that the Midtown Apartments would be an ideal location (they offer apartments only for people on vacation). It is located in a bustling and walkable area of Barcelona (a plus for the apartments location is that it is directly across from one of the beautiful buildings the famed architect Gaudi designed). I loved the modern industrial décor of the building and the apartment. The apartments have everything you would need from a washer and dryer to dishes/pots/cooking utensils. The living room has a large size TV and surround sound speakers that allow you to play your music through Bluetooth. The bedrooms are comfortable with balconies of city views. The bathrooms are quite spacious and they even have towel warmers. One thing to note about this place is that there are hand towels and bath towels but no wash cloths so if you like to shower with a washcloth, I suggest bringing them.
LUNCH: We had lunch the first day at Levante Bistro… the bistro is charming inside and the food was very good. We especially loved the hummus and lamb meatballs.
BREAKFAST: The 2nd day we ate breakfast at Singular where we enjoyed a café bombon (espresso + condensed milk) drink as well as fresh carrot juice and egg dishes (you will find most breakfast places in Barcelona offers a delectable varied of fresh juices).
BRUNCH: We enjoyed brunch at Alsur Café (our favorite spot for breakfast/brunch food ) … which is a little less than a 10 minute walk right around the corner from the Midtown Apartments. We had a smoothie bowl, oatmeal bowl and again fresh juices. All of which were amazing. Again the fresh juice, which is offered at many eateries, was delicious and refreshing. We sat at a very big table that was more of a community table. We had three lovely ladies join us halfway through our meal. They also have tables for smaller groups of people.
DINNER: A place located right around the corner from the hotel is El Mercat. It has a beautiful bar and bright and open modern farmhouse feel to its decor. A must try if they are on the menu are the peas and the oxtail soup.
We enjoyed a paella at Xiringuito Escriba located right on the water. If the restaurant isn’t to busy you MAY be able to get a paella for one but generally the paella’s are served in large pans for serving 4-6 people. The hubby and I had the chicken and our daughter the seafood, both of which where really good.
We visited the highly suggested El Nacional which is a destination for eating. It’s a restaurant (massive) where you can enjoy multiple areas within it. There are areas dedicated to meats, tapas, seafood and etc. as well as a few bars and even an area for gelato. I have to be honest here. For a place that came so highly recommended we were quite disappointed with our food. The stew wasn’t a stew and the meat in it was very dry and had to be sent it back (they took it back without hesitation. top notch service) the chicken dish was really good but none of use really enjoyed the apple dessert. We felt it lacked flavor and spices.
We went to the Gothic quarter of the city (a must visit the first time there and please do wear comfortable walking shoes). There is a plethora of shops and eateries to visit.
While there be sure to visit Gelarto Rosa. The gelato was seriously so good!
(as you can see in the above photo, since we arrived the day after Christmas, many stores were closed as it was a holiday in Spain. The next day they were all open and very busy and bustling with people).
In particular, you will not want to miss taking in the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral
and within the Gothic quarter the plaça sant felip neri … a solemn and quiet area where 42 people where killed in January 1938, mostly children, during a bombing. There are visible dents in the stonework where the bombing took place. You will notice that this area is very quiet, and solemn yet also beautiful and romantic.
Visit the Gaudi House Museum. museum. Which is actually the home of Gaudi, one of Spain’s greatest and most respected architects. You will clearly see how important his faith and design was to him.
Speaking of Gaudi, there is one MUST see place when you visit Barcelona. The famous Sagrada Familia. It will be the greatest legacy to Gaudi once it’s completed in 2026. I would advise you buy tickets way before had as they do limit the amount of people per day that are able to tour inside Sagrada Família.
The only other place we wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to see was the Arc de Triomf. It is surely one place we want to visit once we go back.
THINGS TO NOTE:
- Unlike in the United States, when eating out, tipping is not expected. It’s not their custom as their pay wage is sufficent compared to the pay scale for servers in U.S.
- Restaurants and hotels are kind enough to call taxis if you need to get around so that was nice and surprising.
- Make sure to cash in your US currency for Euros because Euro is the currency used in Spain
- You will see 2 versions of flags prominently flown on the windows of homes in Barcelona. The red and yellow striped flags are the symbol for the people of Cataluna who want to be independent from Spain
- Traveling later in the year, winter is December – March, but it still doesn’t get super cold. Layers are highly recommended.
I hope this guide helps you if Spain is on your bucket list to travel. I truly hope it is.