Barcelona! From photographs you can tell this is a place of light, colour and unconventional architectural styles. A great place to visit if you love all of the above. I visited a few years ago in March which meant most days the weather was warm and comfortable (probably good as we avoided the heat!) Again, being the super tourist I am, I wanted to visit all of the famed sights. Me and Mr G used the City Sightseeing bus (I feel like we should hold season passes) to get to know the ins and outs of this historic place. This allowed us to go to areas we couldn’t have gone on foot- i.e. their olympic stadium! We used this for the first 2 days to get to grips with the place then treked the last 3 days on foot.
Park Guell, Casa Battlo, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia are not to be missed. Gaudi had said ‘the straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God’ and you see his passion for keeping to this phrase through his innovative work. He had taken his inspiration from nature, and believed it was more natural and fluid to follow these techniques. It is extremely refreshing to see this colourful work in comparison to the block like buildings so many cities are filled of. I spent about half a day in each attraction except for Sagrada familia which took 2 hours… I have to admit you don’t need as long as this but I got distracted with the exhibition showing the building of this work.
TIP: You can prebook Sagrada familia tickets online giving you an allotted time on a day of your choice, this saved me queuing 1 hour or being disappointed that I couldn’t go in (some people were turned away).
Camp Nou: For you football lovers like my husband, this seemed to be an epicentre of the sport. I have to admit as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy football even I was captivated by the relics and trophies of this stadium. You begin by walking through a ‘history of the stadium’ if you like, with trophies, photographs and old kit on display. You can then proceed on into the stadium which is HUGE! There are some cheesy photobooths along the way where you can stand in front of a green screen and have your favourite Barcelona player edited next to you. This of course does come with a fee. You can also hold the champions league trophy (again with a cost if you’d like a photo). After spending half a day exploring this stadium I felt I had got my 23 euros worth.
Placa Reial: A beautiful little square in the Barri Gotic, it’s located off La Rambla and hosts some of the cities most famous nightclubs including ‘Karma’. I did not visit these, instead I went during the day where it becomes a place to lunch and rest those tiring feet after walking the 1.2 Km down La Rambla. Go here if you wish to follow in the steps of the aristocracy of Aragon and the counts of Barcelona who all resigned here.
TIP: Looking for something to do on a night that isn’t clubbing? There are actually musical fountains in Plaça d’Espanya Thursday-Sunday, May to October beginning at 9pm with the last show at 11pm. Much like the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas.
Where to stay: In order to rest after a busy day exploring the cobbled streets of the city, I had chosen to stay on the Marina of Barcelona in a H10 hotel. I was recommended this place by a local tour company and was so pleased with the choice. In an area a lot less touristy then the centre, I met so many more locals than I could have imagined in the centre. Our hotel was near a school which meant we saw children walking home from there on an evening, and approximately a 5 minute walk to the beachfront. We were about a 2 minute walk to a shopping centre, with little supermarkets surrounding the area. We didn’t need this though as the hotel manager greeted us with prosecco and chocolate strawberries and reiterated that if we should need anything to call him. The hotel had a huge restaurant in, and an all you can eat breakfast which included hot food, cold, pastries, fruit, yoghurts, fresh coffee and fresh juice… there was too much choice if I dare say! To top it all off, the hotel had a rooftop pool and an underground spa!
The whole cost of our stay which was 4 nights was £345- an absolute bargain. Staying just a little out of the centre meant our money went much further. This did mean of course that you had further to walk into the city if you wished, but there were frequent buses or a taxi for approximately 3 euros. We found that our city sightseeing bus had a stop about 2 blocks away and often jumped on that to get into the centre.
The Three T’s: Tapas, Tortillas and Tinto de Verano.. I love spanish food and drink! I fortunately experienced only good food at good prices in Barcelona. Often just strolling into a cafe of the street I was on to find delicious tapas! One of the most famous tapas bars is located on Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes 25: Quimet i Quimet- this is a little more upmarket and pricey than what I was prepared to pay serving caviar and truffles…. I stuck to Catalan Classic: Roure on Carrer de Luís Antúnez 7. Go on a thursday lunch and you can sample another famous spanish dish: Paella for 12 euros.
Shopping: I’m not a massive lover of shopping in busy locations- but with extended shopping hours of 10am- 8:30pm I often found myself wandering into them. Don’t forget most shops have a ‘siesta’ at 2-4pm to keep cool during the hottest hours of the day, so be mindful of this when making an itinerary for the day. Luckily for me, someone has already listed the best shopping areas in Barcelona which you can find here.
Language: Go on I dare you:
Buenos días (bway-nohs dee-ahs)- Hello! / Good morning!
(Muchas) Gracias (moo-chahs) grah-see-ahs) –Thank you (very much).
Hablas inglés? (ah-blahs een-glehs)– Do you speak English?
Dónde está…? (dohn-deh eh-stah)– Where is…?
Adios! (Ad-ee-os)- Bye!
With that, I conclude my Barcelona beginners guide entry … for now! Who knows if I shall return to this, the world is a big place after all and I’m sure I’ll find more to say!
If you’re interested in reading more about other city breaks then please take a look at this post.