Just a short flight from Lisbon, the fourth leg of our journey found us in Barcelona, Spain.
My first impressions of Barcelona found me in love with the city however, there were a couple of things that left me with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth (literally and figuratively speaking). Read on below to find out what I loved and what I didn’t quite love.
After touching down just after lunchtime, we took the Aerobus from the airport which we got off at Plaza Catalunya. From here, we took a short taxi ride to the hotel we were staying at to check-in (Sallés Hotel Pere IV). The taxi ride was just 7 Euros, so it wasn’t very far at all but a bit too far to walk with our bags.
After checking-in, we decided to take a stroll down to the beach, Barceloneta Playa. Even though it was a man-made beach, it was still nonetheless very beautiful. Once we had reached the end of the beach-front strip, we stopped for a bite to eat at a tapas restaurant. Eating on the beach-front is a little bit pricier and touristy (but it would be as expected).
Once we’d finished lunch, we continued to walk – this time towards the Gothic Quarter. Even just a moderate walk away (approx. 20 minutes or so), the Gothic Quarter was very different to what we had just seen on the beach-front. Buildings in the Gothic Quarter still remained from the Roman times, so it was quite the contrast from cosmopolitan Barcelona.
Making our way through the Gothic Quarter, we eventually ended up on Passeig de Gracias (one of the main streets in Barcelona). Here we saw Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batllo which was architecture unlike anything I had ever seen before. Truly unique.
After already a crazy amount of walking on this day, we finally decided to take the metro and purchase a 4-day pass for our stay in Barcelona. We were very hesitant about this after reading about the pickpocketing that occurs in Barcelona and particularly on the metro, but there was no way we were going to cover this city in four days, by foot. The 4-day pass cost 26 Euros each, which was pretty good value for money considering how often we ended up using the metro.
From here, we took the metro to Sagrada Familia and admired this amazing work of art from outside and afar. The queue was incredibly long to get into the Sagrada Familia so we decided to book-in some tickets for an allocated time slot the next day.
We spent the first half of our second day walking to and around Antoni Gaudi’s Park Guell. Again, lines to get into sights were long and we really didn’t want to wait in the burning sun… so we walked around Park Guell and took in the view over Barcelona from the very top. It’s a fairly long walk up to Park Guell, but there escalators on the way up however, I refused to take them and can proudly say that I took the stairs all the way up to Park Guell! Insert proud face here.
We then made our way to La Panxa del Bisbe to have our best tapas (the fresh sardines with avocado and strawberries were to die for despite how unappetising it sounds), before heading back to visit the Sagrada Familia. Inside the Sagrada was unbelievable; so unbelievable that I don’t think I’m capable of doing it any justice with my words, so you’ll have to check out the photos in an upcoming post!
Afterwards, we took the metro to the nearest stop to the Magic Fountain. This was a really modern part of the city, and the Magic Fountain and the buildings around it were worth a visit just to see – just beautiful! We were unfortunate to not see the Magic Fountain in all its glory, so I’d recommend doing some research into the operating days/times before planning your visit.
We decided to visit the Las Ramblas (despite avoiding it for the first couple of days) and headed to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, which was a market filled with the freshest looking produce I had ever seen. Fruit, vegetables, candy, chocolate, meats, cheeses – and so much of it to choose from. The market was pretty crowded as well, so we were careful to be weary of our surroundings and belongings.
The crowds of the Las Ramblas eventually got the better of me – I was feeling overwhelmed and somewhat anxious that I just needed to get out of there. I just didn’t feel the most positive vibe from the area.
After escaping the Las Ramblas, we found another market in the middle of the Gothic Quarter. We bought some cheeses, quince paste and a baguette and decided to head to Parc de la Citudella to soak up the sun and have a little picnic.
As it was Labour Day in Barcelona, not a lot was open. Luckily, we had booked in an experience with Eat With. If you haven’t heard of Eat With before, I’d definitely recommend it! It basically is a foodie version of Airbnb, which allows you to be part in authentic dining experiences with locals in different cities around the world. We booked in a paella cooking class with Guillermo and Cristina and could not recommend them anymore.
The experience took up most of the day, and it was a rather nice way to wind down our stay in Barcelona.
Where we stayed: Sallés Hotel Pere IV. A little out of town, but not too far (a 2 minute walk to the closest metro station, and a 7 Euro taxi ride to Plaza Catalunya.
Must-Eats: I honestly didn’t find much food that blew me away, and the taste of the seafood was a bit too strong. I did however, love the Padron peppers available at basically every tapas restaurant, as well as the fresh juices at Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The best tapas I had was at La Panxa del Bisbe – sounds weird, but you could really taste the love and effort put into the food.
Must-Sees: The Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter and Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, of course but the Park Citudella was definitely underrated!
What I loved: The sunshine (the weather was unbelievable!) and the unique architecture of Antoni Gaudi.
What I didn’t quite love: The food – it wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t love it. Seafood is very popular in Barcelona, but a little too ‘oceany’ for my taste. I also didn’t like the vibe of some areas – particularly on the metro and on the Las Ramblas. I had to keep my belongings close and felt like I had to be very aware of my surroundings. We even saw a guy get off the metro who had been pick pocketed, yelling ‘my wallet, my wallet!’.
Stay tuned for posts on Sagrada Familia and the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria!