One of the more obvious perks of being a full time student compared to being in fulltime work is, of course, the holidays! Travel is my passion, so any short holiday that I get I take the opportunity to scrape some pennies together and go somewhere. On this occasion my family were keen to come too, so me, my partner, mum, dad & brother ended up heading to Barcelona for a long weekend.
I’ve never been to Barcelona before and it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. As a city break I would thoroughly recommend it although, to be honest, two nights wasn’t enough in my opinion. Due to its harbour location and the proximity of many lovely beaches to the city I would like to go again and actually go for a full length holiday. I think it’s the sort of place you could get a good balance of city sight-seeing and relaxed beaching over a week’s trip.
Having said that I loved to city itself. I have never really been that interested in ‘buildings’ or architecture, but the Antonio Gaudi buildings that are scattered through the city were truly stunning and even I could spend hours looking at them. His work is so interesting because it looks like a cross between a Dr Seuss illustration and a set from a Tim Burton movie. Considering he lived 100 years ago it’s hard to imagine how ‘before it’s time’ his structures would have been in his lifetime!
Unfortunately, it was torrential rain for our first day of sightseeing! We managed the ‘Sagreda Familia’; the enormous Gaudi cathedral which is an amazing architectural feat and still not completed to this day, Gaudi’s ‘Park Guell’; an elegant park full of Gaudi’s stunning mosaic sculptures and the slightly less cultural but none the less important ‘NeuCamp’; the famous home pitch of Barca football club! All of this in the soaking wet resulted in some soggy raincoats and cold feet (I only took flip-flops!!!) but still an amazing day. The following day we were lucky and had a lovely sunny day. We went up to the MNAC museum to see the amazing view of Barcelona city and went to visit another of Gaudi’s buildings ‘La Casa Mila Pedrera’ which in its day was an enormous house designed by Gaudi for a rich family living in Barcelona and is now open to the public. Its name means ‘The Stone Quarry’ which has stuck from when it was built the family’s neighbours hated the building and called it that because they thought it looked like an ugly pile of rocks!
For anyone thinking of or planning to visit Barcelona my top travel tips are:
1. Use the open top tourist bus! A bit cringy for me as I usually like to walk everywhere and it is quite pricy however, Barcelona is very spread out and it would take hours to walk around all the sights! Particularly if you want to get out to the Park Guell, the football stadium and any of the beaches or harbour then the bus tour is a good deal. It includes 3 routes and covers everything and you can by multi day tickets too.
2. Sagreda Familia (pictured above) – and get there early! My one regret of the trip, we didn’t arrive until lunchtime and all the tickets to go inside were sold out. Even if you don’t want to pay the steep €15 entry fee I would recommend getting there early so you can get a picture outside without thousands of selfie sticks in it.
3. The view from the MNAC museum (pictured above). A stop on the bus ‘red route’ we actually got off to see the museum and didn’t realise it had a beautiful view over all of the city. A very good picture!
4. Don’t eat on La Ramblas! The main strip of markets, bars and restaurant with street entertainers and lots of hawkers! Fun and a good atmosphere for walking around at night and having a cocktail not the food = overpriced and yuk.
5. Eat at La Rosal 34. Seriously, if you do one thing – go here! We were recommended this restaurant by our hotel and you do need google maps to find it as it is out of the way BUT literally one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It has a Michelin star (first time I’ve eaten in a place that has one!) and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a lovely traditional restaurant serving tapas and main meals and very yummy. We went there two out of our three evenings! Also not a tourist insight (apart from us).
Have you been to Barcelona?