Barcelona. The city that never sleeps, full of art, architecture and amazing food with a stunning beach to go with it! Seafood, tapas, sangria, Gaudi, leafy parks, amazing hotels and a stones throw from a majestic mountain range! What more could you possibly ask for on a city break
Barcelona has it all!
I was lucky that this was my second trip to beautiful Barcelona. I tend to not return to the same place more than once as I feel the world is so big and it’s my aim to see as much of it as possible. But Steffan hadn’t been and after him mentioning he would love to go I rushed off and booked flights within the day. We watched youtube videos and googled away for different things to do whilst we were there. Sure, the typical yet amazing Barcelona attractions are absolutely worth seeing, but we wanted to find a few little extras to spice up our trip.
We opted for a street art walking tour, a day trip to Montserrat mountain range, a sunset sailing cruise and just by chance we were visiting over their celebration period of Sant Juan! We had hit the jackpot with that one and I would love to take the credit, but honestly its potluck I booked those dates.
We did our best to get our ducks in a row with an itinerary and we did pretty well. But as is the life of Emma & Steffan we had our hiccups, bookings missed, long-ass walks to nowhere and slight hangovers! Some people call them mishaps, we call them memories. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves, so we feel better about being completely disorganised. Country number four of 2019, here we come!
Exhaustion, street art and tapas
When I booked the flights for Barcelona, I didn’t really consider the fact that it was stupidly early and we wouldn’t get much sleep. I tend to book British Airways because they have a tight safety record (have we mentioned our slight fear of flying, nope? Another time maybe!) but for this journey, they either did a 6am flight or much later in the day. And as we only had four nights, we opted for the 6am. I mean who gets tired and grumpy when they are going on holiday, right?
Umm, we do.
We always get waaaaay too excited the night before any trip and can’t sleep. Scrap that. The entire week before, we get totally over excited and we struggle to get to bed before 1am, we just can’t stop ourselves chattering away excitedly about what we plan to do and how amazing it will be. We know this and we know we exhaust ourselves, yet we just can’t seem to stop doing it. And let me tell you, the three hours sleep we had before heading to the airport really did us no favours.
The plane journey was 2 hours of pure tension and snippy remarks about who sits next to the window, the fact we hadn’t read the guide book we had promised we would read and how totally unorganised we were and after an hour of me feeling totally exhausted and fed up I finally broke and silently started to cry. And for the record, I am not a crier. It wasn’t the perfect start to our trip and certainly not how we imagined it.
When we arrived in Barcelona the mood lifted a little, we got a taxi and we were at our Air B & B in the residential area of Poble Sec within around 30 minutes. Poblesec is located in the Sant Montjuic district of Barcelona and is famed for its 19th-century architecture, cultural diversity and excellent local restaurants.
Our host was lovely, the air con worked amazingly (thank the lord) and the apartment was beaut! The host, after questioning if we were travelling around Spain due to the size of our cases and looking shocked when we confirmed that no, we were in fact leaving after the four days, just smiled and left us to it. I would like to say that the excitement kicked in, and we ran out the door dying to explore the streets of this undiscovered Spanish city with smiles covering our faces. But the truth is we both lay on the sofa bed and went to sleep. It had beaten us. Lesson learnt. No stupidly early flights after being at work all week. I made a mental note.
Two hours later we awoke groggy and fuzzy-headed but in slightly better more positive moods and after checking the time realised, we had to get moving as we had booked a street art walking tour around the El Raval neighbourhood. We both love street art and I remembered Barcelona being pretty epic for it.
After a walk to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary art which was where our meeting for the tour was located, we convinced each that a cheeky Aperol spritz and a beer would perk us up as Steffan looked on wide-eyed like a child in a candy shop at all the skateboarders outside the museum.
‘I wish I had bought my board’ he said whilst watching on and sipping his beer I shrugged with little energy to discuss any further but promised we would skate tomorrow.
