Barcelona, our first stop on the Spain trip. We arrived here from Santorini, Greece.
Funny story, there was a shuttle bus waiting between the little Airbus A320 and the gate at Santorini airport. The “Gold class” passengers got on to the bus. The bus did a circle around the plane. And stopped at the same place where the bus was originally parking. It was hilarious to watch. From Santorini airport, the plane took 40 minutes to reach Athens. Then Athens to Barcelona in 4 hours. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon at Barcelona airport. The airport is really big. We took a metro to get to the city centre of Barcelona. And to reach our hotel on foot.
The neighbourhood of our hotel resembled the same style of Napoli. Narrow streets. Little dirty. And people were drying clothes outside the windows. The hotel was not bad. It’s a 24 hours reception. We had to drop our keys every time we leave the hotel. And 20€ deposit for the TV remote. However, it gets loud in the late night. Till early morning. Unless we closed the window. But, if we do so, the room gets dry due to lack of ventilation. Our only option was to leave windows open and put the earplugs in to have a decent sleep.
That evening, we had Asian food for dinner and our first litter of sangria. Which we actually had mistaken for a Spanish restaurant. And then came back to the hotel with a couple of bottles of water and snacks for the morning.
Our first day we decided to explore EIXAMPLE area. In this area, Gaudi lives during most of his career. And some of his world-famous creations are also within this area. We bought our tickets online for Casa Batllo in advance for 25 euros each. Walking from our hotel to the Casa Batllo was not too far. Even if it was, we didn’t mind. The walk permitted us to explore the city architectures and style of Barcelona. Big Footpaths and Cycle lanes in the middle of the big roads are a common thing in Barcelona. Many of its buildings and people are colourful and have distinguished designs. They were certainly eye-catching. We also passed by one of the Faculties of the University of Barcelona. Eventually, we reached the Casa Batllo. And Casa Amatller. It is difficult to miss. Even from outside, both buildings had that unique look with Gaudi’s signature styles.
A Multimedia audio guide was included in our tickets. Essentially, we could point the guide in any direction and the guide would give us an audio-visual explanation. The pictures would tell a lot more details about Casa Batllo. From the roof of the Casa Batllo, the view of Barcelona was not bad. But, it’s not a panoramic view.
We didn’t visit Casa Amatller which was right next door and Casa Mila which was not far. Time was limited in our hands and so was the budget. Barcelona is not a cheap city. We also took a pause at the compound of Casa Terradas. A beautiful building which was very eye-catching. And another signature of Catalan architecture.
Our next stop, Park Guëll was named after Eusebi Guëll, a Catalan politician and industrialist. He assigned his friend Antonio Gaudi to design the park. Park Guëll is situated on the Carmel Hill. And it is a world Heritage site. Our hard work of coming to here had paid off. Park Guëll has the best panoramic view of Barcelona. From here, La Sagrada Familia and Agbar Tower (a big toy shaped high-rise building of Modern Barcelona) were clearly visible. Interestingly, we saw a paid entry for the museum in the park, probably including the terrasse with the design branches. From there people supposedly could get a view of Barcelona. We found it funny. Because there were other parts of the park from where we could also get a better view. The park is also home of many different birds and trees. A nice place to spend good times.
From Park Guell, we took a metro to Camp Nou. The home of FC Barcelona, Barcelona Handball Club and Barcelona Basketball Club. The football stadium from outside looks like any other typical stadiums. Big. Also, there are merchandise shops and tickets Counters. As much as we wanted to look inside the stadium, it was hard to justify the 30 euros per person tickets. Instead, we bought a ticket for a Handball championship game between Barcelona and another Team. And tickets were only 30 Euro for 2 person. The arena for Handball and Basketball is the same.
We had about 2 hours in our hands. So, we headed for Palau Reial or Pedralbes Royal Palace in English. Which is situated on the other side of the Barcelona University Biology faculty. Essentially, it is a beautifully designed natural park and a big palace-style building in the middle of the park. The Guëll family was the owner of this park. And Antonio Gaudi designed some parts of the park. Later this park became the property of the Royal family of Spain. Because Guëll gifted this park to the royal family.
Then we came back to Camp Nou for our Handball match. Barcelona Handball Club has 4 members of the French National Handball Team. But we did cheer for the whole Barcelona team. The game was exciting. We shouted, clapped, screamed a little bit. The arena was not completely full though. However, Barcelona won in the end. We stopped at a local shop to buy some bread and meat to make homemade sandwiches. It was a long, eventful and expensive day for us.
We baught tickets to visit la Sagrada Famila cathedral and one of its Tower. The Nativity Tower was what Antonio Gaudi had finished. So we picked that tower to climb. La Sagrada Familia is the most visited Monument of Spain. And a World Heritage site. The biggest creation of Antonio Gaudi and it’s still not completed. Antonio Gaudi could not lived to finish his work. He died in 1926 by a tram accident. That was almost 100 years ago! La Sagrada Familia was our last stop of the day.
Finally, La Sagrada Familia. We waited at the park nearby before our entry. From outside it was already impressive. Because of the size and design. Big cranes were on top and constantly working. Security was understandably very strict there. We tried to learn as much as we could from the audioguide. Lucky for us, there was a lift to reach to the top of our tower. And 6 persons at a time. There was a little bridge which connects the two of the towers. Top parts of the stairs were too narrow. So, it was impossible to stop, take time and look through the windows if there were someone waiting behind us. Rest of the stairs were little bigger. But , my head started to spin in the end of the stairs.
After our memorable visit to La Sagrada Familia, we took a pause for coffees and Churros and headed back home by metro. Later in the afternoon, I went for a haircut which costed me 14 euros. My barber was an Argentinian man living in Barcelona for 10 months. He could speak very decent English, thanks to his Dutch girlfriend with whom he has been dating for last one month. Huh! The power of women!
Our last day of Barcelona included mostly strolling around the city. First stop was the most famous market in Barcelona, La Boqueria. It is a large public market Which is located close to the Opera House, and with an entrance from the La Rambla (a Famous treelined street of Barcelona). This market has extraordinary selections of all kinds of Spanish food and drinks. We walked around a little bit here, had some delicious snacks and juice. Then at La Rambla, We stopped for some coffee, Irish coffee and Churros. Then we walked on the La Rambla to the direction of Port of Barcelona. It contains a big shopping centre. We walked on the harbour through the shopping centre. Took a break on the other side of the port, where a lot of small and big yachts were parked. A lovely and peaceful place.
We then walked passed by the oldest post office of Barcelona to the old gothic quarter and the surrounding parts of the quarter. The narrow streets resembled a little bit of the streets of NAPLES. They were beautiful and colourful. A great location for street photography. We walked inside an old building near the cathedral. We didn’t enter the cathedral though because it was ticketed only. This and the surroundings of the Cathedral was already impressive. From the old town, we walked back to La Rambla. And then headed straight to home.
We booked a life-saving Thai massage for that evening. Which cost us about 60 euro per person. Honestly, best Thai massage we have had in a very very long time. The massage was expensive and every penny was worthwhile. Our bodies became tender and we slept like babies.
NEXT STOP: VALENCIA