Oh #Spain! How I love thee. I love the people, food, language, culture, weather, everything. If there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that I am definitely Spanish at heart. I think I need to check my genealogy records ;)
For a while, I've been wanting to visit Barcelona and upon researching what I could see there, I saw #Montserrat and knew that this was a must-see! Next, I read about Park Guel and Sagrada Familia. I contemplated visiting the park for a long time but eventually, I decided not to go there. I thought I would spend too much time going there, walking around and maybe I wouldn't have had time to see other places. What is more, I wanted to enjoy the city itself. I remember once, I waited in a long queue to see one place also in Spain and even though the castle was really nice, I felt I wasted too much time and could have seen the city instead, which I did not have time for in the end... So this time, I decided to skip #ParkGuel which did not seem that appealing to me anyway.
I bought an advance ticket for #SagradaFamilia, researched all other places I wanted to see, marked them on maps, checked the distance from the hotel, station, etc. and off I went!
I set an alarm for 2am on Saturday so I could catch a night bus to the station where I would take a night tube to another station where I would in turn wait for the coach to the airport. I have to admit though that travelling at night by myself is not the most pleasant of experiences. Having arrived at the destination station, I managed to catch an earlier coach to the airport which gave me 15-20 min extra to grab something to eat and have a hot drink, otherwise I wouldn't have had the time as everything was planned to the minute :)
2 hours on the plane which I spent sleeping and I'm in Barcelona! Yipee!
From there, the bus A2 from terminal 2 to Placa d'Espana which takes only 20 min and is very easy to find. Once at Placa #dEspana, you go downstairs to the station to buy the ticket to Montserrat. There is customer service staff to help with buying tickets. You need to decide beforehand whether you want to buy the ticket for #Aeri de Montserrat - the cable car or for #Monistrol de Montserrat - the rack railway train from the foot of the mountain to the top, or another ticket which included both of those rides called #Tot de Montserrat. I went for the train. At home, when I was checking different kinds of tickets, I couldn't decide which one to buy. I wanted to take the cable car but I thought 'What if I am too scared to go in??' hehe. What then? Also, a few days before the trip I read that there might be long queues for the cable car as it can only take up to 15 people at a time. I read reviews that some visitors waited 1 or 2h! I did not want to waste any time so I bought the train ticket. This was a very good choice. The ride took about 10-15min. There were some lovely views on the way up and the journey was smooth. The views from the top of the mountain were even more breathtaking. I just couldn't take it all in. The weather was beautiful and although chilly as it was November, maybe 8 degrees C, the sun balanced it out. After taking pictures, I made my way to the monastery. On the way back, I had about 15 min to the train back so I thought I would go down a bit as the path looked quite interesting. The path was taking me down quickly but I had realised the way up would not be a walk in the park. As I tried to climb my way back up, I found it the hardest climb ever. It was very steep and I had to rush to take the train. To be honest, all it took maybe 10 min but I was exhausted and faint at one point - not sure if it was the height or the effort...Anyway, I came right on time and took the train back to Barcelona. On the way to my hotel, I found an internet cafe where I could print my boarding pass for the following day and then went to check-in. Surprisingly, the whole trip to the mountain took me less than expected leaving me more time to explore the city.
The restaurant that was recommended to me by the receptionist and also some people on the internet, did not live up to the expectations - service was poor, the food could have been better and it wasn't cheap at all, the place had no character. I left as soon as I could. Some people have really different standards - I did not see anything in this restaurant that could earn them a thumbs up...
If you've been to #Barcelona, have you also noticed that you can never cross the roads straight on? As soon as you see the crossroads, you have to turn and go down the road a bit to cross it, which kind of makes you sometimes confused especially when the road you are crossing splits into 3 other roads (!) leaving you puzzled as to which direction you were supposed to go :)
The one thing I really don't like when travelling is to constantly having to check my phone for the directions. It's constant open, remember a bit, close, open, remember a bit, close. And if you don't check for longer you will find yourself going the opposite direction, hehe. I seriously do not know what I would do without the Internet. But the worst thing are the narrow streets full of shops...Oh my. The GPS never works there and you never know where you're going as they all look the same. It is a little tiring to me to be honest - not a fan of narrow streets at all, and if there are crowds of people whom you cannot overtake - I'm off! Before I escaped the crowds and the cold, I bought myself some good portions of famous #churros con chocolate, crema and sugar from a really good churreria. Yum! Have been waiting for those for months, haha. In the evening I went to see the Magical Fountain of #Mountjuic, not far from the hotel. I read that the show was due to start at around 9pm but as I was there at about 8:40 the show would have already started leaving me maybe 15 min to enjoy. Luckily, I saw it and it was the best light and water show I have seen. At times, I was not sure if I was looking at a fountain bathed in orange and red colours or an exploding volcano :) It was beautiful.