We met Olga from street art Barcelona, (you can find them online – link at the bottom of the page) and started our tour. It was pretty hot. Something us brits fail to cope with all too well. But the tour was brilliant. Olga was personable and so informative, walking us around various areas where there were specific pieces of street art and talking through all the history or background behind it. We snapped away whilst listening intently and we learnt a lot. Whilst I loved street art, I really hadn’t thought much about it in terms of the meaning behind some of the pieces, styles artists had chosen and the motivation for them to risk fines and criminal charges in order to get their work out there. Olga explained a lot; it was insightful, and I would definitely recommend arranging a tour with them if you are keen to see some amazing pieces! We finished the tour in Tres chimeneas, (Three chimneys) skate park which is a pretty big deal in Barcelona for skaters. And saying that, Barcelona itself is a pretty big deal to skaters worldwide. Barcelona is renowned as one of the best cities in the world for Skaters and the skating capital of Europe. The main meeting point for skateboarding is outside the MACBA museum of contemporary art but there are many other skate spots throughout the city, and you only need to walk a few paces before someone flys past you!
Some of you may or may not know that Steffan skates. I know, is there anything he can’t do?? He used to skate a huge amount, but life got in the way and he skated less and less over the last few years. But after some encouragement from me to take his board on trips with us, he rushed out and got a whole new set up and he couldn’t wait to have a go in some of the local skate parks! If he had his board on him, I am pretty sure he would have just left the tour. But we parked it for another day.
Our tour lasted around 2 hours and we then made our way to the nearest restaurant to us which we got lucky with. A cosy local tapas bar where we ordered far more than we could eat, got drunk after one glass of wine and then stumbled back to our holiday home. It was an early night; we were both pretty broken and agreed to get up early the next day to go to the skate park so Steffan could try out his new board.
Try and book an Air B & B or accommodation in a more residential area. Not only is it cheaper, but you do get a sense of the real community in the area you are visiting.
If you like street art, Barcelona is the city to visit! And street art Barcelona tours are amazing. We learnt so much when on our tour that we wouldn’t have known, and it gives you an appreciation for the mind behind the creations.
Skateboarding, Sant Juan and Paella
Our first full day in Barcelona and we had set our alarm for an early 7am start. We excitedly jumped out of bed ready to start the day. Heck did we. We slept in, again. Realising we had got up far too late for the skate park to be anything but busy we rushed around the apartment getting dressed whilst downing black coffee and shoving cheese in our mouths! Luckily for us it seems most skaters also like to sleep in so when we arrived, we had the whole park to ourselves!
It was already almost 25 degrees and I was thankful I wasn’t talented enough to be able to skateboard and got to just take photographs and film whilst my lovely boyfriend did all the hard work! I did have a little go, I did well. Or so he said. The Instagram story which showed my efforts told a different story!
After spending a couple of hours at Tres chimeneas skate park and Steffan leaving with only minor injuries after stacking it hard onto concrete we decided to make our way back to the apartment.
We planned to go and see a Castello’s event, you know where all the people climb on top of each other to terrifying heights and try not to collapse and break bones? Well, that. We had read it was quite a traditional and local Catalonian event to see and so we had written it into our itinerary. We got back, showered and checked the time and only then did we realise my phone had not adjusted to Spanish time. It was an hour later than we had thought and the event which was a 15-minute walk and a 20-minute train journey away, had just started. Man alive. This was the first of many times throughout our trip my phone, and more annoyingly our lack of remembering the fact it was wrong, affected our plans. After a brief discussion, we agreed to try to get there now was a lost cause and that we would just head out to La Rambla and drop in at the famous Boqueria Market to get a fruit smoothie.
We had researched public transport before we left and knew that getting a T10 ticket for the metro and public transport was our best option. It costs around 10 euros for a T10 ticket and you can purchase them at any of the machines in the metro stations or the newspaper booths you see around the street. It gives you 10 journeys; the clue is in the name! So, we bought one and shared it and when we had used them just purchased another. It’s a really easy and cost-effective way of getting around the city as whilst Barcelona is very walkable, a lot of the attractions are not all that close together meaning the constant walking in 30-degree heat can get exhausting!
We jumped on the metro and got off at Placa Catalunya. The square of pigeons. That’s just what we call it, before you go asking locals for directions! Because it is full of pigeons…. My worst fear! And I’m not discriminating, its flying things in general that tend to send me into a panic. That said the square is beautiful. Fountains, majestic statues, gardens brimming with bright red flowers with a backdrop of the busy Barcelona streets. Definitely worth walking through it. Or around it if you don’t like pigeons.
After taking some photos and having a little google, we realised that the market was closed on Sundays! Schoolboy error. We had also both realised we were starving and both of us do not do well hungry. At. All. Que moaning, huffing, solemn faces and irritable conversations. So, we took the decision upon ourselves to get food asap, Paella!
