My Year Abroad

Barcelona

Barcelona was a city of dreams. I’ve never been in a place where the people are so friendly, relaxed and welcoming. There was also excellent food, spectacular buildings and  I had plenty of opportunities to practice my Spanish.

We booked our accommodation via Air B & B and it worked out a lot cheaper than even a hostel would have been. It was also in a prime location, in the middle of everything that we would see during our visit.

Our hosts were a Mexican couple and nothing we asked was too much trouble. They are, in part, the reason why our trip was so successful.

Before we even arrived, they were eager to share details of what were, in their opinion, the best Barcelona attractions. This meant that before we even got there I could research, plan and book how we were going to spend our holiday.

Booking was an absolute blessing for all of the Gaudí tours. Online, you can buy ‘skip the queue’ tickets which allow you to enter the building at a certain time and avoid the monster of a line at the ticket office. It was so much less stressful to be able to know that at 11:30 you would be in Park Guell and by 14:00 you would probably be finished there and could move on to the next attraction.

Apart from the Gaudí attractions, everything else we decided to do during our four days there was free.

Our greatest find whilst in Barcelona was definitely The Bunkers. Following a map, we managed to climb to one of the highest points in Barcelona. The Bunkers were difficult to find, the map seemed to point to roads that didn’t exist but then, just as we were about to turn back, I noticed a sign at the bottom of a set of steps.

Fuelled by curiosity, we continued our climb until we arrived at the most breath-taking view I have even seen in my life; a full 360-degree view of Barcelona with even the Sagrada Familia as a tiny blob in a sea of buildings.

We also went to explore las Ramblas, a long strip within Barcelona where there are stalls selling souvenirs and then, hidden on the left is a large market where they sell all types of delightful food. We bought portable fruit salad and Gazpacho Andaluz and began browsing the many items each stall had on display.

Next, we visited the gothic part of Barcelona, home to the famous Barcelona Cathedral.  Stupidly, I hadn’t realised that the Cathedral would have a strict dress code and that my sleeveless dress and Sophie’s backless top would never be acceptable attire, regardless of the 33-degree heat just outside.  However, the exterior of the cathedral still served as an interesting contrast to the Sagrada Familia that we saw earlier that day.

The Sagrada Familia was wonderful. I didn’t think that I would love it quite so much as I did. The inside also really does look like a forest. I find it really hard to comment on the beautifully complex architecture but information points told me what I already knew; Gaudí used nature to create this wonderful masterpiece and took advantage of all the spectacular things that he believed God created.

You cannot capture the magic of that place in neither video nor photograph, although many tourists, including myself, were trying their best with the cameras, mobiles, and tablets. It was a very busy place, but I think that is what Gaudí would have wanted. Having dedicated the last few years of his life to this breath-taking place I was glad that there were thousands of people milling around trying to capture some of its beauty.

Park Guell is also spectacular. You can enter a part of it for free but the main part, with the famous salamander, has ticketed entry. Again, the park is very natural and you can see many elements of nature in it, including the many tree-like structures that are dotted all around the park.

Travel to the city wasn’t too costly either. We used Bla Bla Car on our journey both to and from Barcelona. It was a really relaxing experience and we were lucky enough to find someone who would drop us off directly at our door when the tiredness and holiday blues were slowly starting to sink in.

Barcelona was even better than I thought it would be, I can only dream that one day I’ll get to go back and do it all again.

 

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