Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination for people across the world. Particularly it is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, honestly I didn’t have a clue who he was before we went, time to Google.
Situated in the Catalonia area in Spain, it’s easy to get to Barcelona. We flew there a few days before, spent 5 days in France and got the train back to Barcelona again for a 2 day visit. We have exactly 48 hours there. Time to get planning. We made a list of a few things we wanted to see and started a plan.
When we arrived at the train station, I opened Uber to find that it’s not available in Barcelona. What no Uber, how would we get round. Straight out to queue for a taxi and with more than 100 people waiting I. The blistering heat we knew it would be a long wait. I spotted an information desk and walked over, there was a bus tour which went straight past our hotel. Why not, find out more about the city for the same price as a taxi over the 2 days we were there. €39 each, sign me up. I always go away and do a bus tour, I’ve turned into my granny it would seem. But a few years ago Chris and I were travelling to Oxford, a city steeped in historical landmarks so a bus tour became the easiest way to get around and find out more. Since then, we’ve just always done it. For a city like Barcelona, a bus tour is essential just because it’s so big and taking taxis everywhere really wouldn’t be that cost effective. There are 3 different routes of the city so it well worth the money with buses coming to stops every few minutes. This way you get to take in the most of Barcelona and hop on and off for the spots you really want to see. We started sightseeing before we had even arrived at the hotel – result!
We got off at the end of Las Ramblas and made our way to our hotel. Las Ramblas is a long meandering street with connects the port with the city centre. We got checked in, checked out the room, freshened up and then began to walk further up Las Ramblas to get on the next stop in the tour. It was extremely unfortunate that just over one week before we arrived a terrible terrorist attack happened on that very street with people killed and injured. I don’t really know what we expected, less people, quieter streets but it was the exact opposite, it was hard to believe such a horrible act had happened. There was hustle and bustle and the sellers on that street kept their shop doors open with many giving away free candles to add the the memorial which continued to grow at pace every day. We stopped at each of the memorial sites on our way to the Plaça de Catalunya to get on the next stop and travel around some more.
As you travel around the city on the bus you will hear Gaudi mention a lot as his works become very familiar after a while, like mosaic tiles. We then journeyed to Park Guerl another one of Gaudis works to be told we couldn’t get in until 6pm. We spent a while walking around the Park Guell and think goodness for the people selling iced water, after walking up a fairly steep hill, to find out we were going in the wrong direction and then having to walk up another steep hill to get to the park we were exhausted by the time we got there. We had a beautiful walk about the part of the park that you don’t need a ticket for. There were buskers and painters around with lots to see. Normally a walk like that wouldn’t seem at all strenuous but in the searing heat, it seemed almost impossible. We stopped for lunch just outside the park, tapas as always and a good drink of water to hydrate before heading on again. A good spray of deodorant wouldn’t have gone a miss then either!! The one stop I really wanted to make was the Sagrada Familia, we got back on the bus and made our way there to find that the next available time for 6pm, we were told to book online for the following day. Everything was booking up so fast, especially because it was the weekend. In hindsight, I wish we had booked online for Saturday but we didn’t know what time we would get there but my advice, estimate a time and work around that. We wasted most of Saturday afternoon trying to get into places which were fully booked. We got back on the bus to get back to the centre and came across Barcelona Football Club. We got off the bus to have a look and to Chris’ delight we were able to go in straight away. It would have been a waste of an afternoon if we didn’t go in and do some sightseeing so I agreed. Not footballs biggest fan I thought I would go anyway and see what it’s like. We began by walking around and reading the history of the club, honestly I was shocked how impressed I was. When they say that it is more than just a club they really mean it, it was really interesting and the stadium itself is breath taking. It’s safe to say that if I hear any news about Barcelona Football my ears may just prick up, I’m emotionally invested now, you can only imagine my interest in transfer deadline day…like what is that about! We left and missed the last bus back so we got a taxi. It’s easy to hail a cab in Barcelona, if the green light is on, just hop in.
We got as close back to our hotel as possible as there was a peaceful protest. The huge number of people who attended with flowers, candles and signs was truly astonishing. It’s amazing to see how people come together over such sadness and show such strength. They walked up and down Las Ramblas and within minutes the memorials grew phenomenally. It was amazing to see and something we will not forgot. We walked back to our hotel and watched the goings on from our balcony while we got ready for the evening and booked our tickets for the next day.
We headed to the Barcelona Square for drinks and dinner, no surprises for guessing we ordered tapas and paella from Ocaña. Truly delicious all washed down with a few glasses sangria. We walked up Las Ramblas to see what else was going on, we stopped along the way for a few glasses of wine (NOTE: why does rosè taste so much better on holiday!). We called it a night and wandered back to the hotel.
We got up on Sunday morning had breakfast and got on the road. I imagined we would have got up earlier but I think the rosé wine had taken a much greater toll. We walked around the port and then continued the bus tour to the Gothic Quarter before making our way to Sagrada Familia for the tour we booked.
We booked it for 3pm which allowed us to go up the façade 15 minutes later. We went up the Nativity Façade rather than the Passion Façade. Nativity isn’t as popular as the Passion Façade is much higher so we took what was available. The views from the bridge between the Façade is amazing, we seen the whole east side of the city. The bridge isn’t that wide and if there are a few people on it there is just about room to squeeze past them. The walk down is less than desirable. The narrow spiral staircase is one to walk slowly down, especially if you look down the middle and see just how far there is until the bottom, as you look down you’ll notice it looks like a shell, the whole way to the bottom. I’m not the greatest fan of heights and if you’re the same hang on tight to the railing. We then collected the audio guides and went around the Cathedral, to say it’s impressive would be an understatement. It’s difficult to comprehend Gaudi’s vision for this incredible building as the amount of detail couldn’t be completely covered in one tour. The pillars inside are like a forest, the stain glass windows are cooler colours on the side of sun rise as this cooler in the morning and the sun set has warmer colours. Whether you are religious or not this is definitely worth a visit, it was my favourite spot on our tour.
After we walked back into the town for dinner and drinks. We went to Rossini for dinner, give it a try, their tapas were much better and the paella was to die for. Earlier night for us tonight after a walk home and then off to bed to catch the early flight in the morning.
We both said that we would definitely visit again there was so much we didn’t see and only a 2 hour flight from Belfast so perfect for a weekend city break. There is an endless amount to see and just walked through the streets of Barcelona taking in the atmosphere is amazing.
So where is our next destination? Any recommendations?
Lashings of Love,