So I made it safely to the bustling city of Barcelona in the heart of Cataluña in Spain. It is hot and sunny which I guess I expected for the middle of June and there’s a lot going on which makes me happy.
First days in most places are lost days. What I mean by that is you travel to the place and are checking in to accommodation so you lose some time even if it is early and then, if you’re like me, you literally allow yourself to get lost. With a map and your address of course! I love the spontaneity of first days in new places and that going where you feel drawn to sometimes really pays off.
So my tip for Barcelona is definitely get a map (the streets seem very similar) and invest in a BCN card. This is an unlimited journey card and you can get it for different lengths of time. I got a 4 day card and will make use of buses and the metro during my stay as well as getting back to the airport. My card cost 23 Euros but other cheaper tickets are available and can be for a certain number of journeys to match your type of travel.
The two places I wanted to see straight away were the Sagrada Familia and then the beach.
There is a metro stop at the Sagrada Familia and I was staying one stop away so it was easy to get there. I strolled through the street and took my first look at the cathedral. It was huge and unfinished from the sight of the cranes hovering over it. I had no idea it would be so modern in its art work and incredibly detailed. Full size human figures adorned the entrance.
Walking through the park opposite was a refreshing change to the hustle and bustle across the road. The jacaranda trees were in full bloom and you get glimpses of the cathedral through the trees which is beautiful.
I found out that the entrance fee is over 20 Euros which is a lot for one site and on a budget. I asked some other travellers if it would be worth going in and was told it was a highlight. So that should be another post soon!
Next I travelled down to La Barceloneta to sample an afternoon on (and around) the beach. This mix of busy city and beaches/coastline is my favourite when I travel. Best of both worlds for your holiday.
Getting off the metro I walked across the street and parallel to the port. I followed a large group with beach towels obviously heading for some sun bathing. I ambled through the narrow streets taking in the small shops and bars. The street opened into a beautiful little square; Placa de Barceloneta. It has a lovely church and two restaurants with outside seating.
I decided to sample a paella from the menu del dia. This seems to be the cheapest lunch option with bread, a starter (I picked a salad), main course, desert and drink for around 8-10 Euros. It is filling and a great way to try a few dishes. My whole meal was delicious and the seafood in the paella was particularly great.
Then there was a glorious beach! The sun, sea and sand does not disappoint. It is a very busy beach but I found a quieter spot and lay enjoying some sun undisturbed. For quiet beaches with less people, I was given the advice to travel slightly further down the coast but I enjoy being around people and lots of things going on.
Overall, a great first day exploring a small part of Barcelona! More tips and highlights to come. Stay tuned!