OLA from Barcelona, Spain! It was a rough ride to get here- we had a slight hiccup on our Vueling flight. Apparently there was no one to unload our luggage from the plane, therefore had to hang out at the airport for 4 hours ‘til the emergency crew got there and unloaded ALL THE PLANES BEFORE OURS. I was at the point where I would have jumped in MYSELF and started unloaded the plane, free of charge!! So much for the hotel room I booked for that night- our plane landed in Barcelona from Lisbon at midnight and the time my head hit the pillow it was 4am. I was fuming, but everything can’t work out perfectly, can it? It cost us some serious fatigue the next day, downing non-stop coffee and red bull but we had reservations through out the city so no time for slacking!
If you are coming from the airport and are staying at a hotel along the metro line or close to Place Catalunya, there is a 5 euro shuttle that runs to and from the airport-this is the cheapest option, if you are on a budget!
First things first: transportation. I booked a hotel that was on the subway line so we could easily get around the city <Since it is MASSIVE> Depending on how long you are here, and how far you plan to venture, you may want to get the T10 pass for 10 euro. It is a 10 ride card and you are able to go anywhere in the city center. The city is zoned, so the further you venture, the more expensive the card. Over all it was a pretty good deal for what we were looking for- and the city center is huge.
A tip I will give if you are looking to visit La Sagrada Familia or Parc Guell is to PLAN AHEAD! I got that tip from a friend, and thank god! She told me that these two attractions get very busy especially in the spring/summer months so to go online and book your tickets before you go. I booked mine about 2 weeks ahead of time, which may be a little over-kill but I chose the times I wanted to go and they sent me a confirmation. I printed them off and basically strolled right in, getting dagger eyes from everyone in line-sorry not sorry!!!
SO we managed to sneak in about 3 hours of sleep after the luggage ordeal and had no choice but to suck it up and set the alarm for 9am since we had an 11am reso at Parc Guell and it looked far away on the metro map! If you are taking the metro you get off at the “Lesseps” stop on the green line, then be prepared for a 20 minute walk/hike UP hill-wear your workout clothes-if it’s a hot day you will be sweatin’ buckets! The uphill hike is all worth it when you see the view from the top! I really liked the park-it was a little busy for my likings but if you go earlier you will get to enjoy it without the congestion. We spent about 2 hours here, you could spend longer, but I don’t like to loiter around and I had lots to see! Next stop was Sagrada Familia! We hopped back on the metro and took it to the Sagrada Familia stop, which was cool when you exit. You don’t expect the church to be RIGHT there! Again, we got the death stare as we strolled into the church, bypassing the chaotic lineup. This church was UN REAL. I have been to many churches in my day but this one takes the cake. Everything about the architecture, the colors were amazing-definitely a must see if heading to Barcelona! Those were the 2 main sites I was interested in pre-booking, so we now had the remainder of the day to wander. If you are the type of person who likes to take your time, these two things may be a full day.
From the church we headed down the streets and walked for about 30-40 minutes taking in the Spanish culture ‘til we reached Place Catalunya. This is when my anxiety levels hit an all time high. This metro stop seemed to be the main major hub of the city and there were thousands of people, like I mean SWARMS of people everywhere!! Not only were there tons of people, but there were SO MANY stores, restaurants and bars I didn’t even know what to do with myself! I was so overwhelmed, I wanted to go in every store, eat at every restaurant but there was no time!! I have never heard myself say there was a place with too many stores, but it became a reality this trip. I will never have time to purchase enough, nor is my luggage large enough (nor is my bank account full enough!!) After I tried to calm my nerves, we continued along, checking out more of gaudi’s buildings <Casa Batllo, Casa Calvet and La Pedrera on Passeig da Gracia> If you are looking for souvenirs and some cheesy photo ops, head over to Las Ramblas. I did get warned about pickpockets especially here, however I clutch my purse so tight, and no pick pocket stands a chance with me.
Are you hungry yet? Check your watch; hope you had a late lunch! If it’s anytime before 10pm get ready to starve. I heard that people ate late here but like, come ONNNN! We started our quest for dinner at 5pm and literally wandered ‘til 730 until we found something that was even open. Okay, I get that 5pm is an early dinner but you can always find something that’s OPEN at that hour! By 730 I was getting hangry, so we ended up eating at the first place we found that was open before I started eating my own arm. After dinner we were so exhausted from the lack of sleep and the heat, we decided to hit the hay early, wanted to have some energy for the next day!