After shovelling food down, we headed to Casa Batllo which was only a further 5-minute walk down the street we were on. Casa Batllo is one of the many stunning Gaudi creations in Barcelona. Known as the house of bones by locals, it’s an awe-inspiring and interesting building with an intricately designed façade made of what looks like faces built into balconies. The inside is even better. However, I had thought it was under construction hence nor pre-booking tickets but after realising that was not the case we vowed to book when we got back to the apartment and come on one of our other days. It’s virtually impossible to just buy tickets on the door and go in without waiting at least an hour for your time slot so pre-book if you do want to see the inside, and we recommend you do see it!
By the time we had taken photos of Casa Batllo we were pretty tired. Again. What can I say, we like our sleep! And we had to reserve our energy for today was a special day. Sant Joans day! A huge celebration for the summer solstice! Fireworks, street performers, bonfires, dancers, food and a ton of alcohol. It is a pretty big deal. I would love to take the credit and say that I had planned the trip so meticulously around this legendary celebration. But that wouldn’t be honest of me. It was a fluke. A complete but beautiful coincidence. So, we headed back to the apartment to get changed, have a few gin and tonics and get ourselves in the party mood! And party mood we achieved! Dancing around the apartment whilst getting changed got us buzzing ready to get amongst one of the biggest parties of the year!
My nerves were slightly out given we had been warned fireworks get let off left right and centre in the streets with no warning, no rules and definitely no health & safety. I sacrificed the dress in favour of trousers so that I could make a dash if required. And sure enough, as soon as we had left the apartment fireworks were constantly going off around us in these tight city streets by groups of adults, children and even shop owners! It was insane! The gin had taken the edge off for the both of us and after a few loud bangs scaring the life out of us, it became a kind of like white noise.
The next 8 hours are a blur. We walked through the streets, drinking sangria, stopping for an essential espresso after realising we were peaking too soon, found ourselves in the middle of a small party with locals dancing and playing instruments, and just revelled in the buzzing atmosphere as we wandered around not knowing where we were going. We finally decided to head to the beach given we knew that’s where the party was at and after failing at google maps, we jumped on a local tuk-tuk. Yep, we didn’t know Barcelona had them either, but it was the find of the entire trip! Whizzing through the streets, music pumping (they have speakers), with the driver realising the faster he went the more excited we got and picking up speed more and more whilst dodging trees was exhilarating and such a fun way of making our way to the beach. When we arrived, it was buzzing! The beach was packed with locals and tourists alike sat on blankets drinking their poison, chatting excitedly with family and friends whilst members of their groups and quite often children, set off fireworks nearby. It was slightly worrying seeing children as young as six or seven years old setting off fireworks, but when in Rome!
We made our way to one of the many beach bars and spent the next few hours dancing like lunatics, downing tequila shots and laughing! It was a good night! Steffan was on top form, performing the funky chicken and wind and grind to any song that came on complete with a camera bag, tripod and other accessories attached to his back! He was the life and soul of the party and between us we cleared the dancefloor. Probably not for the right reasons, but we thought we looked good and who else matters right?
We could have kept going all night as the party showed no sign of slowing but luckily for us, the realisation we had to climb a mountain tomorrow set in around 1am and we decided to call it a night. After getting lost walking home due to Steffan having had a few too many and ending up in the sailing port with no way to go except back the way we came, we opted for my preferred choice of transport back to the apartment. Tuk tuk!
The hour wasted walking around lost aside, we were back within a further half an hour. We stopped at a local ‘restaurant’ near our apartment to get some food to try and pre-empt the hangover the next morning. And when we say a restaurant, we bought a kebab. A local one.
- If you skateboard or like watching people skate, Barcelona is the place to visit! It’s a world-renowned hot spot and the skate parks are colourful, buzzing and brimming with atmosphere!
- Placa Catalunya = loads of pigeons. Enough said.
- Buy a T10 ticket for the metro, super cheap and super convenient. Its gets you 10 trips between you and costs 10 euros. You can buy them on the machine in the station which are in English or any newspaper stands in the streets.
- Pre-book Casa Batllo online, it gets booked weeks in advance unless you are happy waiting around for an hour or so and even then that’s not guaranteed.
- If you like a party and don’t mind a lack of health & safety visit during Sant Joan, it is intense, exhilarating and something you won’t forget.
