360° Barcelona

Since I’m living in small and exciting Europe I thought I should start to explore this continent in another way than the usual holidays with my parents. So I told my sister we she was coming with me and booked a flight to Barcelona.
Now my sister hasn’t been on a plane for years so she was pretty excited. We arrived in Barcelona in the evening, and everyone who’s been there knows that the airport is not exactly located in the centre. After almost 2 hours spent in a train and the metro we arrived at our hostel. Public transport in this city is simply amazing. Shortly after we left the airport  on the train we were entertained by a rapper and a guy who played the accordion.
Our hostel “pillow one” was located in the beautiful “barrio gótico” (the Gothic quarter) close to the harbour and to “la rambla” (the famous tourist and night life street). I can really recommend this hostel even though it is in the 4th floor of the building and you have to take the stairs (73 steps). Staff is super friendly, it’s clean, small, you get free wifi and breakfast (typical hostel breakfast but with a variety fruit juice and doughnuts!) and the roof top terrace offers an amazing view. In our 6 days, we shared our 4bed dorm with people from Australia (yay :D), India, Russia and Vietnam but the hostel was definitely dominated by French.

Our trip was made up of the usual things. Sight seeing, beach and shopping. Arriving from cold Germany we decided we had to get used to the 30+ degrees slowly, spending the first day at the beach “La Barceloneta”, one of the most popular (e.g. crowded) beaches of the city. Even though I am not the person to ever fall in love with over-crowded city beaches… with the sun in my face, waves pushing me from side to side and the salty air in my lungs I soon was beyond happy. Back at the hostel we enjoyed our dinner on the roof top terrace with a view over the barrio gótico in the orange light of the afternoon sun.

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In Spain eating habits are slightly different to what I am used to. You have lunch at around 3pm (almost coffee time at home!) and dinner at 10 (I could never wait that long :o). Afterwards you go out and don’t return until early in the morning. We didn’t totally adapt to this lifestyle, however we went out after dinner  in order to explore the “barrio gótico”. After a quick stop at a froyo shop we strolled through the small streets passing Placa de Sant Jaume with the Palace of Catalan autonomy government, the remainders of a Roman defence wall and the beautiful Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia. We almost got lost in the Jewish quarter “El Call” before getting to Placa Catalunya on the north end of La Rambla. In search for a nice place to have some cocktails we got caught by a promoter who guided us to “Club Living” just off the main street where we got free shots for the purchase of one cocktail each. We probably could have spent less money but you have to get caught in a tourist trap every now and then 😛

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The next day was “power sight seeing day”. Since the sights are spread all over the city we had quite an area to cover. Being smart girls, we bought the T10 ticket with ten rides for metro, train or bus which was enough for our whole stay. We started our tour at Park Güell. This park was designed by Antoni Gaudí, whose influence is noticeable all over Barcelona. Located on a hill, you have an amazing view over the city. Following the paths down towards the main entrance you pass villas, bridges, columns and other constructions in the typical style of colourful mosaics and wave-like shapes.
Staying on Gaudí’s trail, we went to see the most famous cathedral of Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. The largest and last project of Gaudí – he died in 1926 before the cathedral could be finished – is still in construction. On our way back to the city centre we passed more of his artwork e.g Casa Batllò and La Pedrera. You can not only not miss these buildings because of their shape but also because of the huge crowd of tourists in front of them..
Treating ourselves for having accomplished our mission of the day, I got beer at McDonald’s (yes they do sell beer in Spain!), we went out for dinner at the esplanade (tried my first sea food paella:) and ended the day chilling on the beach.

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The following day was supposed to be a bit more relaxed. We took the funicular railway to the base of Montjuic, a hill in the south-east of Barcelona. Instead of getting to the top by teleferic  – the aerial railway – we saved money and walked, mostly in plain sun at around 35°. Anyway, we are young enough and it is a way better feeling to walk up a hill instead of just getting on and off an air-conditioned cabin.  Turned out it was more than worth it. Breathtaking views of the city accompanied us, including the harbour, the cargo port,  the northern suburbs in the distant mist of the sea, and even the airport in the south of Barcelona. The castle on top of the hill, Castell de Montjuic, is free to visit and offers an amazing 360° view of everything I mentioned before. I thought, Park Güell was my favourite spot and hard to beat, but now I know better.
In the early afternoon we made our way back down towards the metro station at Placa Espanya since we hadn’t been there before. We passed the Museum of National Art of Catalunya, a massive and very impressive building overlooking the Placa. Take the stairs (or the escalator) down towards an array of pools and fountains with the “Font Màgica”, the magic fountain, in the middle and in front of everything. During the day there is nothing magical about it but at night the fountains come alive in different colours with music in the background and it is truly spectacular.
We ended this day chilling at the harbour with two McFlurries and a spontaneous photo shoot in front of Barcelona’s “skyline”.

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Our second last day was declared shopping day. Walking up and down La Rambla and Passeig de Gràcia, we found a few cool and surprisingly cheap shops. My favourite is called “Stradivarius” and I would have bought every single item twice… if I had had enough money 😉 The Hard Rock Café was my highlight. I found this amazing black top for my collection 😀

We spent our last day in this amazing city on the beach. However, this time we went further to get away from most of the tourists. Turned out to be the best decision of the day. The beach was less crowded and the waves were huge! Exactly what I was looking for. There was an outdoor gym area just next to the showers on the beach so after all the chilling in the sun we also did a little work out. Very little. Already a bit hungry we got on the bus wanting to head back to the hostel. Haha. We got on the right bus but into the wrong direction. We noticed it way too late and decided the best thing was to stay on it until it turned and brought us to where we wanted to go. Well, it didn’t turn. An hour later it stopped somewhere in the northern suburbs where we had to get off. Luckily the next bus to the centre didn’t take long to arrive. Another hour later we made it back home. Almost starving, we quickly changed and went out with our Vietnamese room mate to get dinner. We were seated in a fancy looking restaurant on Placa Reial where we ate pretty average burgers. Walked down to the harbour one last time to soak up the beauty of Barcelona at night before we got back to pack our bags. We checked out at 5.30am after roughly 3 hours of sleep and made our way to the airport.

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