My first trip to Barcelona was when I was studying in Aix-en-Provence, France in the summer of 2007. A group of us signed up to ride a coach bus along the Mediterranean coast to Barcelona. Since our group was 8 to 10 females, it was hard to split up based on interests. For me, it meant drinking coffee at Starbucks, shopping, and walking around aimlessly. We would go to the clubs at night. I do not remember seeing much of the city’s tourist attractions. I did sign up for a double-decker City Bus Tour the one day. However, I was scared to get lost in a country I did not speak the language, which kept me riding the circular loop of attractions with views from the bus.
Riding the City Bus Tour
With a mediocre experience under my belt, I was accepting to revisit a place I have been before. With flights for roughly $320 RT from JFK, who could resist? My flight from Cleveland to JFK doubled my airfare for the trip, but I was able to use frequent flyer miles. Talk about a low budget trip to Europe! I was excited for a road trip in Spain.
Roughly four years later, I was able to visit Barcelona “right.”
We stayed at Hostel One Sants, which was a metro ride to the main attractions.
Chad waiting on the metro to take us downtown.
I finally got to see the Sagrada Familia. We took the metro and paid the high admission fee to enter. I walked around taking in all the architectural designs. This was one regret I had from my previous trip that I was fortunately able to remove. Here are a few pictures:
We then walked around Barcelona and passed Casa Mila, another one of Gaudi’s designs. With familiarity of the city coming back, I couldn’t help but take a stroll down memory lane. Chad’s friend Chris was living in Spain and was meeting up with us to tour Barcelona. We stopped to see if he was at his hostel. As soon as we opened the doors, I realized this was the same hostel I stayed in when I was in Barcelona: Equity’s Centric. Oh the memories!
We left him a note and headed to La Rambla. The Mercat de Sant Josep/ La Boqueria has many options to pick from, including, fruits, raw meats, prosciutto, cheese, etc. The market was extremely crowded, so we stayed long enough for a walk through and a snack. We continued down La Rambla to see all the living statues. It was impressive some of the positions the statues could hold without moving.
When looking for a restaurant with tapas, we stumbled into Plaça Reial: a cute little plaza with character. While drinking sangria at La Cococha, we ate tapas as we planned the rest of our day . We walked off our delicious snack along the sandy beaches before heading back to the hostel.
After a little downtime, we headed back to the city for drinks and dinner. We started at Mikel Etxea. Then bought beer in the streets from locals trying to make some money. The Ciutat Vella (Old City) had narrow, cobblestone streets that wound through the city. We stumbled into Plaça Reial again. The police came and talked to the guys that still had beer cans on them. The police argued with Chris, who had been living in Spain for months now and could converse with them to convince the police not to charge them. The only punishment was to pour out the beer in their cans.
Plaça Reial in daylight.
We continued to walk through the streets when a lady smacked her lips and made kissing sounds at the boys. I continued walking ahead. Andy caught up to me and told me the lady grab hold of him. She smacked his butt as he broke free and sprinted to catch up to me.
Our next stop was Casa del Aguelo for more drinks. We saw a bachelorette party dressed like the pink ladies from the Grease musical. Andy and I then headed back to the hostel to let the single guys explore more of the city on their own.
The next day, we passed through the Arc de Triomf to get the the Parc de la Ciutadella, where the locals sat out to soak up the sun and spend time with their friends. Slack lines were attached to trees as daring individuals would walk or do tricks on the line.
We ordered more tapas and drinks at La Nostra as we laughed and learned more about Marie and Jo, who were French and Swedish visiting from London. After eating the tapas, The Black Horse appealed to us for its outdoor tables set up on a pedestrian, cobblestone street. The mojitos were delicious.
After drinks, we headed back to the hostel to waste some time before dinner. It was a hard adjustment to eat at 10 pm, along with the time change. Mosquito Tapas Exoticas received excellent reviews on Yelp, so it was time to try some Chinese tapas with an excellent beer selection. I enjoyed a Guineu Coaner, which is a local brew. Even though we were not sure what dumplings and tapas we ordered, most of them were savory with one being goat meat. After dinner, Andy and I decided to head back to the hostel to pack our bags for our departure, while Chris and Chad explored Barcelona’s night scene.
With one last attempt for sightseeing, Andy and I woke early and headed to Parc Güell. With rumbling stomachs, we stopped at El Canari and both had Estrellada. Barcelona’s food was not lacking taste. It was an egg scramble with hollandaise sauce and veggies. This allowed us to waste time before the park opened.
We walked up the hill to enter the park. Fortunately we arrived early before any tour buses or crowds. We were able to enjoy the architecture without dodging the crowds or haggling with street vendors. From the top of the park, the Turó dels Tres Creus (the Hill of the Three Crosses) was visible. Without enough time to walk there, we headed back to the hostel to meet with Chad, who picked up the rental car and checked us out of the hostel.
I wouldn’t have done either of my visits to Barcelona differently. I realize that each were learning experiences in disguise. After looking at my pictures from my last trip, I strolled through memory lane to remember I went to the Opera y Flamenco and the Museu Picasso de Barcelona.Those two experiences would have taken some persuasive negotiating with the guys to go. Some destinations are best revistied depending on who you are traveling with.
Opera y Flamenco
We had an enjoyable stay in Barcelona and were ready to explore more of what Spain had to offer.
What is your favorite Barcelona attraction?
More in this series:
- Spanish Architecture
- Valencia – the “c” is Pronounced as “th”
- Traditional Paella in El Palmar
- The Alhambra
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