I decided to go solo this time but couldn’t make up my mind where so I tossed a coin, yes, as simple as that. I do usually tend to do that when I have dilemmas. And now Barcelona or Portugal? I was completely 50:50 about this one not secretly wanting more than the other. I tossed the coin… Hola Barcelona!!!
Minutes before the wheels of the plane were about to grace the Spanish land a little boy sitting behind me increased my anxiety level by a notch, ‘we’re going to land in the sea at this rate,’ he shouted. Yes I did think the same but thanks for the reassurance you git. The blue sea was beautiful but a little too close for comfort. I could even see the little people in the ship but there was no sign of flashing life jackets as of yet. After clenching my fist, heart beating faster than usual and silent prayers we finally landed safely. I was then en route to the home I was going to spend six days through a reasonably cheap Airbnb accommodation.
I got to the flat and forgot which floor I was staying in so buzzed every single button until Harriet my now house mate let me in. She greeted me with not one but two kisses on either side of my cheek and showed me around the place which had all the basics plus few more housemates, molly the cat and a large cotton material of Lord Shiva covering an entire wall in the cosy living room. Very hipsterish indeed.
OK! So time for the exploring part. Two of my friends were kind enough to write me up a list so I merged that together with the help of google and a Barcelona travel book I bought from the airport to create my very own to do list.
In no particular order…
- Gracia Festival – A special festival in August bringing the community together by showcasing artistic talents from the residence of Barcelona. Streets are decorated and paintings are hung off the narrow street walls. Definitely worth seeing all the efforts whilst having a glass of vino/cerveza in one hand.
- La Rambla Street – Now this is interesting as it is heavily talked about almost to say if you haven’t seen La Rambla Street then you haven’t seen Barcelona but personally I didn’t see the appeal. It’s a long street with market stalls selling things like cook books, paintings, plant seeds etc and then towards the end there are real life statues and people dressed up in wacky outfits. I found it a mediocre way of attracting tourists and wasn’t impressed.
- Picasso Museum – Ha Ha! A gap in my own research here. Never go to Picasso museum on a MONDAY because it’s never open! I missed seeing this one but nevertheless enjoyed spending time in the little cobbled streets near by browsing in the little handmade shops in the area. It was like a small bespoke town and could imagine myself living on top of the Tabaco shop smoking a tall slim cigarette out of the open balcony watching time pass by.
- Flamenco Show – This wasn’t on my list but we accidently crossed paths. If you have never been to a Flamenco show then book one now. I was thoroughly entertained by the man belting his voice out like a sign of a real man, sweet sounds of the Spanish guitar and two stunning women moving in perfection to every single beat in their ruffled frocks. The Española atmosphere with a glass of sangria was beautiful and I didn’t want the evening to end.
- Tapas/Paellas – Barcelona trip would not have been complete without the delicious Spanish food. The appetising tapas dishes were perfect in size to try a few from the menu. The croquettes were my favourite and I had the pleasure of trying two seafood paellas. One on a quiet side street in the city centre which was finger licking good and the other one down a strip of restaurants by the beach which tasted more like a microwave meal. If you’re a foodie like me I’d recommend the less main stream areas to dine in as it’s better value for money and much more authentic. Also I was fascinated by the different types of churros available – The plan was to pick up a jumbo size chocolate filled churro on my last day but I didn’t get around to it so I’m definitely coming back again, not just for the churros of course 😉
- Camp Nou! – I have to admit I felt like an absolute fake and slightly guilty visiting Camp Nou wearing a 15 euros yellow Neymar football shirt having no interest in the sport whatsoever but thought why not visit one of the largest football stadiums in the world. The setup is like a museum with lots of trophies and rich history of the different Barcelona football players/teams dated from many years ago. It was a good experience but I wasn’t moved or close to tears however I did find some parts inspirational. For example being in the changing room and press room made me realise how much of an impact these players have to the rest of the world. I could just picture them in the changing room chatting amongst each other before a game which is then watched live by 1000s of people across the globe and then sitting on the panel answering questions to an international audience in the press room. It’s quite mad if you think about it. These guys are normal human beings like us living an extraordinary life.
- Sagrada Familia – The cathedral has an unusual story. Imagine spending your money on something that’s incomplete, like watching half a movie at the cinema or given half a meal at a restaurant. Wouldn’t you want your money back? Sagrada Familia is an unfinished designed Cathedral which no one knows when the deadline for completion is, yet online tickets can be bought to see the captivating architectural work of Gaudi. His eye for creativity is truly visible in this masterpiece and even at a distance the silhouette stands out as something remarkable.
- Beach! – Oh yes, I did spend a day of nothing soaking up the Mediterranean sun. I’d suggest the Barceloneta beach which is just 5mins walk from Ciutadella Vila Olimpica station (yellow line).
This was my favourite local café I went to every morning for breakfast before I started my day.
I cracked that day!
I didn’t actually experience much nightlife in Barcelona so unfortunately I can’t recommend any places. I was living with a bunch of people remember so I spent most of my evenings in my jim jams hanging out until the early hours. They were awesome! Let me introduce you to them…
Meet Harriet! Originally from Australia on a gap year travelling. This is us one evening feeling merry!
Meet Gian-Luca! The boss of the house and also Harriet’s boyfriend.
Meet Raul or Dino whichever you prefer! Never understood my English lol and is super talented. Don’t mind the hair – it tends to go like Monica from friends.
Meet Filippo! He used to teach me bits of Spanish and cooked pasta every evening for dinner except for this one time because he was too tired so ate two ice-creams instead.
Meet Molly! She made me jump all the time with her constant running around and sometimes I’d find her in my suitcase if I’d leave my door open.
This was our chill out tune believe it or not introduced to me by Raul. It’s so meditative and always takes me back to Barcelona.
I felt like a tourist by day and a local by night. My Barcelona trip honestly would not have been the same without these guys. They didn’t live by a rule book or live to impress others. Harriet said to me ‘sometimes it’s not where you are but who you’re with,’ which is very true.
This was a message stuck on the fridge.
Saying bye to Barcelona wasn’t easy as I became incredibly fond of the city beach lifestyle and the friends I made but it was time to return back to London. Soooo on the aerobus I go, airport, plane, Gatwick, security and rain. Oh and on the plane I was sat next to another kiddo and just as the wheels of the plane were about to grace the land this time she said, ‘dad what is the point of an emergency exit if the plane crashes?’ – Why? Just why?