After a few days in Berlin, which felt pretty cold, it was great to be heading to warmer climes. It was an early start. I am not a morning person and do not function before breakfast so bumbled through security and forgot to take my belt off (despite being a frequent traveler – I know!) so had to go through the rigmarole of having my whole body scanned by the little manual scanner, despite offering to take my belt off and walk through the gate again.
The second we landed I knew Barcelona was a good choice – it was sunny and not raining. Having Lucy about and her knowledge from living in the city made things nice and easy. Knowing immediately how the transport system worked and what station to change at to get the right metro line etc was great. It was a little early to book into the apartment so we had our first tapas at a little bar round the corner. I love tapas.
I read a lot about AirBnB in the last few months and had been desperate to give it a go. The basic concept is that it is a social network where anyone who has a spare room, or apartment etc offers it up for a set price to people who are visiting. This can provide them with a great income as short lets charge more per night than renting out on longer contracts. Anyhow we found a cool studio apartment right in the Raval just off Las Ramblas which was cheap and looked great. It was perfect for what we wanted. I much prefer apartments to hotels as they feel more homely and more relaxing so this worked for me.
Barcelona has a lot to see if you have not been before. The first day we wandered down Las Ramblas, round the marina, along the beach where we chilled and had a couple of beers. As we got peckish we carried on walking up to Port Olimpic and had dinner. On the way back we stopped at Xampaneria in Barceloneta. This is a great quirky little bar where they serve glasses of cava for a euro, but you need to order food as you go. It is mostly greasy pork based stuff like ham, sausages, chorizo and lomo – but it tastes good. After the early start, a few beers on the beach, a bottle of wine with dinner, and some cava, we were feeling pretty tipsy so headed back to the apartment to chill.
The Raval is noisy in the morning. Shop shutters, builders and general city centre hustle and bustle soon wakes you up. We had a lot of ground to cover. First stop was a lil shop to get supplies then on to Parc Guell. This is a mad public park designed by Gaudi. We walked around and chilled on a bench near the top where we had some bread and chorizo we bought earlier. After lunch we walked down the hill to Sagrada Familia. This is another of Gaudi’s masterpieces however this one is not finished yet despite being under construction for over 120 years. It looks impressive non the less. Both Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia were amazing, but the experience is somewhat tainted by the hordes of tourists and visiting school kids. I guess this goes for most of the worlds major attractions though.
By this point it was early afternoon and our feet were pretty sore. The walking tour in Berlin on the Sunday, followed by our sea front walk on the Monday and then the trek to Parc Guell and down to Gracia added up to a whole lot of miles. We bought some fruit in the market, and went home. The markets were amazing and Barcelona must be well into eating offal given the amount on offer.
That evening we grabbed the ping pong bats, some beer, sangria and snacks and headed up to Montjuic and the Olympic village. The whole area is spectacular. The views are amazing. After a beer and watching the sunset we found a ping pong table and played. I love how both Berlin and Barcelona have these scattered round the city. As it got later we got hungry again so headed down the hill and down Paral.lel to Poble Sec where we found a busy little tapas bar. We feasted. It was cheap though. It is mad how once you are off the tourist track everything halves in price.
The next day was all about relaxing. It was the hottest day yet, so we headed out to a park and chilled in the sun. It was so nice to just relax outside and be warm. A friend of Lucy’s joined us in the sun for a bit – he had just been on holiday to Gran Canaria where I grew up. It is such a small world. This park also had ping pong tables so we had a few games there too. Seeing as it was our last night in Barcelona we figured we should go out for some drinks so agreed to meet later at the Xampaneria we had been at the first night seeing as it is such a great place. We headed home via an amazing bakery which had all manner of treats in it.
A few glasses of cava and various greasy snacks later we were feeling pretty merry. Another of Lucy’s friends was going to meet us so we went off to find her, then off for mojitos. After that we moved on again to another bar. All the bars were really cool looking places in old buildings. By the time we got back to the apartment we were pretty inebriated.
The following morning was not so pleasant. The shop shutters/builders/hustle and bustle was pretty painful. After a shower we headed out for breakfast. We stopped at a nice little cafe in Gracia and had a sandwich and some coffee – this turned out to be the most expensive sandwich and coffee I have ever come across costing as much as the entire meal we had a couple of days earlier. We wandered through the maze of streets in the gothic area before meeting back up with Lucy’s friend Marco. He then made the whole day better by taking us to the sushi restaurant he worked at. The food was amazing, and the perfect hangover cure.
After lunch there was not a whole lot of time left before we had to go grab our luggage and head to the airport to catch a flight back to the UK where we would be staying in the third B of our trip – Brighton. This was the least disappointing easyjet flight except for last minute, when they decided to change which terminal they were landing in, meaning everyone who had someone to meet them had to scramble and inform them of the change.