On a recent trip to Barcelona, I rediscovered a cardinal rule of travel: no matter how little time you have in a new place, it pays to catch your breath. I walked all over the city to keep up with an ambitious itinerary, visiting hotels, and, of course, paying my respects to the medieval streets of the Barri Gotic, the lively fruit and meat vendors at the Mercat de la Boqueria--even the dreamlike interiors of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.

One late afternoon on Montjuic hill, behind the Joan Miro Foundation, I cooled my heels on the ledge of a stone stairway overlooking the city, wondering how I’d muster the energy to reach the next stop on my list. And then out of nowhere, a tangerine-colored sky emerged behind the domes and spires of the Palau Nacional, and I simply had to linger until the sun dipped below the Catalonian hills. The rest of Barcelona would have to wait.

Jennifer Flowers is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.