"Glory is light, light is joy and joy is happiness of the spirit" - Antoni Gaudi
What a treat! I had three day’s to explore somewhere new and Barcelona was an excellent choice. A vibrant city with countless meandering streets to wandering, lots of historical sites to see and a beach!
I arrived in the afternoon, checked into my accommodation (AirBnB) and headed straight for the beach. Walking down La Rambla towards the marina and eventually finding my way to Barcelona beach. PACKED with people (it was Saturday) the beach stretches for what seems like miles of white sand. I soaked up some sun and continued back towards the city getting acquainted with the areas and where I was staying in relation.
Not wanting to waste any time I got up early Sunday morning. Which was a mistake. Unless you’re satisfied with a croissant and a coffee, nothing opens for breakfast before 10 or 11am.
First up the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), with plans to get an early lunch before continuing to La Sagrada Familia. A medieval setting, the Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city of Barcelona. Cathedrals and courtyards are nestled within the narrow winding walkways and lined with cafes. By far my favorite area to explore!
Up next La Sagrada Familia! As recommended, I booked my ticket online and was happy I did. As soon as you arrive near the cathedral tourist flood the streets. When you book online you choose a time to enter, what kind of tour you would like (audio or group) and whether or not you’d like to go up one of the towers. I chose to do the audio tour and would have booked a tower trip but they were all sold out. Only 6 people per hour get to go up via elevator so book in advance if you’re interested! The audio tour is straightforward and allows you to explore on your own time.
Although the outside of cathedral is the obvious and initial attraction the inside is equally mind-blowing. Still under construction 100+ years later, Antoni Gaudi designed every aspect to the minute detail leaving behind specific guidelines when he passed on. One of my favorites being the tree like pillars that ascend up to 200ft at the center vault. Gaudi was known to have studied nature and use it as a key influence in a lot of his work.
I continued up the hill towards Park Guell, another Antoni Gaudi masterpiece. Over looking Barcelona, Park Guell was originally to be a quality-housing site but has since been transformed into a public garden of sorts and tourist destination. Again, I booked online and skipped the ticket lines upon arrival. You can explore a large portion of the park without paying to enter main area. If you’re just looking to get the panoramic views of the city there’s no need to pay at all!
A long day ended with a loooooong walk back to the place where I was staying. Yes I walked back. I also walked there. I walked all day, probably close to 20km. I would have preferred to jump on one of the red ‘Viu Bicing’ bicycles you see through out the city but apparently (after several attempts) only registered citizens of Barcelona can use them. But I enjoyed the exercise and seeing so much of the city!
** I didn’t have time but the Picasso Museum is free after 3pm on Sunday’s
Tired from my eventful day before I decided to enjoy a day less planned. I rented a bike (finally) from one of the many tourist friendly rentals and biked aimlessly through the streets of BCN. Biking is most definitely the way to go! Had I known this earlier I would have rented a one for the full 3 days. I spent some time back at the beach (FYI if you’re looking to rent a beach chair for the day they fill up by 10 or 11am), and I did make my way to Park Montjuic but by 5:30pm couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way up the hill…
Finally I found the perfect café. Located on the outskirts of the Raval area, Federal Café offers a great selection of breakfast (among other things) and my favorite: avocado smash on rye toast with a poached egg. Another great spot for lunch is the Cosmo café situated right by Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona’s city center. This is also the location where you would find the Aerobus, an easily accessible airport shuttle. This express bus takes you to and from the airport (make sure you know which terminal you’re going to: T1 or T2) and only costs 5.90€ each way. I thoroughly enjoy my time in Barcelona and look forward to returning to Spain!
→ Sea you later x