It’s been a pretty big year for my family what with my sister starting sixth form, me moving to France and Dad starting up his own business, but one of the events that we were awaiting with anticipation was that of my Mums 50th birthday and the celebrations that would ensue! For months my Dad had been planning a surprise birthday break away to mark the occasion, and so after lots of secrets and very near slip ups, we could finallyyy tell Mum that we would be going to Barcelona in a few days and get properly excited!
The trip to start off with did not exactly go to plan. After an impromtu night on the town on Friday night, I woke up on Saturday morning at 8.30am having missed my 6am Megabus to Barcelona to meet my family. The actual sequence of events is a mystery to me, either my alarm itself malfunctioned this particular morning off or I unconciously managed to turn it off. I guess we will never know… Thankfully I managed to book a Blablacar with a nice French man and managed to make it to Barca not toooooo much later than I had initially intended 🙂
While in Barca we did a few things which were really really awesome, here are the ones I would recommend!
Passeig de Gràcia
If you have cash to burn then look no further than this long-ass avenue which is home to a ridiculous number of designer shops and boutiques. Pretty much any designer brand you can think of has its place on Passeig de Gràcia – Chanel, Tiffany, Gucci… Safe to say I did not buy anything (one day, one day…) but it has a very cosmopolitan feel and some good places for tapas and vino.
We ended up on Las Ramblas pretty much every day of our stay for one reason or another, and if I’m being honest I’m not entirely sure why it is such a tourist hotspot, but it’s still well worth a little wander down! It runs from Plaça de Catalunya down to the ports and beach, and is busy with tourists and locals. The avenue runs parallel to Avinguda Portal de l’Àngel, which has more general high street shops, but Las Ramblas hosts stalls and stalls of souvenirs, ice cream, flowers, art work etc. which is nice to have a stroll amongst 🙂
Half way down Las Ramblas you will find El Mercado de la Boqueria, which is arguably the most sensually exciting experience I’ve ever had. La Boqueria is a huge indoor market filled with fruits, meats, cheeses, vegetable, sweeties… basically if you can think of a food La Boqueria will have it, but in a way that is so deliciously presented that you don’t really know what to taste first. There are places to sit and have tapas if you fancy having lunch there, but we settled on some chocolate covered strawberries and a coconut smoothie to accompany us on the walk round. Post-Boqueria we got a coffee at a nice café next door called Escribà where we had a little sandwich and a coffee. I really enjoyed having a nosey look at everyone’s stalls and since the entry is free, it makes for a cheap way to spend your time in Barcelona! (Depending on how much scrummy food you buy, obviously…).
Beach and Ports
So at the end of Las Ramblas you’ll reach Port Vell, with the beach a little further along. With a bright and sunny day the ports are a really beautiful, although when we visited it was cloudy and cold so it really just didn’t do them justice. We did have a stroll further along though to the beach where there are some lovely on-the-beach bars and places to chill and watch the world go by.
Castell de Montjuïc
A definite must-see recommended by my lovely coursemate, Castell de Montjuïc is an old military fortress that boasts some fantastic views over the entirety of Barcelona for only 5 euro. We took the metro to Plaça d’Espanya where we hopped on the number 150 bus to take us to the top of the hill. At times we felt there was a lack of information regarding the history of the monument as we were walking around, however towards the end we came across a small information centre which gave some background of Castell de Montjuïc as well as the history of Barcelona.
Of course a trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the star of the Gaudi show, Sagrada Familia, and we did this on the second to last day of our trip. We were told to book our tickets online before our trip because the queue would be horrendous, but honestly for us the pre-bought ticket queue was twice that of those buying their tickets on the day (not sure why that was, perhaps it’s not normally like that?). The audio guide that we bought with our tickets was super useful, because no matter how beautiful Sagrada Familia is on the inside, it just makes so much more sense when you pair it with the commentary from the audio guide. The whole experience of Sagrada Familia is slightly strange because we are so used to churches being old and very very traditional, however this is the opposite with it’s different coloured pillars and bright stained glass, that give a much more modern feel, albeit not by any means less stunning. After looking around the inside we went up to the top of the Navity tower which provided yet another lovely view over Barcelona followed by a very long walk down a spiral staircase to get back to the bottom. I loved itttt!
On the Tuesday evening my Dad got a bit impromtu and casually booked tickets to watch Barcelona play Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou stadium. As the fairly quiet-about-it football fan that my Dad is, this was the opportunity of a lifetime to go and watch Barcelona play and I really feel that the experience is worth the money we paid for it. The atmosphere was great, the stadium is hooj and the view even from the third storey of seats was very good. They played Paris Saint-Germain and won 2- 0, however the French in me did feel very conflicted…
La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
On our final day we went to La Pedrera, one of Gaudis most famous works near where we were staying. If I’m honest I wasn’t overwhelmed by the experience, but I did really like the arches in the attic. Looking round the appartment was quite nice and very old-fashioned, but meh.. perhaps if you’re pushed for time I wouldn’t make La Pedrera a priority.
Overall we had a lovely time and it was so so nice to spend some real quality time with the fam. It was so nice to see Mum open all of her presents that we had spent so long planning and I hope she had as good of a time as I did ^.^
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA TAY!!!