A busy person's guide to Barcelona
While Barcelona was on the list, it had never been too high.
But the thing about Barcelona is, you have to visit it to get it. Looking at photos of Sagrada Familia is oh so very different to taking a seat and admiring the light from the scientifically-placed windows, reflecting off the opposite walls and floor.
As soon as you arrive, the whole pace changes.
There’s a bus that takes you away from the terminals every five minutes straight into town. Grab your bag off the bus rack at Plaça Catalunya and you are at the heart of central Barcelona.
Personally I recommend staying in the Gothic Quarter, it’s central, safe and has some incredible views if you look in the right places.
If you arrive in the afternoon, take a stroll towards the harbour and beach for a cheeky vino on the beach front. Aside from being wrapped up in a jacket and boots, it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly December.
The sunbeds are still in use, groups of people play volleyball and dog walkers catch up on the sea front. May I suggest some tapas and a beverage for the occasion?
As it’s low season, it is still possible to book certain things on the day. So after food and a breathe of sea salt air, make your way back into the old town. Take a wander and get a little lost in the many squares and side streets.
There are flamenco shows aplenty on La Rambla and down some of the bigger streets. Book on the evening and indulge in an authentic flamenco showcase.
When you wake up in the morning, be sure to go for a €1,50 coffee and croissant!
Then, maybe pop the umbrella in the bag and take a wander towards La Boqueria market. Some may say it’s lucky, some may say it isn’t so that only half the market is open but it doesn’t mean you won't get a feel for the energy. Maybe pick up a fruit juice or an elevenses pastry and slowly wander towards the famous Casa Battló.
This house is one of those have-to-see-it-to-get-it things. Standing outside it’s like any of the other Google and Instagram photos. Buy your ticket (online for a little cheaper) and pop on the audioguide and it’s like a new world.
Forget the metro and make sure you stop for an elevenses coffee, take a gander to Sagrada Familia. Again, buy your ticket online for a discount and wait to be ushered through security.
Once again, it’s another have-to-see-it-to-get-it things. Personally I like discussing information as you’re being told it, so purchasing one audioguide between two is a good option. The fun is in the detail, but also being able to slow down and appreciate the science behind its construction. *Note: definitely try to pick a sunny day to visit to fully appreciate the reflection of the light inside the building!
The brilliance of Barcelona is how much there is to explore. Consider taking a walk back to your accommodation in the Gothic Quarter. Take time to really take in the local side of this city.
Other places worth visiting are Parc Güell (walk around and through the top, down to the monuments), the Chocolate Museum (your ticket is a chocolate bar!) and the Music Hall (made to look and feel like a music box).
Maybe take an extra day for this one. In Barcelona, everything slows down. Take an extra day to really get in the mood of the city. Even on the airbus, the driver told me to be ‘tranquila’.
Eat (lots of tapas!), drink (lots of cava!) and wander (lots)! And you’ll gain a lot from this beautiful city of stories and secrets.
Could you do with some tranquila/o time?