Montserrat, Montjuic and a million steps
So today was the day we had planned to climb a mountain. I don’t know why, we are not hikers or walkers to be honest. We like to see ourselves that way, but it rarely happens. And In hindsight probably not the best idea after the huge Sant Joan celebrations but we always seem to think we are more sensible than we are. Getting to bed at 3am after downing sangrias and tequilas made it clear we need to accept, sensible we are not.
We crawled out of bed at around 11 am and that was a struggle! My hair was matted and my eyes like pinholes and Steffan was struggling to string a sentence together.
‘We were meant to be up the mountain by now’
‘I know. Wait, what day is it?’ Steffan replied.
Crap. We were not doing too well. We had planned to be up at 7 am so we had the whole day at Montserrat as it wasn’t a short journey. But this is us, and it just didn’t happen. But refusing to be defeated, we got changed, forced food down our necks and got on our way by around 1 pm! We had a short metro journey to Plaça d’Espanya station and jumped on the train to Montserrat. We had been warned that the station and purchasing of tickets were complicated and this is not how we found it even in our hungover state! It was pretty straightforward.
After an hour and 40 minutes we arrived and jumped on our preferred method of transport, the cable car. The only way I can describe it, is it looks like a bright yellow saucepan with a lid on it. Round, unstable and unsettling to watch and ride. But the views are amazing! If you can get past vertigo it’s worth it for the scenery and photo opportunities! If it’s not for you, there is also a funicular you can get up which is much like a train.
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain range near Barcelona and is part of the Catalan Pre coastal range. It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary.
The views from the first level of Montserrat were nothing short of breath-taking. And we commended ourselves for making it out of bed. At the top there are hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops and the famous viewing point and stairway to heaven. The famous Stairway to heaven sculpture for me was underwhelming and paled in comparison to the stunning natural views. Being Instagram newbies, we didn’t even really know it was Instagram famous until we got to Barcelona and the fact that people travel to Montserrat just to see and climb these 9 steps seemed absurd to us. But, different horses for different courses. After taking a few snaps, enjoying the views and eating a rock-hard sandwich (The restaurants were closed due to us being so late!) it was time to head back.
‘I wish we had gotten up earlier, we might have had time to visit the top’ Steffan said disappointed.
I agreed. The top where the abbey was located looked even more stunning and I bet the views were epic. But we just didn’t have time to get up there and not miss the last train back to the city.
If there is one thing we find frustrating about travelling part-time it’s that we don’t really get enough time to do everything we want to do and give things enough time. It’s always a rush. Not that we are complaining, poor us, going away all the time but being rushed. But it’s a trade-off for sure. More countries, less time in each one.
Hot and sweating we jumped on the train and scanned the coaches. No seats. Our faces dropped. Hungover, tired and ever so slightly frustrated we stood up for the entire 1 hour and 40-minute journey clutching at each other for support to stay standing. The night before had started to catch up with us and by the time we got back to the apartment, we were exhausted. But, Steffan had promised we would go looking for a beautiful sunset this evening and had researched and found the Montjuic Hill where the castle was located was one of the best spots. I had a google. The words hike and trek kept popping up and I started to feel uneasy. We were seriously bloody tired. Not sure we would enjoy a trek up a huge hill. After a short discussion which involved me suggesting public transport, there were cable cars after all and nowhere flat has a cable car so it must be a long walk up, and Steffan reassuring me that the cable car didn’t go to the top anyway and just from the beach and the walk would be nice, we decided to walk. WHY?
The steps were never-ending. Hundreds of steps. Our legs were shaking, and it took a good 50 minutes to make it to the top. And to add insult to injury as we reached the top. There it was. A cable car going overhead taking the sensible people to the top. As I caught my breath, I shot Steffan a look. He muttered something about being mistaken and promised to pay for dinner which appeased me for almost 5 minutes before we hit the next set of steps. If you too want to visit the castle on Montjuic Hill, unless you love steps and walking, do your legs a favour and get the cable car. There are pick up points on the way up or one on the beach. It looks far quicker and far less emotionally damaging.
