We arrived in Barcelona around 1pm and could feel the heat straight away. It reminded me of stepping off the plane in Florida, many years ago.
Initially we thought about renting a car, so we spent a little time investigating rental prices. It looked like it would be around 300 euros, so maybe not. Instead we got a taxi to the hotel, somehow this cost us 20 Euros even though his display said 10? Nevermind, we at least avoided the 10 minute storm that began almost exactly as we stepped into the hotel lobby. This was the only rain to fall all week, and an hour later you would would never have known it had rained at all.
First objective was to find dinner. We decided on the easiest option, the hotel restaurant, which it turned out was perhaps a little posh for us. I had ribs, Nurcan some fairly plain pasta and pesto… 55 euros please! The highlight of the meal was Octopus tentacle for starter! We didn’t know when we ate it, Nurcan was not so pleased, I had another! It was fishy, but subtle in flavor, but with an odd, chewy texture to it.
We then went to walk off some of dinner with a walk round the park behind the hotel. Tiring stuff so siesta time following that!
Around 7pm we took our first metro journey into the centre of Barcelona. Their metro seems quite clean, safe and more importantly, it’s air conditioned! Also kinda strange you get a cell signal while down there. All round Barcelona seems to be a strong H data connection, although I did find this dropped away to almost nothing when further out of Barcelona.
We arrived at Catalunya, quite a nice looking square. A short walk and Nurcan spotted the golden arches of McDonalds which, after our odd lunch, we just couldn’t resist. It looked very busy so we were both surprised how quick the touch screen ordering worked. By the time we walked down to the counter, our food was waiting!
We then took a walk to the Arc de Triomf. Not quite as impressive as the French version, but still very pretty area. We sat and relaxed in the park while the sun went down.
Up around 8 and off we went to breakfast. Nurcan went with a continental, I had a bit of everything! Jam on toast, full English followed up with a chocolate covered waffle. We found breakfast to be one of the best meals we had through the week.
When I told people I was going to Barcelona, the only place people said I needed to go was to the home of Barcelona football club, the legendary Nou Camp. We paid the necessary 21€ for the walk round the stadium, and very good it was too. Whilst I know very little of football in general, the trophies and displays were very impressive. The stadium itself is quite large, the impressive thing being how close you feel to the pitch even when up in the rafters of the roof.
This took us to almost 2pm, so off we went to find a cafe for lunch. A quick snack and then a short metro ride to the cathedral designed by famous Spanish architect Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia. It would have looked better if it hadn’t had so much scaffolding and cranes around it. We decided not to queue to go in, opting for a Starbucks instead, making use of their free WiFi to upload some photos from the day.
It had been quite a lot of walking so back to the hotel. We found a small supermarket to stock up a few drinks then headed to the park behind the hotel to sit in the sun for a while. It was almost 5pm by now, but still the sun felt strong enough to burn me if I stayed in it too long, so it was only around 30 minutes before we headed back to the hotel.
After a small siesta we headed back to Catalunya and McDonalds before taking a stroll down La Rambla, a famous stretch of Barcelona with stalls, cafe’s, street performers and lots of other people trying to sell you things! The bottom of La Rambla is marked by a column with Columbus stood a top, looking out over the sea. We walked along the dock and up towards the park we’d sat in the previous evening, before making our way home from the Arc de Triomf metro station.
One of the first things I’d spotted on the Barcelona skyline was a tall tower, apparently built in 1992 as a communications tower for the Olympics. After a search in Nurcan’s book, she found we can in fact go up in it for only 5 euros, to a height of 900 feet, the base of the tower already being 500 feet above sea level. With this in mind, we’d decided Wednesday morning we’d make the trek out their, and a trek it was! Two tubes, one train (well, two… the first one we were in a carriage that didn’t open where we needed to get off!) a funicular journey and a 30 minute hike up hill!
Eventually we made it and rather impressive it was too. A glass elevator takes you up to the observation deck, from there you can see right the way across Barcelona. It was a shame we picked the one cloudy day of the week, but at the same time it was amazing to see the clouds glide through us and away again.
For the return trip, we decided to wait the 30 minutes for the bus and save our legs. The journey home still took around 1½ hours, so it was well past time to eat by the time we got back to the Hesperia. We decided to go to ‘365’ a Cafe just behind the hotel. In our hungry state, the sandwiches where the best things we’d eaten in years!
After our exertions of the day, we chose a quiet evening, a meal in the hotel restaurant and then watch a movie in our room in the evening.
Still rather exhausted from the walking yesterday we fancied an easier day today, so off we went to the Beach! Barceloneta apparently won an award from the Discovery Channel as the worlds best Urban Beach and also came 3rd in their best beach in the world. Unfortunately, with our hotel out near the airport, it was still an hour journey, but was well worth it when we got there. Two hours we spent on the beach and I have to say, the view made the time fly by! It was long enough to turn various parts of me very pink, even after I’d put sun lotion on! Back to the hotel for another snack at 365.
In the evening we set off to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, a huge fountain that comes alive at 9pm on certain evenings. We arrived before 8pm and there were already people setting up for the show. We grabbed a drink and took a seat to wait along with them. It was still light as the show started, but it continued on as the sun set and as it got darker the lights came on, illuminating the jets of water in a variety of different colours giving an amazing effect. We stayed until a short while after 10pm before heading back to the hotel.
Time to get packed! We had to check out by 12 but where able to leave our luggage with the hotel until later so we headed into Barcelona one last time. We made our way to the Zoo where we spent over 3 hours looking round, including the seal show and dolphin show. They had a good array of animals, gorilla’s, lions, vultures, monkeys, turtles, bears… everything you would expect from a good Zoo. It was rather expensive at 16,50 Euros each, but well worth it.
As we exited the Zoo, we sat for 10 minutes to make use of Barcelona’s free WiFi to place an Ocado order, so we would have some food in the house over the weekend. I also used Foursquare to find out there was more to this park than we’d seen. There was a lake, beautiful fountain and a momoth to climb on!
Back to the hotel after one more snack at 365 and luckily enough we were offered a shuttle bus to the airport, to start us on our journey home.
All in all I thought Barcelona was a very beautiful city, perhaps a little less flashy than other cities, but generally very clean, with some fantastic looking buildings and, at least while I was there, perfect weather.