With just over 48 hours in the city, some wonderful recommendations, high hopes for fabulous weather and great appetite for both, Gaudi’s architectural genius and Spanish food, we landed after sunset in Barcelona El- Prat. Around 30 minutes later we were in our hotel, ready to venture into the city in search of tapas.
After a brisk walk (nothing gives you more motivation than an empty stomach!) we ended up in Irati, a casual place filled with delicious drinks and tempting food. With a glass of white wine and varieties of tapas, it was time to fill those empty plates. Eat as much as you want and they will count the tiny sticks. Simple and satisfying. We walked back to the hotel down La Rambla– the heart of Barcelona and the main pavement of the city, full of flavours, colours, florists, pickpockets (so we were told, but thankfully never had to experience it!).
If you want me to be honest, La Rambla did not charm me at all! If you like to brush shoulders (literally) with a lot of people, then it is for you! I enjoyed it much more the very next morning, when I woke up with sunrise and walked La Rambla with just a handful of cleaners and people dashing to work for an early shift.
If you happen to be on La Rambla and I am sure that you will at some point while visiting Barcelona, you have to (I repeat you have to) visit La Boqueria market. Prepare yourself for the mixture of colours, smells, spices and edible delights you can think of! I strolled into the 19th century covered market just before 8 a.m. and could witness the sellers getting ready to start their day; the plethora of fruit, nuts, chocolate, smoothies. The choice was super difficult, so obviously I drank ‘my worries’ away with a refreshing cup of watermelon juice. Heaven! We kept coming back to fuel ourselves with more juice throughout the trip. How could we not?!
I kept turning into small streets just off La Rambla and taking little detours; one of the right turns will take you to a picturesque square. Quiet and calm early in the morning, Placa Reial is full of life and coffee drinkers during the day. It keeps buzzing with life till late hours of the evenings, so if you need a little break from the busy main pavement, this spacious square might give you just a little breather you need.
I’d heard and read that Barcelona have a great transport system- I am unable to confirm. We decided the weather was too glorious to spend a single minute on a bus or underground. We walked 36 kilometres the very first day! First we headed towards Park Guell; every single street and district hides little gems of picturesque corners. Gracia is particularly charming so make sure you make a small stop for a coffee, people and wisteria watching.
After a long but glorious walk, we arrived at probably second most famous park in the world (Central Park must be number 1!). The tickets for the day were already sold out (make sure you book online, if you’re hoping to take a picture in the most iconic (and very busy!) spot in the park)). The park is absolutely breath- taking! The architecture, the designs, the ideas! Just wander round, get lost on one of the paths, and do climb up to admire the panoramic views of Barcelona. You have to try very hard to keep walking smoothly; instead you find yourself halting in total awe of the colours, flowers, and intricate designs.
From Park Guell, there is only one path to follow- once you’ve embarked on the journey with one of the most acclaimed and talented architects of all times- Antoni Gaudi- you are hungry to see more of his masterpieces. Next stop- La Sagrada Familia cathedral (will you be surprised if I told you that the tickets were already sold out? I thought so.) and Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. The church is most definitely the most recognised and admired landmark in Barcelona; with work that started in 1883 and predicted to be finished around 2030- that’s what I call work in progress! With so many textures, twisted designs, intricate decorations and minute details you can keep staring at those buildings forever. They look like they belong to a fairy tale in the far away land. Don’t forget to look around though- there are beautiful surprises all over the city. Look up. Look down. Look around. Close your eyes. Dream.