We finally reached the castle feeling tired but somewhat accomplished. To find there really was no view. This is so typical us. No matter what research we do, no matter how much effort we make, things are never as easy or go as planned! Or maybe that’s what everyone’s trips are like, but no one ever admits it… either way, we were here now. We circled the castle looking for the gorgeous hill we had seen in the photos where we could sit and drink our wine as the sun went down. There was just wall after wall and no view. Trying to stay positive we decided to make our way back down to the gardens and see if we could at least get a twilight view as it got darker. We started our descent. And descent it was. I counted 300 hundred steps before I got distracted by an inviting children’s play park with absolutely no one around! Perfect! We had a go on the slide and headed back down. The views over the city were worth it, sunset or not. Parc d Montjuic is one of the highest points in Barcelona at a height of 184.8 metres high to be exact. So, you can see for miles. The twilight views made it all worthwhile and we got some really pretty photographs.
On the way up you walk through all these landscaped gardens with sweeping trees, colourful flowers and ponds and the sensible people around were sat down drinking beer and wine and chatting quietly or reading a book. It’s a lovely place to chill and enjoy the views. By the time we made it back down, it was almost 10pm. We decided to try a local restaurant for dinner and luckily in Barcelona people eat late. It’s perfectly normal to head out to eat at 9-10pm so we didn’t have to opt for a kebab again. Slightly disappointed, but there is always tomorrow. Dinner was amazing, we had traditional Catalonian food, in a lovely cosy restaurant and enjoyed a few well-deserved glasses of wine to finish off the marathon of a day.
‘My legs hurt’ I moaned whilst wincing
‘Mine too, we are not good’ Steffan replied.
We both laughed and ordered more wine.
- It takes 1 Hour 40 minutes to get to Montserrat from Espanya train station and costs 22 euros each including travel up the mountain either by cable car or funicular Restaurants close at 4pm up the mountain so if you want lunch, get there at lunchtime
- Allocate a day for Montserrat if you want to visit the abbey and go up to the top of the mountain
- Unless you enjoy walking up a ton of steps, take the cable car up to Mont Juic castle and then walk back down through the gardens
Sagrada Familia, sunset cruises and being seasick
We had an early start today. Well early for us anyway. 6am. We had booked tickets for the famous and iconic Parc Guell, one of Gaudi’s colourful creations.
Parc Guell was built from 1900 to 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site. So it’s a pretty big deal! Think colourful tiled walls, gingerbread men looking buildings and weird and wonderful structural designs all splashed with colour all built within a green and flowery park.
I had booked tickets for 8am so that hopefully it wasn’t too busy and when the alarm went off we jumped out of bed. This time we genuinely did. We got ready in speedy record time for us and had us about packed our bags when I glanced at the clock on the wall. My stomach dropped. Crap! My phone wasn’t the right time. We knew this! But we had both forgotten and hadn’t set the alarm for an hour early than required so we were now an hour late and our reservation was this very moment!
I looked at Steffan and I think my face said it all. After confessing the mistake I had made, we hot-footed it to the metro station and got as quickly as possible to Vallarta where we jumped off and started our walk using google maps. We turned the corner and were faced with steps upon steps as far as we could see.
‘Is anywhere in this city flat?’ I proclaimed
‘I guess not’ Steffan laughed
We started the hike, calves burning from the day before and after what felt like a lifetime made it to the top. Since returning we did discover that there is an escalator somewhere you can take instead of all of those steps. Apparently, the parc is built into the side of a mountain. The story of our lives. But a tip to take away if you lovely people don’t fancy burning your legs out at every given opportunity.
When we arrived at the parc we noticed barriers in random places and could hear drills and machinery going off. It was under construction. This was getting predictable. However, it worked in our favour on this occasion. They usually have scan in barriers where if you miss your slot, you have to pay for another ticket. But as there were building works going on, they were using temporary access points with no scanned entry points. So, they didn’t know whether we had been there the whole time or not! Feeling rather smug we got inside and started to have a look around. Much of the parks photo points were covered in scaffolding and barriers and so we didn’t stay too long. I did make a beeline straight for the famous tiled salamander…. My favourite thing in the whole park!
We ate in the small restaurant, downed as much coffee as possible in half an hour and headed off to Sagrada Familia. This was something I was super excited about!
Again, my second trip to this stunning cathedral, but it remained etched into my memory as one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen bar none. I remember the first time I saw it, It looked so majestic, dominating the skyline. But when I went inside, WOW! Breath-taking. And I couldn’t wait to share this experience with Steffan and see what he thought of it.
