My third destination on this trip was Barcelona. This would be the first destination where I would stay for more than a day or two. Since January there is one TGV train which takes you from Paris to Barcelona in 6.5 hours. The journey to Barcelona went well. I left for Gare de Lyon well on time, had some lunch and got on the train only to arrive in a city 1500 km from home in the early evening. The train takes you through some lovely little towns on the Mediterranean Sea as well as through the Pyrenees. So the journey itself was also very entertaining what with all the beautiful landscape and all.
I arrived in Barcelona and immediately set out for my hotel. It was a 20 min walk from Barcelona Sants station and the most basic hotel I stayed in during my trip. Hotel Climent provided clean rooms as an affordable price, but the decor was a bit hospital like. I didn’t mind as I knew I’d be out and about most of the time anyway. After checking in I set off to find a restaurant to grab something to eat. I walked to Place Espanya (1st picture) and walked straight into the Gay Pride and the Magic Fountain (Picture 2). The area was dominated by small supermarkets and restaurants. I ended up finding Pura Brasa and met two girls from Brazil and ended up hanging out till closing time.
My first full day in the city meant lots of walking. I took a subway to the old town El Gótic where the streets are lined with tall buildings where all the balconies are filled with laundry and whatever possessions people seem fit to store on a balcony. I walked toward Parc de la Ciutadella. Here you can find tons of palm trees and this massive fountain which is listed on the World Heritage list. The dragons in the front were designed by Anton Gaudí. After that I walked towards the harbor, found a shopping mall where they had a beauty store called Primor which sold The Balm as well as Flormar and Kiko stores. After a stroll through the harbor I walked along La Rambla, had lunch at Placa Reial and then found myself finding the old cathedral.
The cathedral was built in 1290 and was expanded over the years. In the courtyard was a flock of geese making a racket and next to the church you’ll find some remnants of a Roman aquaduct. I again walked through El Gótic, but this time my destination was the beach. I sat there, people watching and listening to some street musicians for a bit. Had a delicious burger and a peach bramble cocktail at one of the restaurants in the area and walked back to my hotel with this sunset to keep me company:
After all that walking I needed to give myself some rest so I slept in and set out for Sagrada Familia in the early afternoon. I found out that booking tickets in advance is recommended. So I found the Mac Donald’s across the street which had free Wifi. Got tickets, had a late lunch and 30 minutes later I was grated entrance to the thing that was quite possibly the most impressive building I saw during this trip.
Sagrada Familia was the ONLY sight that was on my ‘to do’ list for the entire trip and I certainly didn’t regret it. Despite the long lines and it being busy, it was well worth it. Even though the building seems to consist of architecture that doesn’t go together it somehow works. My favorite part? The massive glass stained windows which cast the most beautiful light play along the sides of the church.
My next stop was Parc Güell. I knew it had to do with Gaudí, but other than that I didn’t know much. The park is a little difficult to get to, but I got off at the subway stop that seemed closest and just walked. After walking around for 2+ hours I found out I had started at the wrong end and that to get tickets would mean I’d have to wait for that amount of time to see the monumental part of the park. So I didn’t end up doing that, just snapping a few pictures from what I could see from the sidelines. I did walk around the remainder of the park, saw live cactai and aloe vera plants, had a great view over the city AND visited Anton Gaudí’s house.
On my final day in Barcelona I went on a bike tour through the city with a Dutch run company called Budget Bikes. I had initially wanted to take the tour the first day I was there, but that being a Saturday, they were fully booked so I decided to do it later. We visited mostly places I had already been to, but during the tour I finally found out what some of the buildings I took pictures of were for. We also got a great view of the beach, stopped at an old bull fighting arena and the Arc de Triomph. To me it was well worth my money and it was nice to get the stories with the sights.
After sitting in a frozen yoghurt/ coffee place for the rest of the afternoon, I headed back to my hotel. But not before I had a stop at Place Espanya. There is a shopping mall there and I checked that out. The top ring is a viewing deck lined with restaurants and so I had dinner with this magnificent view of Mont Juïc. After dinner I found an organic super market in the basement of the mall and decided to stock up on some snacks and breakfast for the next day. I was heading to Milan and that would mean a long stretch to travel: 10+ hours at least. And with my luck, it of course took longer. How much longer? You’ll read that tomorrow when I’ll be entailing my Italian adventures for you.
What places would you like to visit?