Accommodation | Stay in either Barri Gotic (the gother quarter / city) or La Barceloneta (beach)
Must Do | Sagrada Familia, anything else Gaudi, La Barceloneta beach-side drinks
Worthy to Note | Spend the dollars on a hop on and off pass – Barca is wide-spread and your feet will be thanking you, not to mention you get great views from the top of the bus.
Barcelona is the capital of cool… our first impressions however, not so much. We had a rocky start – think a flight, then bus trip, then metro ride, then a fair walk to our accommodation only to find it double booked. We managed to bunk in with friends that night sharing one pillow, one towel, in a place where the shower was off the kitchen and had only a beaded curtain for privacy… lucky we’re close friends! So we needed Barcelona to redeem herself – and redeem she did.
With new accommodation locked in the next morning, we set off for La Barceloneta. We walked past beach after beach to the marina, before settling on a patch of sand and enjoying some sunshine. I was in love with the cute beach-side shacks for dining, so we decided to hit up happy hour and watch the sunset.
The next day we bought a 2-day Barcelona City Tour hop on and off pass and decided on the green route. This took us back along the coastline before we hopped off at Sagrada Familia – if you don’t know of this place then Google it now! Antoni Gaudi’s pride and joy, the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and still isn’t complete. The ‘Nativity Scene’ facade reminded me of wet sand trickled over a sandcastle, it was so intricate. Once inside, we were blown away… this wasn’t your typical cathedral or basilica. Stained glass windows encased the room, allowing the light filtrations and colours to dance on sky-high white marble columns. We spent a decent couple of hours in awe. Somehow we finally left that beautiful basilica knowing we would never find another that could compare.
We continued our route and hopped off at Park Guell – another of Gaudi’s creations. The urban landscaped garden was filled with mosaic’d seating, kissing pigeons, and illegal traders hiding behind bushes with their bundles of goods as the police came around. It was quite a sight to see how quickly they scooped up their wares and hurried off, looking over their shoulder and trying to outsmart the cops, whilst gullible tourists took the rap for buying souvenirs.
Our final full day in Barca had us meeting up with friends for coffee at nearby markets, before trying out the orange route. It went past the port and up the other side of Barcelona and we were a little impressed at how large this city actually was. We got off at the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and used for the official opening of the German Section of the 1929 International Exposition. Its’ modernist and minimalist design was way ahead of its time. Nearby the Pavilion was MNAC – the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya – with its towering pillars and fountains. Our last stop was La Pedrera, yet another of Gaudi’s, which was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1984.
It’s ’bout that time when everyone starts thinking that travelling is a dream. That it is completely carefree and you have no responsibilities. Let me dispel that idea right now.
Myth: when travelling, fairies do your washing.
Fact: you have to find a laundromat and wait until it’s finished so that your clothes don’t get stolen.
So, this is how we spent our final afternoon in Barca. Fresh clothes packed, we headed to Maremagnum shopping centre for a portside feast of paella. It tasted alright, but I’m sure there’s better to be found.
Our Barcelona leg may have started badly, but it is one of the few places we truly want to return to. It’s city, beach, port… prettiness and grunginess… not to mention the desire to see Sagrada Familia in all its glory finished one day. Yes, Barca certainly did redeem herself.