Wednesday, 14 June 2017

TRAVEL: 72 Hours in Barcelona

Last month I went to Barcelona for three days.

It was a rash, spur of the moment thing and I experienced equal measures of nervousness and excitement whilst booking and being there (I'm not generally a great explorer type).

However, Barcelona is awesome. Totally awesome. And I think you should do exactly what I did and rashly book a trip there right now. Like now guys!

So why? I hear you ask. And what to do whilst we're there to make it worth a visit? Well, here's 10 things you MUST do:

We booked a Go Car for the afternoon of our first day. I thought that seeing as it's an individual tour guided experience and we'd never been to Barcelona, it'd give us some ideas of where we'd like to visit over the next couple of days - and it did. Basically you're given a three wheeled, two seater scooter to roam the city in. There is a guided tour with a really sarcastic, well scripted audio tour that explains the history and architecture around you. There are three different tours, we chose the Barcelona Experience and completely lost our way for four hours meaning we discovered some really intimate back streets of the city and found some amazing hilltop views. 

You need to book this ahead of your visit as you cannot get in from off the street without a pre-booked ticket. This place is an amazing feat of engineering and design. And if you like Gaudi's work, then you'd love it. For a first time visit, I would recommend it. But, it wasn't particularly to my taste - I expected a lot of history and explanations of why the building was created, but in the end it was just a bit too showy for me. I'd recommend it as an experience, but only if you don't mind spending the money. The views from the towers are spectacular too.

3. The Gothic Quarter
These streets totally enamoured us. Tiny alleyways filled with trinket shops and cafes serving tapas and unusual teas. We kept being drawn back to that area over the course of our trip and browsed and wandered until we couldn't feel our feet.

4. Use the Metro
Now, this might be a bit of a weird one to include on a Top Ten list, but the Metro saved us a hell of  a lot os money during the course of our visit. We got a 3 day pass for about €14.20 each - which also included the train route to the airport. If you think that for each journey it would have been a standard €1.90 and the airport journey was around €4 (the taxi would have been about €30 to our central hotel), over the course of three days flitting around the city, it let us cover ground quickly, easily and saved us time waiting for a taxi whenever we wanted to go a little further afield.

5. The Beach
Barcelona beach is beautiful. There are plenty of places to eat, sunbathe and relax. A beach is a beach at the end of the day, but an afternoon lazing around before finding some tapas was well spent.

6. Parc Güell
This was a great opportunity to see the city from above, it's so fricking high! So high there are outside escalators to help you get up the hill. We didn't pay to go into the Gaudi section, but wandered through the public park above and around it soaking up the landscape and views. Not to be missed.

7. Las Ramblas
This street is the epitome of tourism. It's packed with people and there are shops, markets, restaurants and theatres of all kinds. The Go Car experience took us along it and we were open mouthed with the amount of things happening down there! It has to be noted that the restaurants do charge a pretty penny for the same meals served in the Gothic Quarter for a fraction of the price, but the atmosphere and ability to people watch might sway that for you.

8. Museum Nationale of Catalunya
This is situated half way up Montjuic - which I'll come to in a moment. Even if you don't go inside, the building is beautiful and the view from the top of the steps is breathtaking. Inside there are three areas of artistic reference and although it's definately incomparable to such museums as the Louvre, I  still found it quite interesting and it passed an hour or so.

9. Montjuic
On the opposite side of the city to Park Güell is Montjuic - another rather high hill. On top of this is a castle, which for the €4 entry fee was well worth the money. There's a small museum inside which had a lot of interesting history presented throughout several rooms, but aside from that it's a perfect viewpoint to look out over the city from a different location. Your metro ticket will get you up the vernicular to the cable car starting point and then it's €12.50 round trip for a cable car up to the top and back. An afternoon well spent!

10. Tapas
Don't go to Spain and not try tapas! I wouldn't say it was a great alternative to an evening meal, but having a selection of little titbits to nibble on whilst drinking and Estrella and people watching on an afternoon is THE best thing about Spain, and Barcelona.

If you haven't been, you should definately go!

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