Barcelona reminded me a lot of Venice. Perhaps it's the proximity to the ocean, but the feel of the city emanated Italy more than it did the rest of Spain. We spent a weekend there, arriving on Friday night and leaving Sunday evening; I booked us a neat airbnb that we didn't end up spending much time at, other than to sleep. Most of our time was spent exploring the city by foot (though our few rides on the metro left me impressed - it's so clean, compared to the ones in the US!).
My mom had gotten tickets for us to visit the Familia de Segrada and Casa Batllo; if you can't see both and have to choose, I would check out Casa Batllo. The Familia de Segrada was also impressive, but I found I appreciated it more afterwards, when looking through the photos I had snapped and marveling in the architecture. It is still under construction, and both places were overrun by tourists, which is unavoidable but makes it difficult to fully appreciate the whole experience. Casa Batllo was a little more personal because of their unique audio tour that allows you to better immerse yourself in the surroundings. I wish we had gotten to see more, but a weekend isn't long enough to see much at all! It rained our first night there and was grey the remainder of the weekend, which gave the whole city a somewhat dreary feel. I'd love to see what it's like when the sun is out.
We ate a lot of tapas and pinchos and drank a lot of wine. Stopped into a gin bar that was heavy on the dating scene. Walked past a variety of fun shops and small boutiques that seemed to go on forever. Roamed the streets at night and took in how the architecture changed when the sun went down. We also walked right into a neighborhood street parade and listened to the fanfare for a while. On our last day there, we wanted to see the ocean. After many roadblocks, (due party to our own stubbornness, and partly to the fact that there was an Iron Man competition going on in Barcelona that day), we finally found a beach. We had to park in an empty restaurant parking lot and go through a tunnel that ran underneath the street, but we finally made it to the beach. Turns out it was a nude beach, though we were the only people there, so we only knew that from a handwritten sign on the side of a rock. After driving for what felt like forever, it felt good to dip our toes in the water and dig our feet into the sand. I collected as much beach glass as I could carry and it's now stored in a mason jar in our living room.