18 Feb 2019

Barcelona, Spain (September 2018)

I didn’t want to go to Barcelona. I wanted to go to Lisbon. Barcelona sounded big and loud and busy, but it was a lot cheaper than Lisbon for the dates we wanted to go. So we were going to Barcelona.

To combat the mild fear I had of Barcelona being Too Much, I did next to no research. I know. Me. Not researching a new city to death. Unheard of. But it meant that I didn’t have a chance to be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to do, places to see, and food to eat. By the time we stepped foot outside of Barcelona airport and into the Spanish September sun… we could do anything with no expectation. 

Thankfully, transport from Barcelona airport to the city centre was beautifully slick and easy. We jumped on the Aerobús (€5.90 each) which departs every five minutes, and were at Plaça Catalunya within half an hour. Our hotel, Hotel Curious, was a 10 minute walk down La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona. It couldn’t have been easier.

Hotel Curious was gorgeous. Run by a family, they treated you as part of it. Their hotel was a tiny, colourful, tasty lil bolthole perfect as a base for Barca. Highly recommend. 

We headed for the beach as soon as we dumped our stuff. I needed sand and sangria, stat. We stopped by the harbour for a jug of the stuff and people-watched. The diversity of Barcelona was blissful. There were people from all backgrounds, in all kinds of relationships, dressed in all styles and presenting as they pleased in groups or travelling solo. Barcelona was big but Barcelona was chill.

After walking for what felt like days, we found La Sagrada Familia. Although we weren’t fussed about going inside, we wanted to tick it off quickly in case we couldn’t see it again. Thankfully, we did on our last day. But that time we could actually take our time and take it all in.

That night, we went to Tabarlot for dinner. It wasn’t too far from our hotel and we got a free drink when mentioning Hotel Curious. If we’ve learnt anything from these travel blogs, it’s that if a restaurant has an offer with our hotel, I’m there. Give me my free welcome drink. Many thanks.

Patas bravas #1

The weather the next day was meant to be the sunniest of the week, so that was beach day. For an unholy amount of money (please don’t tell my dad), we hired two sunloungers and an umbrella, and spent the whole day on the beach. We read, we drank, we ate. I lost my bikini top in the sea. It was great.

It was also the National Day of Catalonia so we got a glimpse of the parades/protests. All peaceful, and full of families. It was great to see. 

A recommendation from a friend (the same friend who recommend Hergetova Cihelna, i.e. the most gorgeous restaurant in Prague, so I trust her deeply) saw us at Rebelot in La Barceloneta that evening. We sat outside in the square for tapas (duh) before wandering through the Gothic Quarter to try out the bars. We went to Sincopa and Avinya, but found a gem in La Burnessa. They had a whole board full of stellar cocktails, and we made friends with the barman who gave us free shots. We had a good time.

Patatas bravas #2

On Wednesday, we went to Camp Nou. As in, the football stadium. We walked for 45 minutes for a tour of the football stadium, on my birthday trip. I am a good girlfriend. It was actually quite cool. Ryan got his money’s worth and read e v e r y t h i n g and took photos of E V E R Y T H I N G, which actually gave me a nice chance to sit down. We didn’t walk back to the city centre. We got the metro.

On the way back to the hotel, we ducked into La Boqueria, the incredible market off La Rambla full of fruit, meats, cheeses, bars, chocolate, sweets... it was incredible. IncrEDIBLE, if you will.

I love a sky bar, so that evening we went to the top of Barceló Raval Hotel to their 360° bar. It wasn’t cheap but it was perfect for one drink watching the sunset… and by sunset, I mean watching the sun disappear and storm arrive…

As we wanted to watch the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc that night, we found a good looking tapas place in El Poble-Sec nearby for dinner. It was a good job we were nearby, because the heavens well and truly opened. It was hysterical, and the most ‘romcom set in a European city’ I’ve ever felt. We legged it, drenched, in our cute summer clothes through the city to the restaurant, ducking into shelters every 10 seconds to catch our breath from running and laughing. Sounds disgustingly cute, I know. 

Patatas bravas #3

After dinner in TAPS, the storm had passed and the air was so fresh. We made sure we got to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc in good time to get a good seat. The show was good, but it was nothing compared to the Magic Fountain on Margaret Island in Budapest. But they tried.

Our final full day in Barcelona was our Gaudí day. On our way to the metro, we passed Casa Batlló. You can spot a Gaudí building a mile off. They’re so fantastical and just don’t look real. We got off the metro at Lesseps (I think) and followed everyone up to Park Güell. And when I say up, I mean UP. It is one hell of a climb to the park so wear sensible shoes and bring lots of water. It’s a trial. Also, book your bloody tickets for the main bit of the park. You can walk around a lot of Park Güell freely, but if you want to see the actual Gaudí stuff (you do), you need to book a time slot. We had to buy a ticket for three hours’ time, and there aren’t that many cafes around. We ended up in a rubbish little cafe a fair walk from the park and did a lot of hanging around.

Casa Batlló

But the wait was worth it. Park Güell was beautiful. The photos do the talking.

We were exhausted after a day of walking and climbing and waiting, so we went for dinner in Miño, a restaurant next door to our hotel. This time, we didn’t have tapas. We had paella. I wasn’t a huge fan but it had to be done.

 Patatas bravas #4

For our final night, we had to go back to La Burnessa for more cocktails. We didn’t stay for too long as there was a British stag do in there who were obviously terrible people, so went to a pub near our hotel instead. By this point, I’d drunk a lot. I was tired drunk. It’s a wonder I wasn’t face first in my sangria. So as the night went on… I needed nuggets. And nuggets were had thanks to the McDonald’s down the road. God bless McDonald’s being literally everywhere. 

Arc de Trimof

Our flight on the Friday wasn’t until the evening, so we had most of the day to wander. We found the Arc de Triomf, and went back to La Sagrada Familia to take it all in for a few hours. We took photos from every angle and sat in the park, watching everyone else get their photos from every angle. 

If you want to go inside, book it way in advance. It is BUSY.

I never buy souvenirs or presents on holiday because I am my father’s daughter. My limit is a postcard for my nan and a magnet for the fridge. But I bought a cute lil Gaudí-style purse and Ryan bought a cute lil art print of Barcelona on La Rambla. The new dream is to have art prints of every shape and size from places we visit on a wall in the house we eventually buy. One day.

Casa Mila

After having something to eat outside Casa Mila, we reluctantly went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head back to the airport on the Aerobus.

I adored Barcelona with every fibre of my being. It taught me a lot about planning trips and calming the heck down. The food was incredible, the drinks were wonderful, the people were beautiful and the place is gorgeous. I’d go back again and again. 

Gràcies, Barca. Fins que ens trobem de nou.

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