After yesterday’s food delirium entering the Boqueria market, I thought I’d share some of my favourite snapshots of my stay in Barcelona. Just to make you realise how much you want to go if my post about the market wasn’t enough (but who am I kidding?)
I was really nervous about my trip when I was planning it (yes, I plan everything, even a three day getaway – spent my time at work with my nose in a handy guide). Indeed, first time traveling on my own to a place where I knew nobody, didn’t speak the language and I popped my hostel cherry! The hostel where my friends and I were staying, Downtown Paraiso was absolutely lovely and I totally recommend it if you plan on spending a quick student vacation in Barca. People are nice, the place is clean, well located and actually pretty with its big terrace reserved for people staying at the hostel only.
Some friends from Oxford joined me at the hostel and we did a bunch of stuff together but what I loved the most about this quicky stay: being on my own.
-> Exploring the old town, the Park Montjuic; sitting in the sun by myself in a garden or patio where – surprisingly – there’s none around, not even a single tourist (true story); taking my time in galleries and museums to look at things and appreciate beauty.
[view from the Miro Foundation]
Finding peace. Practicing my Spanish. Tasting food. Letting the sun kiss my skin.
Am I sad for enjoying being on my own? I usually really need people in my life because I hate being lonely. But alone, away from everything, everything that is known, it was a wonderful feeling of escape. I’ll do it again, or maybe with someone who I can share that experience with…
I already have my inter railing city journey ready. Hopefully, I’ll be able to accomplish it someday!
But back to Barcelona more specifically.
Spots you MUST go to!
-Sagrada familia. duh! Head there early to avoid the never ending queue and getting a ticket for the last slot at the end of the day. I didn’t like the cathedral on photos I had seen of it. Just because it’s the towers that strike the most from far. And I’m not a big fan of the towers, sorry Gaudi. HOWEVER, once you get to it, the details of the work in the stone from close, and the inside are absolutely mind blowing. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Seriously. Don’t forget your student card! Student discount ;)
-Not far from the Sagrada Familia, there’s a hospital. The Hospital de St Pau. Take the detour once you have your ticket to enter the cathedral but have 45 minutes to kill.
-Still in the theme of Gaudi: Park Guel. It’s a long walk to the top. But it’s worth it. Make sure to get lunch long before you come near the park, the only cafes you’ll find are tourist traps (but I won’t stop you if you want to spend €6 on a sandwich). The view is gorgeous, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.
-Last Gaudi related spot you MUSt go to: the Palau Guel. It’s the house Gaudi designed and built for the Guel family. I would have liked my last name to be Guel and live in that palace. The details in every bit of the house, including the ornaments of the ceiling and the peepholes, Gaudi didn’t leave anything out when he conceived this urban palace.
-Picasso museum. Again, go early. We showed up 15 minutes after the opening and we queued for 3 minutes (free entrance if you come from a famous university, thanks Oxford!) but when we left, 2 hours later, the queue went on and on and on till much further down the street. My favourite bit of it: the first rooms where you can see Picasso’s first approach to different movements (realism, portraits, impressionism) before cubic art and of course, the room with all his work on Velasquez’s Las Meninas. Incredible. I’m usually not a fan of cubic art but his various recreations of Velasquez’s work are amazing.
-Cathedral Santa Maria. 7 minutes away from the Picasso museum. It has nothing to do with the Sagrada Familia but has the beautiful charm of a local church with the gothic architecture of a cathedral.
-Montjuic Park. When I landed in boiling Barcelona, I hopped on a bus city centre bound. Halfway through the bus ride, as I was looking outside the bus window, I gaped at one of the most beautiful palaces I have ever seen in my life (will anything ever come close to Versailles? Ah Versailles…). I made it my goal to come back during my stay and I did. The best bit though? The gardens after the palace. Most tourists stop in front of it. Take photos and leave, without even knowing the Eden gardens hidden behind the imposing castle and its amazing fountains. Don’t miss out on them! Take a walk, sit on a bench, breathe the fresh air of the hill. And if you have time, stop by the Miro Foundation (that is if you’re into contemporary art).
And even if you don’t have time to do all of this, or do other stuff (so much more things I wish I had had time to visit) just look around you. The little streets. Explore! There are open patios, the Virreina palace is open and free entrance, the port and the beach are also great spots to finish off the day.
I had the most amazing time discovering this piece of Catalonia and Spain and wish you the same!