Turning 30 Abroad in Barcelona

I had been talking about going to Spain for my 30th birthday for over a year, and I’m proud to say that I actually did! My birthday was on Saturday this year, so how could I not celebrate this milestone somewhere amazing? My sister and I could only spend a long weekend in Spain (she’s a working mother of 3 and my PTO was nearly barren). We didn’t want to pack too much traveling into our 4-day trip, so we decided to spend our time in one city: Barcelona!

I chose Barcelona for 2 reasons. 1) My dad had been years ago and raved about the architecture of La Sagrada Famila, and 2) While teaching in Japan, I learned all about the Japanese architect, Esturo Sotoo, and all of the amazing work he’s done on the cathedral. I know it’s very unoriginal to say I wanted to go to Barcelona to see La Sagra Familia, but I don’t care! My sister and I had a great time traveling together and getting to experience a taste of Spain.

If you’re visiting Barcelona, I highly recommend staying at atCase De Gracia. It’s a short walk away from the metro stop Passeig de Gracia, and it was extremely easy for us to get anywhere we wanted to in the city. We had breakfast every morning on a warm and sunny patio, and there was free coffee  24/7! Also, the staff left a birthday message and a chocolate bar on my bed for my birthday. :)


Here are some highlights from our trip:

La Sagrada Familia is MASSIVE. This was about as much of the cathedral that we could get in with a picture of me in it.


Selfies outside La Sagrada Familia are hard.20180609_1418547518512950879772754.jpg

I’m not sure if this is a popular opinion or not, but my sister and I were more astounded by the architectural designs inside the church than we were the outside.

20180610_155258It was really cool to take a panoramic shot of the stained glass windows and capture the transition of light to dark.20180610_16030920180610_163118

We paid for the audio tour and got to listen to each part at our own pace. It was really funny to see so many people walking around with these old-fashioned phones glued to their ears instead of smartphones.


We also paid to go up and see the view from the top of the nativity tower. We took an elevator to the top, but then we had to walk 400 steps down an incredibly narrow staircase.20180610_16483720180610_164859

Man am I glad I didn’t drop my phone trying to get this shot.20180610_165125

We also paid to enter Park de Guell. The two houses in the picture below remind me of gingerbread houses.


90% of the reason I wanted to pay the entrance fee to get into the park was so I could see the multicolored mosaic salamander, but it was impossible to get a picture without another tourist in the frame. This is the best I could do with cropping out a random lady.20180611_1655024384453024048016880.jpg

We had a nice time walking around the free parts of Park de Guell.20180611_1549505683457170629322003.jpg

Shamelessly jumping around these giant pillars was free too!20180611_184510

I made my own mosaic out of 4 different Gaudi mosaics.


I really wanted to see the pretty exterior of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. We thought it would be more of an adventure getting there, but we got off the metro and it was actually right at the top of the steps.


And what kind of travel blog would this be if I didn’t show pictures of all the delicious food we ate? From top left: tapas, creme brulee, seafood paella, and churros covered in warm Nutella. (I didn’t take any pictures of it, but the first meal we had was at this hole in the wall tapas place that had the best seafood dishes I’ve ever tasted.)


If you were a teenager in the early 2000’s, you will totally understand why I ate this candy when the clock struck midnight on my 30th birthday.


For my birthday dinner, my dad’s friend was able to get us a reservation at this great place down by the beach called Carpe Diem. (Thanks, Carmen!)

We were really confused at first why the restaurant was so tiny from the outside. (Turns out we had to take an escalator down to the actual place.)


Sangria by candlelight!20180609_212107

Do actual VIPs feel awkward eating dinner on a bed? Because it definitely feels more natural to eat dinner in my bed at home. Maybe that’s why I don’t have VIP status…

Regardless, salud! I had Thai green curry and my sister had Indian curry. 20180609_2358088266571949682530238.jpg

I really wish we could have stayed longer in Spain because I feel like we were just getting to know the city. And it was really easy to sleep in and take 2-hour naps every afternoon. But alas, we had to get back to our real lives.

If you haven’t turned 30 yet, I highly recommend visiting a place you’ve always wanted to celebrate your birthday. It definitely made the sting of my 20s ending hurt a little bit less. ;)

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