We had chosen the apartment, rented through a stylish outfit called Destination BCN, for two reasons: It had a stunning roof terrace, with views of the old town to the south and the mountains to the north, and it was just a block from Gaudí's Casa Milà apartment building.
Once again intent on avoiding lines, we headed out first thing one day to Casa Milà, an undulating building that is organic architecture with a capital O. I could have spent hours on the roof, with its chimneys out of a "Star Wars" set and its spectacular view of Sagrada Familia. But time was the one thing we didn't have — except for a quick stop at the gift shop, which is the place to get stylish souvenirs.
I wanted to do something a little offbeat on this trip, so we headed one morning, by subway, bus and, finally, a charming old funicular, to the retro Tibidabo amusement park on a mountain overlooking Barcelona. It even has had its Hollywood moment, in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
You haven't lived until you've taken a ride in a bright red 84-year-old plane suspended from a somewhat antique-looking rod and flown a few circuits high above the city. (A mist came in while we there, but on a clear day you can see straight to the Mediterranean.)
We kept the retro vibe going with lunch in the village-y Gràcia neighborhood below, at the pop-art dream called Flash Flash. It's a '70s institution serving up classic Spanish tortillas, surrounded by mod photos of the model wife of the owner. Everything is in black and white (including the waiters' clothes), with the red salt shakers and the red kitchen door the only splashes of color.
But we didn't forget the more distant past and spent one of our mornings walking the tiny back streets of the old Gotico and Born districts. We snapped up souvenirs at the legendary espadrille maker La Manual Arpargatera, where a (newly trendy) basic espadrille sets you back only 10 euros, or a little more than $12, and at the foodie destination Formatgeria la Seu, where a lovely Scottish woman sells local cheeses.
But there was no time for dallying. We had another show to get to.
At the second concert, we felt like the Stone Roses' cool crowd, comparing the audience and nodding to one another when the band sang a song that was different from the previous night's set.
We had met some sweet newlyweds the night before who had returned from their honeymoon in Cape Verde off West Africa, dropped their bags at home in northern England and flown straight to Barcelona for the show. The second night's crowd seemed just as committed, starting up with Roses-related football chants before the concert began.
My adrenaline level had dropped several notches from the first night, and the band seemed more relaxed too, less jittery at the start, sure that it was indeed adored.
After the show, our ears still muffled from standing a few feet from an enormous speaker, we sat on the terrace of our apartment having a last glass of very nice Spanish Priorat wine. We watched stars disappear behind clouds and the twinkling lights of a city that was very much alive, and we agreed that it had all been worth it.
Maybe we were thinking a bit differently when we had to head, groggily, to the airport a few hours later as people in late-night Barcelona were just returning home.
But in retrospect, I don't think it was crazy. It was genius, and I'd do it all again. And a note to the Stone Roses: Schedule a U.S. tour. We'll be there.