We arrived early for the first time this entire trip and decided to spend some time in the park opposite the church. It had peaked at around 30 degrees and it was midday, so we took shelter under one of the trees listening to the relaxing sounds of a lady playing the steel drum behind us and opted for a slush puppy each. Now I get it, things are expensive in Barcelona. And even more so outside the city’s masterpiece, Sagrada Familia. But four euros for a slush puppy? Come on now, that is pretty much daylight robbery. Three euros for water and coca-cola and we are not talking a big bottle, we are talking about a small can. Crazy prices! I was so glad I hadn’t opted for a glass of wine as we probably wouldn’t have eaten that night.
We queued up in the baking heat and after 15 minutes had almost made it in but at the last hurdle we were stopped. Dress code. Steffan was wearing a vest and I had about a cm of my belly showing and this wasn’t okay. He ushered us in the direction of the local shops and we slinked off feeling like naughty school children or worse disrespectful and uncultured tourists. Steffan opted for a beaut of a T-shirt which was grey and in bright red displayed the slogan ‘I love Barcelona’ across it. So him. I got away with just buttoning up my jacket and off we went.
I had booked additional tickets to visit the Nativity tower in Sagrada Familia as the views across
the city was meant to be pretty incredible. There are two towers you can choose from, The passion façade and the Nativity façade. After a 5 minute google, I had come to the conclusion the Nativity was better for photographers and so we headed up there. You are taken up in a lift and then the only way down is the longest spiral staircase I have ever encountered. Longer than any in building in any European city I have been to and to make matters more challenging there were passages splitting off in different directions that I think kept bringing us back to the point we were at 10 minutes ago. It was hard to tell as everything looked the same. It was super confusing. But there are lots of little windows where you can take photos as you go back down. The views are pretty impressive if you can fit your camera through the metal fencing, which you just about can. But it was much smaller than we expected.
Making our way down the winding staircases seemed to go on forever, and ever and ever. If you have read our Lisbon blog, you will know winding staircases are not my thing. I have slight vertigo, get dizzy super easy and am generally the clumsiest person I and Steffan know so a foot wrong would take me to the bottom in about .2 seconds and leave me with a few injuries. However, this time around, I did okay. I overtook Steffan and just ‘got on with it’.
After around five minutes I could hear a slightly panicked Steffan calling me. I shouted up. I could hear a lovely lady talking to him,
‘It’s just vertigo, hold onto the rail and look ahead, don’t look down’
I was in disbelief. But very slightly amused. He came around the corner gripping handrail for dear life, sweating with shaking legs! I just burst out laughing, I couldn’t contain myself. I pulled myself together and after filming him for a short few seconds, I became a nice person and tried to help him. A little.
After wandering around taking photos and admiring the inside of the church we decided to head back to the apartment. We had a sunset sailing cruise tonight and I was buzzing for it!! I love anything sea-related and hadn’t really been on a sailing boat for any amount of time, so I was super excited! Plus, there was free sangria, need I say more?
‘Can we head to the gothic quarter before we go to the port?’ asked Steffan clutching his camera
‘Sure, I can’t actually believe we haven’t been yet!’ I replied
So, our few hours of chilling turned into a mad dash of showering, downing gin (it was after 4pm so why not?), charging cameras and phones and getting dressed.
The gothic quarter was one of my favourite areas in Barcelona on my last trip. Its narrow medieval streets and trendy restaurants and bars lured me in and I was excited to head back, albeit a fleeting visit.
It was just as beautiful as I remembered it and Steffan was in photography heaven. When disaster struck. His memory card was corrupted. Straight after taking a long exposure shot which was quite honestly, such a beautiful photograph. He was not happy, and I didn’t blame him. Trying to appease the situation in the only way I know possible I suggested alcohol and ushered him to a bar outside the Barcelona Cathedral and square. After ordering a few drinks, a smile spread across his face. Well, a small one. He had spotted a camera shop just a few minutes away and rushed off.
He came back slightly happier with a new memory card but still wasn’t sure if he had lost some photographs on the corrupt card but we agreed to sort it when we returned.
It was time to head off to Port Vell where we were picking up the sunset cruise and we opted for a taxi. Barcelona is big. Especially on foot. And we were tired. The last three days rushing around sightseeing had been amazing, but our legs were feeling it!