Day two: Beach day! I needed some good tanning time/relaxation! We took the metro to the Arc De Triomf metro stop, so we could snap some pics of it, then walked all the way down to Barcelona Beach! I loved the beach area, lots of places to eat and drink however the beach was packed! We got there around 11; good luck finding a spot for your towel at 2pm on a Saturday! The water was great, the sand was white, and I like to think that Barcelona is a mix between NYC and Miami. <Except for all the topless girls! Ladies if you are going with your boyfriends, be sure his eyes will be wandering behind those sunglasses!> If your looking for a break from the beach, check out the shops throughout the Gothic Quarter, where awesome architecture meets great shopping! This is the center of the old city of Barcelona and it stretched from Las Ramblas to Via Laietana and from the beach to Ronda de Sant Pere. You will get lost within these streets, but hey there are worse places to be! While your lost, make sure to take lots of pics and grab some tapas (because you never know when you will be able to eat dinner!) Some of the sites within the Gothic Quarter include: City Hall, numerous churches including Santa Maria del Pi and Sants Just I Pastor.
When you exit the labyrinth of the Gothic Quarter, you will enter my favorite shopping area. If you LOVE to shop, as I do, you will LOOOOVE Barcelona (once you get past the anxiety!) Barcelona offers around 35,000 shops and has a 5km shopping line (can you say heaven? I had to sneak away from my boyfriend for a few hours and stuff all my purchases into my beach bag to avoid the “is that going to fit into your luggage??”) This wondrous area stretches from the top of Las Ramblas, through Placa Catalunya, along Passeig de Gracia and up Avenue Diagonal. A lot of the stretch is a pedestrian street, and the remainder has large sidewalks to accommodate the amount of people ALWAYS EVERYWHERE! Don’t worry, if your in the mood to treat yo’ self with some designer goods, you will find a variety of product for every budget here.
WARNING: DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT plan your shopping day on a Sunday, because you will end up with the same amount of money in your pocket as you started with! Nothing is open, basically-thank god I looked into it beforehand this time (I got screwed in Paris! I’m still not over it.) Sunday can be your day of site seeing (most sites are still open, but double check first!!) or a beach day.
Our second last day in Barcelona and I had been playing around on Pinterest before this trip and saw an amazing picture of this place called Montserrat, and it was an hour train ride from downtown Barcelona. Montserrat is a Montastery nestled within the mountains and probably one of the most beautiful things I have EVER seen! You aren’t able to take the regular metro here, we took the train from the Espanya rail station. Look for the line R5 headed towards Manresa. It did take us some time to figure how to get into this rail station and where to go, so give yourself some time. It was about 25-30 dollars each for the round trip, which includes your trip up the mountain once you get there. You have the choice to take cable car (which we did!) or the railway (Cremallera) The cable car seems a bit crazier, but the views are UNREAL! Once you get to the top, you are able to hike, check out the church, the museum and there are some shops. You are able to sign up for tours as well in the tourist center. In my opinion, the best view of Montserrat was from Santa Anna and The Sant Jeroni trail. Make sure your camera is charged for this trip! One tip though, ensure you keep track of the time while here, since the cable cars only run ‘til certain times. Since it is an hour here and an hour back (not including your trip up the mountain) I would say this is a full day excursion.
One last tip if you have a late flight and cannot keep your luggage at your hotel OR if you didn’t stay right downtown and don’t want to head back to your hotel to get your luggage, there is a spot by Placa Catalunya called “Locker Barcelona” where you can store your luggage for the day. The cost depends on the size of your bag, but my bags fit into the 5 euro per day locker. There is also change rooms in the building-its nothing fancy but really great if you cant head back to the hotel to get your belongings! It is right by the shuttle you can catch to get to the airport, which is quite convenient!
I feel as though I could have been in Barcelona for at least a week due to the large amount of food to eat, places to shop and sites to see! Before you go, ensure you plan out some of the main sites and then just wander! You will most likely stumble upon hidden gems you wouldn’t see if you took cabs/tour buses everywhere! I will definitely be back, Barcelona!