There’s no two ways around it, Barcelona is awesome. I think there’s something here for everyone. If you’re a pro tourist, you can spend lots of money being shown around and taking in all the history you can handle. There’s bike tours whizzing past, rickshaws racing through courtyards and even segway tours for the lazy. If you’re more for soaking in the vibe of a place, you can pick an area and take a wander. Every corner you turn, will offer new experiences. Maybe get yourself to La Rambla as a starting point. This is the backbone of the city, a pedestrian motorway that runs right through the middle. See what takes your fancy as you wander up or down. If you like a style, quality, boutique, independent vibe – head towards the Gothic Quarter. You can spend a couple of days here, easily. Wind through the back roads and random alleys an immerse yourself in the mix of super modern culture with ancient buildings.
To top it off you will come across a cathedral that’s almost too much to take in. Make sure you walk all around the sides of the Cathedral. On the first day, we were a bit fatigued and made the mistake of seeing the front, saying ‘ah that’s nice’ and carrying on back towards the train. The next day we happened upon it again and took the time to look around, and we we’re amazed at how it branches off, and I still can’t work it all out in my head. I think we need to see it for a third day to piece it all together.
Take the time to go into the quirky shops and try and speak to people, you get that nice feeling that you sometimes find from independent shops, where people really care about what they’re doing, and you will take away some of their positive energy as a souvenir.
You pretty much have to go and see Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family). We didn’t go in because I have a great disliking for tourists. Despite being a tourist myself, I can’t stand them, and I find it massively inconvenient that all these people want to see these nice places too. Just seeing it from the outside was enough for me, but if you do want to go inside – book online before hand. Save yourself an hour standing in a queue with people wearing various designs of baseball caps and t-shirts from all the places they’ve queued in previously.
If you’re a bit more arty, you could head to Macba (Museum of Contempary Art) the abbreviation of Macba only really works if you write it the Spanish way. The surrounding area has a more studenty vibe, and I was introduced to concept of a street beer for 1 Euro. The night life around this part of town can be a little more on the adventurous side, but keep your wits about you and you will likely escape with just a minor shouting match, rather than full a full on bar brawl. Should you happen to get caught up in some funny business while holidaying in this area be wary of the mossos d’esquadra. They are the police force of Catalonia, and basically don’t f**k with them. Don’t worry though my dedicated followers (Mum) this isn’t based on any first hand experience.
On a lighter note, treat yourself to lunch at Vegetalia. Great food, big portions, quite cheap – I should do food reviews really. They have three restaurants spread across the city and we’ve eaten in two of them, and likely to hunt down the third for OCD reasons. Moving slowly towards trying to eat ethically makes eating out in restaurants harder. Without doing a great deal of online planning beforehand we have been known to struggle to find the really great places to eat, and spend an hour on the hunt while getting increasingly more HANGRY! If you’re going to spend money eating out though, I feel you should get your moneys worth. So many restaurants get away with either bad service, or disguising cheap food with a big price tag. Leaving eating ethically for another post, It’s important to be wise about where you food comes from. This is why Vegetalia was a great find, and we ate in their restaurants most days.
(Stealthy shot of an art class sat outside the restaurant in the courtyard area, sketching the cathedral.)
Near the Marina is one of the poshest post offices ever built. El edificio Correos, used to send post and telegraphs, built in 1927 by Catalan architect Josep Goday Casals. Outside the post office there was a cool little dog waiting patiently for his owner to send a parcel. It was very hard not to steal him.
We were staying in El Masnou campsite, to the north east of the main city along the coast. This was a really great little campsite, and a 5 minute walk from the nearest train station. (5 Euros for an adult day return to Place Catalunya – Barcelona) The pool was quite big, and the facilities were kept very clean. Bit of a bargain, they were offering 5 nights for 3, and they don’t mind a bit of cheeky bartering too. This worked out at 18 Euros per night, but be careful campsites often forget to remind you of the tax also needs to be added to the cost. I would highly recommend this site though, and there’s a good mix of age groups.
I would like to go back to Barcelona, but with a bit of spare cash. There’s some really great designers, bike shops, shows, and being able to indulge in some more of the luxuries would be fun, as with most big cities it’s nice to be able to splash the cash. Five days in the hustle and bustle and I’m glad to be off down the coast again to park up alongside the beach. Back to Cunit beach front to chill for a few days to decide where to go next. We would like to see Gibraltar, so we will likely aim for there and see where we get to.