The following day, I got up early to see the cathedral as the night before, there were far too many people to see anything and obviously it was dark! By the way, I did not expect such crowds! The evening in the centre was massively crowded. Early morning on Sunday is the best for sightseeing.
#ViaLaietana took me to the beach. Again, lucky me, the weather was beautiful. As I was making my way to Sagrada Familia, I passed briefly (lack of time to stroll unfortunately) through a scenic Park de la Ciutadela and later Arc de Triomf. I was at Sagrada Familia right on time, 11:15 am sharp where I would find the advance ticket line and then security check which all went quickly. Soon I found myself in the midst of one of the most magnificent if not the most magnificent place I have ever seen. The interior design is spectacular. It is a fine masterpiece of an architectural design. My eyes were fixated on huge columns, heavily decorated ceiling and captivating stained glass windows. I walked around gazing with admiration at all that surrounded me, taking in all the details. Sagrada Familia is definitely worth visiting.
After, briefly seeing the exteriors of two other famous landmarks: Casa Mila and Casa Batlo, I headed towards Placa #Catalunya where I would take the bus to the airport. As I still had a few hours left and was hungry after all the walking, I went to the restaurant called #Ciutat #Condal which I found on the internet at home. This time the choice couldn't have been better. The food was delicious, I could have had more if I had had space in my stomach. The service was efficient, the whole place was buzzing and croquetas, el pulpo and Sangria worth trying.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that the whole trip went as smoothly as it could. There was no time-wasting (maybe apart from waiting for the train to Montserrat at Placa d'Espana as there's only 1 train per hour and I just missed one - but not a big deal), no major hiccups, just 30 min delay on the flight back - still not an issue for me. Apart from rather disappointing condition of the room in the hotel and bizzare crossroads, haha, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Barcelona. (Oh, the airport might be a tiny bit confusing with the A and B signs and terminal 1 and 2).
It's been one week since my speedy trip and and it was a speedy one indeed, Saturday morning in, Sunday evening out. I can proudly admit that I have become a master of quick escapades abroad and seeing all that's worth visiting in 24 hours or less. If you want to join me, be my guest but I do have to warn you - there's no break for pee so you better not drink much water; no time to eat (only if you're exhausted) and most importantly - I am walking all day long at a pretty brisk pace, so no complaining of being tired please. Maybe it sounds cruel but if you're on a budget and pressed for time, you have to make sacrifices. When I travel I make use of every minute so I can see as much as possible because I will probably not come to the same place twice, unless I have seen the whole world! The only person that can keep up with me is my Mum and I applaud her for that!
As far as planning goes, I prepare as much as possible in advance so I do not waste time once I'm in my destination country. I think it's better to pay a little bit more for an advance ticket than wait 1h or 2 in a queue! Unfortunately, it happened to me a few times that I did not book a ticket beforehand due to the fact that it had to be purchased at certain places in a destination country or because I simply it was a spur of the moment to visit a place during the trip. I remember that it resulted in me paying double the amount of money for the ticket and another time, wasting a couple of hours in a long queue. Never again...
I booked the hotel and flights to Barcelona about a month before the actual trip. I needed to escape London for a while not only because I have been suffering a creative burnout and a thought of having to deal with certain issues involving slow computers, fixing never ending errors, editing yet another video and watching yet another tutorial on how to create your own brand etc., filled me with disgust, but also I wanted to give myself a birthday present - I really do not like birthdays; the whole month before, I feel anxious and on edge so thought maybe that would be some sort of consolation to me...And it was!
To a certain degree at least...;)
Can't wait till the next one!
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