Barcelona is by far our favorite city. It has it all; beaches, culture, architecture, shopping, great food and friendly people. So when the opportunity came up to end our 21 month trip in Barcelona, there was no doubt about going here.
Flying to Barcelona is simple and easy. But is does depend on your place of departure and budget. Since we, off course, want to get the cheapest flights, we ended up with this route leaving from Boliva: La Paz - Cochabamba - Santa Cruz - Madrid - Barcelona. All in all a 30 hour trip but it got us where we wanted to be: Barcelona!
The way back home to The Netherlands was much easier. We found out that flying from Girona is way cheaper than flying from Barcelona itself and it is only a 75 minute busdrive from Estacio d' Autobusos Barcelona Nord (platforms 28 & 29). The ride costs € 16,- and you can check the Sagales website for an up to date timetable.
There are so many great restaurants in Barcelona, it is impossible to make a list. But, we can tell you the places we went to, and liked, during our stay.
Right next to the 5 Rooms, there is a cheap bar/restaurant called Montaditos. They serve all sorts of tapas such as bocadillos, patatas bravas, fuet, serrano and so much more. It's a meeting place for young people and they have a little terrace outside. One little disadvantage: they serve the beer in plastic.
PLACAS IN GRACIA
For some great tapas for fair prices in a lovely area, go to Gracia. Here you'll find several squares (see the Gracia section in 'what to do') with lots and lots of nice tapas bars.
At night, we drove up to Tibidabo to the Mirablau restaurant. This place offers an incredible view overlooking the city (in this case) by night. It isn’t cheap but well worth it. You can also just go up here for a drink with some patatas bravas, like we did. The restaurant turns into a nightclub after 11 pm where you can dance the night away.
Avoid eating at Las Ramblas. The food is overpriced and there are so many more and way better restaurant to be found in the nearby area.
Get lost in the streets of Barri Gothic and get a table or sit at the bar in one of the small restaurants.
We had an incredible stay at the 5 Rooms. They call themselves a boutique urban oasis and we totally agree on that. It is in the heart of downtown Barcelona, only a few minutes away from Plaza Catalunya, Passeo de Grace and the well known Las Ramblas but it is situated in a really peaceful and quiet neighborhood. The staff is amazing. They are friendly, helpful and checking in out of the normal hours isn't a problem, as long as you let them know.
Entering our room it felt like coming home. We had a huge bed, the best shower ever en the breakfast is to die for. We spent quite some time sitting at the breakfast table, talking to other guests and we could not stop eating. This was what we had in mind coming to Barcelona, getting out of the backpacker vibe, getting used to Europe again and just enjoy our time in wonderful Barcelona.
There is so much to do in Barcelona, we could easily spent several weeks here. Unfortunately we only had 3 full days but we enjoyed them to the fullest.
Since we had been on the move for 21 months and have been wearing our clothes sometimes to the last thread down, we were in for some shopping! And shopping is what you can do in Barcelona. There are plenty of really sweet boutiques on all the street corners but unfortunately they were a bit overpriced for us. We just walked to Portal de l’Angel where all the big shops such as H&M, Zara, Pull & Bear and Jack & Jones are. We slowly ended up at the end of Las Ramblas, crossing the Gothic Area and finished our shopping spree at Mare Magnum.
At the end of the day, our wardrobe was renewed, our feet were sore and we were in need of some tapas and wine/beer.
One of the best ways to explore cities is by bike or in this case, by Vespa! We found a really cool company that rents them which was on walking distance from our hotel. So after our huge breakfast we walked up to Via Vespa en got ourselves a nice ride for the day. It was incredibly hot during our time in Barcelona (we left Bolivia during winter time so we had to get used to the heat again) so this was the best way to do some more exploring. Since it was Michiels first time in Barcelona, and Marije visited before and even lived in Barcelona, all Michiel had to do was drive when Marije guided the way.
Adress Via Vespa: C/Princesa 56 (El Born)
CASA MILA & CASA BATTLO
These beautiful buildings are of course Gaudi buildings and really beautiful to see. They are both situated on the Passeig de Gracia and can be entered. You do have to pay an entrance fee for this. We were satisfied by just admiring them from the outside.
PARC DEL LABERINT D’HORTA
This beautiful parc isn’t easy to find and quite far out of town. Therefor it isn’t a popular spot (amongst tourists) which makes that it is pretty quiet here. With the help of our good friend, the app maps.me, we found it quite easy. After paying the weird entrance fee of € 2,23 we entered the parc, just walked around a bit, got lost in the labyrint, took some photos and enjoyed the beauty and silence of the parc.
Adress: Pg. Castanyers, 1
After Parc del Laberint D’Horta it was time to visit the most famous parc of Barcelona: Parc Guell. Driving up here already made us realize that it wasn’t gonna be as peaceful and quiet as the other one. Big groups of people were everywhere, standing in line to get tickets and walking around the parc. The getting a ticket part wasn’t something we knew and to be honest, was a bit of a disappointment. You can walk around the outskirts of the parc for free, but to get to the mosaic benches and bows you have to pay € 8,- (or € 7,- when you prebook online). Since we still haven’t completely shaken of our backpacker skin, we didn’t want to pay this ridiculous entrance fee (we rather spent in on tapas) so we just witnessed it from a distance and were satisfied with that.
With the € 16,- still in our pockets, we drove down to the beautiful neighborhood Gracia, found a table on Placa de la Virreina and just watched people walking by, kids playing and had a great lunch. We drove around a bit more, visiting Placa del Sol, Placa de la Vila de Gracia and Placa del Diamant and really enjoyed the vibe. Gracia is famous for its small boutiques and great placas with restaurants and bars. It used to be an independent village and it still feels like that. Definitely one of our favorite areas in Barcelona.
As said, Barcelona has quite some beaches and the most famous and most crowded beach is Platja de la Barceloneta. This beach is closest to the centre so most tourists go here. On busy days, it can even be difficult to find a spot. There are plenty or restaurants, bars and discotheques here such as Carpe Diem, Opium and Shoko. Since it’s a tourist spot, the prices are high. We just cruised around a bit on our Vespa and saved the actual laying on the beach for another day.
We spent our beach day at the beach of Bogatell. This beach is much more quiet and because it is a place where mostly locals come, the prices are much lower. We did walk back to the centre, passing Barceloneta en we have to say, because it is more crowded, you do have more entertainment here.
As the finisher of the day, we went to see the Sagrada Familia by night. We already passed by during the day but we wanted to see this impressive building lit up by all the lights at night as well.
This enormous church is probably the most famous building in Barcelona. As in today, about 70% of the church has been executed. The building of this impressive church started in 1882 and even though it still isn't finished, some parts already need to be renovated. Hopefully we can see the church in all its glory, completely finished somewhere around 2026. The Sagrada Familia is funded by the people, just as Gaudí wanted it to be.
To visit the inside of the Sagrada, you have to be patient. Long lines of people are waiting to get in. You can already buy your tickets online to get in quicker. They also offer combi tickets for both the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. Proceeds from each ticket go towards the construction.
** Buy your tickets here
We already did some souvenir shopping the last 21 months, but we can't leave Barcelona without some good jamon and typical Spanish sausages. We started at the Mercat de la Boqueria (next to Las Ramblas) and just strolled around a bit. We ate some fresh fruit, had a smoothie and bought several dried sausages to bring home.
For the real deal we went to El Corte Ingles where we bought ourselves a pig's leg. It didn't really fit in our luggage but where there's a will, there's a way...
WE'LL BE BACK!
As said, we only had 3 full days in Barcelona and could spent so much more time in this amazing city. So all we can say is:
Barcelona, we'll be back!