Back in October we found ourselves in a position with spare holiday, no kids to look after and a carefree and footloose mentality. Add all that together and you end up with a long weekend in Barcelonaaaaa!
Before we get into the details, let us just tell you about the problems we faced before we picked Barcelona. When you only have a limited, and definitive, period of time that you are able to travel and have a local airport to fly from, the number of destinations that you have for a mini break are limited. Flying out on a Saturday and coming back on the Tuesday we were limited to Barcelona, Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
As charming as Rotterdam (no doubt) is, it didn’t have the same charms as Barcelona and Amsterdam just didn’t feel like what we were looking for. The chance of getting a little bit of late Autumn sun was too good to turn down.
We flew with Vueling, a first for us both, and noticed that there was a lot of negative chatter on the way out and home about the service. I have to say, we had no issues at all. I think that anyone that complains about the service that they receive on a low cost airline needs to get a grip. If you are paying £60 to get to Spain in an aeroplane, you have to assume that you won’t be getting champagne, foie gras, six feet of leg room and a shoulder rub. The flights were on time, the staff were friendly, the plane didn’t crash and we set off and landed in airports close to both city centres. For £60 you could just about drive to London and park for a half day. Rant over!
When we landed, we got the train to the city centre (only a few Euros each) and then walked the half mile to our Hotel, the Hotel Ciutat Barcelona. We felt perfectly comfortable walking the streets, despite the late hour and despite the fact that we arrived at a major train station that are often not in the best parts of town.
We arrived pretty late in the day but the staff were friendly and the reception was perfectly clean and smart looking. The room was everything that you could ask for and the free and unlimited bottled water in the hotel was very welcome. The WiFi was free and fast and the balcony looking out onto the street gave a lovely view onto normal life of the locals.
As I have said in earlier posts, Titchy Feet isn’t great at planning and organisation and that is where Titchy Feet excels. More than ever, we were both thankful of that when Titchy had organised tickets to see the tour of the Sagrada Familia. When we got there, after a pleasant walk from up from the city centre, the queues were enormous and there were a lot of red faced tourists shouting at the staff as they were ‘only in Barcelona for one day and we CAN’T come back tomorrow’. If you don’t book up, you won’t get in so be warned!
For those that don’t know, the Sagrada Familia is a church that began construction in 1882 and is still not finished. A part of me wanted to blame Mediterranean work ethic and long siestas, but as soon as you see it, you understand why. The architect was Antoni Gaudi who was killed by a street tram outside of the church in 1926 and, the hope is, that the work will be completed on the centennial anniversary of his passing. It is HUGE.
It feels as if every single square inch of the vast building is considered, meaningful, relevant and beautiful. To have visited the place without going on the guided tour, you would have missed so much, it was the best use of €24 that we could have found.
I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but this was an amazing tour, a testament to the talent of mankind and the beauty that we can create. Many people have devoted their lives to finishing the plans Gaudi created and I would love to think that, one day, I would be able to return to see it completed.
The next day Titchy had bought us tickets to see Gaudi’s other project in Barcelona, Park Guell. Again, we had paid for the tour and it was worth it, but this time for very different reasons. The guide was a Catalonian gent, early 60’s I would say, and he was terrible but so terrible that he was hilarious! We didn’t learn a huge amount about the place but it felt like were in the middle of a Fast Show sketch.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great walk around the park in the sunshine and we really enjoyed it, but after spending the previous day walking around Sagrada Familia, I think we were both a little overfilled on Gaudi by that point.
In the morning, we had a walk around town. We pottered down the famous Las Ramblas, although I’m not too sure what it’s famous for. I think it’s knocked off Barcelona or Real Madrid football kits and iced drinks. Nothing too exciting to see but one of those places that you have to visit just to say you have done!
We wandered down to the port to look at the posh boats and cruise ships in the harbour before taking a trip on the Telefericos De Barcelona. It was a lovely trip, with great views of Barcelona, and it ended up in a lovely park looking over the city.
In between our culture trips, the meals were lovely and pretty reasonably priced and the whole vibe of the city was really nice. Every corner that we turned there seemed to be something happening or something to see and we didn’t bump into anyone that was rude or unpleasant all the time that we were there.
A lovely city break, I will be back when its finished!