Monday, 24 June 2013

Barcelona, How Can I Forget?

Hola senors and senoritas - on a much more sunny, exciting and, well, sangria-fuelled note than my Bringing Back Britain posts, Helena and I recently returned from the bonny Barcelona after a quick 5 day break departing from Southend airport early on Monday morning with trusty (sl)easyjet. Honestly I needed just a little bit of time to travel a bit more, but I feel like Barcelona really was the end of this year's travelling! Gosh that's a Big Thing for me but I still have my home-based adventures as my previous posts showed.

Hello Barcelona, I have arrived.
We stayed near the University, just 4 metro stops from the main station and very near Las Ramblas, many beautiful parks and many tasty restuarants. I can't count the amount of times I have said this about a place, but I fell for Barcelona hard and fast. No other city has had such a chilled and welcoming atmosphere. Maybe it was the parakeets that chirped outside our window in the mornings, or the charming noise that is Spanish (or was it Catalonian?) being gabbled on the streets. Nothing had prepared me for the sunshine and smiling, tanned faces of Barcelona harbour, or the beaches just half an hour from the city, or the good, good food!

I didn't know what to expect but Barcelona's charm and street escalators was definitely not it. 

Sagrada Familia!
...and  the interior.

For me, the highlights were Sagrada Familia (despite the hour long queue) as the stained glass windows and Gaudi architecture really did take my breath away. I also held my breath and survived the cable car up to Mont Juec which, when armed with a picnic and minimal sense of direction, made for an interesting last afternoon. Gaudi's park too was fantastic (I may have had a power nap on the world's longest beach) and the Magic Musical Fountain at the bottom of the MNAC made for a twee, colourful, and Top Tourist Trap for our final evening. 

Thoroughly enjoying the bench.
Conquering the Mont Juec castle.
Showing her skills at the open (and free!) Olympic stadium.

As with all of my trips, I'd like to give my most succinct and concise, 'dos and don'ts' of Barcelona:

avoid dinner by the seafront if you're on a budget - we struggled to find a cheap place to eat on the beach.

take a day out of town to one of the more beautiful, quiet beaches just 30 minutes away from the city. Our day outside of town was well worth the €7.30 and extreme sunburn.

Do queue from the tourist spots. I would recommend this in very few cities but I fell in love with the cathedrals, parks and museums here. 

Don't be afraid to try out your Spanish. Or English. Don't be afraid to be friendly. 

Do invest in an appropriate number-of-days public transport card! I cannot stress this enough - Helena and I constantly thanked our lucky stars that, for near €30, we had unlimited transport on the metro which was a lifesaver. 

I am already aching to go back and would recommend this city (despite its pick-pocketing record which, we were not party to..) to anyone. Just chill out. Relax. Have some paella. And was the world go past on even the quietest streets.

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