I’d love to say that Barcelona was a well planned out trip but basically myself and the other half fancied going away over the Easter Bank Holiday so we price checked a few top cities and Barcelona was the only one to come within budget.
That’s not to say I wasn’t excited to go- I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona and anyone I know who’s been has loved it. We travelled out of Dublin airport and flew with Aer Lingus for a bargainous £90 return each.
The other half had all the train details sorted and once we landed it was a 5 minute walk to the platform. We arrived late at night (but the trains were still running until after 11pm which was handy) and arrived into the main station- Barcelona Sants within 20 minutes.From there it was a short taxi journey (5-10 minutes) and a €9 fare to our hotel. Be mindful that although the taxis sit outside the train station, they still charge a fee for luggage, usually €2-3. I’m not sure why but we’d read previosly online that they do this and it happened on both our trips.
We’d booked the Hotel Melia Sarria for our stay- a 5* hotel in the Sarria district, close to the Barcelona FC ground, Camp Nou. I’d like to stress I cannot normally afford 5* but this was very reasonably priced (most likely as it is not completely central) and as a surprise I’d upgraded us to the ‘Romance Package’ following a sales email from the hotel. It included the following (copied from my email):
Superior city view room (king-size bed and Jacuzzi).
– Delicious strawberries with chocolate.
– A nice cold CAVA (sparkling wine).
– A romantic set for the Jacuzzi (with candles & aromatic bath salts).
– Free entrance to the Spa area
For €60 this was frankly a bargain. The room upgrade is to a junior suite with a huge bed, gorgeous views and a bathroom bigger than my living room. The bed was extremely comfortable and the views over the city stunning. Normally I book hotels via comparison sites as usually they come in less costly but on a whim I checked the price direct with the hotel and it actually came in a better price. There are definitely cheaper hotels in Barcelona but this was a treat (although a reasonably priced one). Like I said, I’m not normally a 5* kinda gal- well I am but my purse is more Primark than Prada. The Barcelona Sarria is a 5* that has all the trimmings yet remains welcoming and not daunting.
We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do over our trip and on the first day we headed straight into town at around 10am and boy was it busy!!! Stupidly it hadn’t really occurred to me that you know…if I’m off work and on Easter holiday, half the world would be too. Las Ramblas is always busy and an absolute tourist trap. I’ll be honest, it’s hellish but most of the sightseeing involves passing this point at some stage and there’s a lot to see so you may as well cave in and just do it. Keep your bag close to you- Barcelona is apparently full of pick pockets. We had no issues but everyone I spoke to about the trip warned me about them.
We visited the world famous market- Mercado De La Boqueria which was beyond busy, you could barely move but it’s a paradise for foodies. Packed full of fruit, seafood, cured meats, sweets and general yumminess, you’d be hard pressed to not find something you don’t want to eat. There are sit down restaurant stalls for those wanting to spend more time but we just wanted a look round and a bit of food for our day. Settling for some baguettes and water we moved on to walk the distance of Las Ramblas taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the beautiful gothic architecture. We walked around various areas (everything is well signposted for walking tourists) and checked out a lot of cathedrals including Santa Mara Del Pi which is beautiful.
We took a walk along the sea front and took a minute to take in the The Columbus Monument before heading down to the pier. Here you’ll find a shopping centre and A LOT of handbag and sunglasses traders offering Michaeal Kors, YSL and the usual…ehh…dodgey stuff. Then came my favourite part of the day and infact my trip – Parc Ciutadella. It’s simply beautiful. The only green space in Barcelona, this place is a haven. It also backs on to the zoo if you fancy a visit but the park itself was beautiful enough for me. The water fountain is possibly the best I’ve ever seen with beautiful carvings, clear blue water and ducklings swimming about with their mothers. Across the way of this beautiful attraction is a large pond where you can rent a row boat for €6 for 30 minutes. I was awful at rowing but the other half proved annoyingly proficient and we spent a relaxing half hour admiring the scenery and other people turning in circles.
We finished off the day at the Sagrada Família which is now in its 133rd year of construction. It’s certainly a mighty sight to behold (and very difficult to get into 1 photo!). After our mighty trek around we finshed the day at a nearby restaurant indulging in a shared paella and a jug of (very strong) Cava Sangria which I’m not ashamed to say left me quite tipsy!
To be honest we had managed to take in most of the sights we had wanted to on the first day and we were so tired we slept in until 10 and didn’t leave the hotel to closer to 12. Some might call this a waste but like i said, we’d seen most of what we’d wanted to and since we were looking to relax we didn’t really mind. We did want to take in a little more Gaudi so we visited the Palau Guell which to be honest didn’t do much for me other than the rooftop architecture and views.
I can’t go without mentioning the burger we had for lunch. Bacoa is worth a visit and by all means order ‘The Little Bacoa Burger’. You will not be disappointed!!!
We wandered around a little more. I really wanted to visit Casa Batllo – Gaudi’s residence which through the power of TripAdvisor looks absolutely stunning but the complimentary spa access was calling by this point and we made the executive decision to go and relax.We had diner that night in the nearby Italian ( La Tagliatella) which did an excellent pizza then came back to our room to enjoy the ‘romance package’ chilled Cava and strawberries dipped in chocolate which was divine and the perfect way to end our stay.
Normally I’m a lot more militant on my short breaks and refuse to miss out on anything but we’d taken the executive decision to take this one easy and a little pampering went down a treat. I even offered to go to Camp Nou with the other half but he was nonplussed. I think he secretly enjoyed the Turkish bath and pool too much to leave it.
– Most shops and shopping centres are closed on a Sunday (The Maremagnum Shopping Centre is the only open centre), restaurants will be open as normal however
– The metro is clean and safe (though stops are more sparse than London and Paris) – get a 10 journey ticket, this should cover you for a long weekend
– Be smart and wear sunscreen!
– Taxis are metered and are reasonably priced so if you’re tired, it won’t cost much to get one.
– Wear good shoes / trainers- normally I wear Converse and find my feet get very sore, this time I opted for my Nike trainers and the difference was incredible
– Don’t keep your wallet or phone in your pocket, make sure you have a secure across the body bag for your camera, money, hone etc.
– You don’t have to go by foot! Barcelona has a lot of ways of getting around and if you don’t fancy the walk there are tour buses, bikes for rent, tuk tuks and even segways for rent