The boat was small, a sailing boat as expected but I hadn’t really expected it to be so small. We met the skipper and the other five people sharing our sunset cruise and dug into our first sangria and snacks of olives and breadsticks! By this point, I was probably far too ‘merry’ and loud. I am from a family of three other siblings and have grown up having to shout over people to get a word in edgeways and sadly it’s never quite left me. Even as a 33-year-old adult. But I did my best, and it was nice to get to know everyone and chat about where they were staying and what they had seen! 20 minutes in Steffan started to look a little pale and had gone suspiciously quiet as had another lady on the boat. It was a little choppy, but this was normal right?
‘You okay Steff?’ I shouted across the boat. Really no need to shout, he was just a metre away.
‘Yeah I’m fine’ he said unconvincingly.
I suggested more sangria and the skipper headed off to fill everyone up. It’s only when he got back that he started to move a little quickly around the boat, pulling ropes and moving things and even asking for help. Apparently, the second skipper hadn’t turned up this evening. And it was a little rough. I was having a great time, oblivious to the fact this wasn’t your average sunset cruise! The sun looked beautiful, the view was stunning, yes you had to hold on and the boat was tooing and froing but I wasn’t concerned. On the return to port, the skipper stood up laughing to himself,
‘Well I am glad you are all okay’, ‘the other boat turned around and has been in the port all evening, but since you asked for more sangria I knew it was fine, so I carry on!’
Well, Steffan was not okay. He was feeling very sick. And not well at all.
There was only one thing for it, food and water.
The kebab was his suggestion, not mine. Although I was over the moon.
- Make sure you are covered up for Sagrada Familia. No vest tops for men and ladies, cover that midriff! Or you will be sent on a very dull and very involuntary shopping mission
- If you decide to book a cruise and you even have an inkling you might get motion sick, get some tablets before you go. The boats are small and the sea can be choppy!
- Either way make sure you take a walk along the port, the buzzing restaurants and gleaming ships make for a beautiful and holiday Esq atmosphere!
Casa Battlo, pinchos and packing up
We had an early start today. After walking past Casa Batllo a few days back and realising that it was no longer under construction (a running theme in all of our travels that everything is always under construction!) we decided to purchase tickets online. I had been in before. But I thought Steffan would appreciate it and so we pre-booked early tickets to get in there before the crowds. It doesn’t have the biggest space in there and so taking photographs without a million heads blocking the architecture is pretty difficult. For the first time on our trip, we woke up on time and go there, on time. Go us! Maybe we were turning a corner? The early tickets cost 39 euros each and means you get access 30 minutes before opening, there are only so many tickets that they sell so get in there if photography is important to you!
After taking some shots and walking around Casa Batllo we realised it was time to head back to the apartment. We only had a few hours until check out and the apartment looked like a bomb had hit it. This trip had been immense, so much to see and do and we were honestly exhausted. It’s the first trip we have been on where we have looked forward to going home just so we could have longer than half an hour to sit down in an entire day.
After tidying the apartment and checking out we had an hour until our pick up so headed off to a restaurant for our favourite food we had discovered on this trip. Pinchos! Pinchos are the tapas of Catalonia. We actually didn’t realise until we did a little reading before our trip that tapas isn’t really a thing in Barcelona. I mean you can get it, but it’s not what the locals eat. The locals eat Pinchos! Small circular pieces of bread topped with various vegetables and meats. Think posh party food, but way more creative! They were topped with anything from prawns, to sausage to cream cheeses and avocado, simply delish and super affordable at around 1 euro to 1 euro 50 each. If you eat anything in Barcelona, make sure you try the pinchos!
After a coffee each and a sneaky aperol spritz for me, (I just can’t say no when I am on holiday!) it was time to head off to the airport.
With achy legs and sore feet, happy hearts and our heads and memory cards full of the previous days precious moments we kissed goodbye to this beautiful city. Until next time!
To read about our top 5 foods to try in Barcelona click here
If you want to get decent photographs at Casa Batllo we would recommend the early pass. 15 euros more than the standard ticket pp but there were only around 10 people in there, so we had no one walking in front of the camera
If you have time, spend more than four days in Barcelona. It’s a huge city with so many things to see. We could have easily spent a week if we had the annual leave and it probably would have saved our feet and bodies from the onset of exhaustion we experienced towards the end!
Try the pinchos! Also spelt Pinxos! Such a great way of eating, super cheap and why not eat like the locals!
If you want to book a street art tour, then we highly recommend these guys, link below!
To pre-book tickets for Casa Batllo and get in early, you can use the link below
To pre-book tickets for Parc Guell see below link
To pre-book sagrada Familia tickets, link below