Belle Michelle
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Barcelona: Days One to Five

Earlier this month I set off with my friends Paddy and Tim, and Paddy’s brother Rob on a trip to Barcelona for ten days. I took too many photos for one blog post, so the account will be split into two parts…

Monday 2nd September

I got up pretty early to make sure I had everything packed and ready to go; I must have checked to see if I had my passport a zillon times. I walked to Bournemouth train station and caught the train to Gatwick airport where we had a quick beverage before getting on the plane. Here’s me (in the middle) before takeoff trying my hardest not to look petrified, as I’m a pretty nervous flyer!

Before takeoff

After a very short 1.5 hour flight, we arrived in Barcelona at around 6pm local time. A car picked us up and took us to our apartment which looked upon the Parc de la Ciutadella, where we dropped our luggage off. Our apartment was on the 6th floor, which was quite a trek to get to via the stairs (I hate lifts) but it was a good workout! We each had our own room, and I bagsied the room with the double bed ­čÖé

We headed out to dinner after grabbing some essentials from the Supermercat around the corner. After wandering around for a bit we settled on one of many tapas bars.

Tuesday 3rd September

We all headed out late morning to walk through the park to the beach to see what it was like. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day. There is an impressive fountain in the park (called the Cascada) which we could see the top of from our apartment. Apparently it was partly designed by Gaud├ş (and mainly designed by Josep Fonts├Ęre), like a lot of things in Barcelona. I took a bit of time exploring the fountain, which wasn’t active at this time, but nice to look at regardless.

Front of the Cascada fountain Looking down from the Cascada fountain

We also came across this cog-type sculpture which was apparently designed by Antoni Clav├ę.

Cogwheel Sculpture by Antoni Clav├ę

We headed to the beach via a stop for ice cream – I had a mixture of chocolate/hazelnut and raspberry sorbet, which were both yummy.

Me eating ice cream

Before going to Barcelona, I didn’t even feature a beach into the equation, but the beach was quite nice (if a little stinky in parts); we took a paddle along the front, and it took me a little while to realise that the water was actually warm! Still, I wasn’t about to jump right in…

Along Barcelona's beach front Volleyball nets on Barcelona beach Paddling in the sea on Barcelona beach Barcelona beach

Eventually we headed back to the apartment to eat some lunch and have an afternoon nap. Early evening, we headed in the direction of La Rambla, which is a very popular pedestrian street, via a look at the Arc de Triomf on the way, which was just around the corner from the apartment.

Walking towards the Arc de Triomf The Arc de Triomf

Predictably, La Rambla was super busy, filled with stalls and people. It would have been easy to get pickpocketed here, which countless people warned me of beforehand, so I was extremely careful. We strolled down to Port Vell and Rambla de Mar, which is a pedestrian walkway into the harbour.

Rambla de Mar Port Vell Walking along Rambla de Mar

Seeking out a restaurant for dinner, we settled on one around the harbour area where we ordered a seafood platter, paella and copious amounts of wine wine before heading back. I’m not a fan of shelled seafood, but did manage to eat some baby squid and to peel a prawn for the first time with Paddy’s help ­čÖé

Looking at the pedometer on my phone, we had clocked up 11 miles of walking on this day!

Wednesday 4th September

We were determined to climb to the top of Montju├»c, which is a big hill we could see in the distance. We set out just before midday which probably wasn’t the best idea as it is the hottest part of the day, but I took a big bottle of water with me and slathered on the sunscreen.

Walking down Barcelona's streets towards Montjuïc

We walked across town via the market which was fantastic, and vowed to come back later on in the holiday to have a better look. Before starting up the hill, we had a cold drink in a cafe to cool ourselves down, and then stopped at a tiny tapas bar where the boys ordered a plate of unidentified meat and devoured it. I didn’t quite have the stomach for that, but I had an espresso to give myself a quick energy boost.

The hill climb was a nice walk through some gardens, and actually a lot easier than I had anticipated. We reached the top and went to check out the castle and the amazing views of the city.

The castle at the top of Montjuïc The top of the castle at Montjuïc View of Barcelona from Montjuïc View of industrial area of Barcelona from Montjuïc

After a while, we got the cable car back down.

Travelling down in a cable car from Montjuïc

After getting off the cable car, we walked the rest of the way down to the bottom of the hill and back to the apartment for a nap and to freshen up before dinner.

Walking the rest of the way down Montjuïc Walking back to the apartment through Barcelona's streets

We went to a tapas bar called Bub├│ for dinner, where we ordered pretty much the whole menu as we were starving. It also served the most amazing desserts. Here is one, which is chocolate and raspberry flavoured and it tasted even better than it looks:

Amazing dessert

After dinner we were determined to find a bar called Bollocks we had looked up the night before, for the pure entertainment value of the name. After a bit of navigating with my phone, we found it!

Bollocks Rock Bar

It was actually really good! The music wasn’t really loud like I expected, and I was poured two very strong gin and tonics by the heavily tattooed bar lady. Let’s just say getting back to the apartment afterwards was entertaining…

Thursday 5th September

I was so tired from the night before and I think the others were as well, so we set out on an ‘easy’ walk to see La Sagrada Familia, the huge church designed by Gaud├ş. I looked up the route on Google maps beforehand and it seemed to be less than half an hours walk away, so away we went.

Sure enough, it didn’t take long to get there. We spent a bit of time circling the church and I did my thing and took a lot of photos. The building is definitely nothing like anything else I’ve ever seen before; it’s so weird and wonderful. It’s also immensely huge, so very hard to take photos of the whole thing at once!

La Sagrada Famiia frontage La Sagrada familia towers La Sagrada Familia

Afterwards, we decided we were going to see if we could visit some gardens which appeared to be nearby on the map. Heading further afield, we realised that we were now relatively near to Park G├╝ell, which is a park also designed by Gaud├ş. So, we headed towards there instead. I am so glad we did as it was awesome.

Park G├╝ell bridge feature Park G├╝ell balcony feature

We did some more climbing and again got a marvellous view of the city. We could see La Sagrada Familia from here, which is where we had just come from. It looks so dark and out of place from far away.

Looking out on Barcelona from Park G├╝ell

We carried on wandering through the park and looked at all the interesting decoration and buildings.

Cross at the top of Park G├╝ell Park G├╝ell trees feature walkway Park G├╝ell scuptural walkway Park G├╝ell entrance Park G├╝ell pavilion Park G├╝ell building

We walked back to the apartment via a place for some quick grub and got back about 5pm, where we all pretty much crashed for a nap, got up a bit later and sat on the roof terrace, then went to bed again ­čÖé

Friday 6th September

Friday wasn’t that that eventful as we were all completely knackered. I sat on the roof terrace of our apartment in the morning and took the opportunity to paint my nails.

At around 3:30pm, Rob and I headed to a different part of the beach via Barceloneta, and passing through Parc de la Ciutadella on the way, we noticed that the fountain was now working! The minute we stepped off the fountain, some people came to block it all off to prepare it for something, so we were lucky!

The Cascada fountain is operational Interior arches of the Cascada fountain Interior of the Cascada fountain

I sat on the beach for a bit while Rob went swimming, and I dipped my feet in the sea before heading back again.

Barcelona beach

Later that evening we headed towards Barceloneta again for dinner. On the way back, one of my friends wanted to see the fountain working as we’d been boasting about seeing it in action, so we tried walking through the park but then realised that the gates had been locked when we tried to exit, so we had to squeeze through a railing to get out… spending a night in the park wouldn’t have been fun!

This was only the first half of the trip; you can also read about days six to ten

© Michelle Dinan 2017