Our third stop in this Euro trip was Barcelona, Spain. We took a train from Madrid Puerta De Atocha station at around 10 am and arrived in Barcelona Sants station around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It took just under 3 hours.
We took a cab from the station and our hostel was just 10 minutes away. The hostel we stayed at is called “Hostal Centric”, we got a private room with three beds. It is a pretty good hostel, walking distance from subway station and quite a few plazas (Plaza Catulanya, La Ramblas )
After resting up a bit we headed out to explore the city. We walked to La Ramblas (it is advised to be careful of pickpockets in this area, but luckily we had no issues). It is a great strip with shops, street vendors, restaurants on all sides. Musicians playing their music in every corner, souvenir store owners trying to upsell their products to tourists, patios filled with locals and tourists alike; really great diversity to see here.
We tried to buy some souvenirs at a store and I would recommend to always bargain, as the listed prices are way over priced and a little bit of bargaining can get you several souvenirs for much cheaper.
The sun had set and all the walking made us build an appetite, so we went to a nearby pizza restaurant to feast.
After feasting, we were all pretty tired from the train ride and all the walking, so we called it a day and headed back to our hostel.
We did the Barcelona 2 day hop-on-hop off city tour, so it was easy for us to get to the famous attractions, similar to Madrid (You can check out Madrid post here)
This city is Gaudi’s city; Antoni Gaudi; who was a Spanish architect. His designs are unconventional of the symmetric designs that were common back in the day; he paved the way for out of the box designs inspired by nature, animals and his surroundings. His work is hard to miss when in Barcelona, as there are so many landmarks and buildings either inspired by him or designed by the man himself.
One of those buildings by Gaudi is La Pedrera; it used to be home to a wealthy couple, but now it is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It costs about 16.50 euros, for entry ticket, if you are able to get the student one, which is what we got. The building has a very wavy design, not like a symmetric one, that we are used to seeing. Main attraction, once inside, is its rooftop. Once on top, it looks like everything is made out of clay, it has a very sandy color, with chimneys, stairs and views of the city.
Next we went for lunch to Gambito BCN, it is right by La Pedrera. Had some delicious seafood paella, beef steak and took lemon meringue pie to go.
Our next stop was Sagrada Familia; this is one of the must see attractions in Barcelona. It is definitely one of the great works of Gaudi. It cost about 17.50 euros for a student entry ticket. We booked online and when you are booking, you can also book a visit to one of the churches towers; there are a few towers that you can go on top of and enjoy the view. The only 2 that were open when we were there was nativity tower and passion tower. We went up the passion tower, on the ticket you purchase it provides a time slot where you can go up. Since there isn’t much room on top of the tower, people can go up in the time slot they are assigned, to prevent overcrowding. There is an elevator that takes you up the passion tower, but to come back down; the only option is taking the stairs. We got up and saw some awesome views of the city. The pathway back down has a very narrow stairway.
By now we were pretty tired so we headed back, had a snack at a café by our hostel and called it a day.
We had breakfast and went to our hop-on-hop off stop to catch the bus; today we were headed towards another must see attraction Parc Guell, another amazing architecture marvel by Gaudi. We had also bought the tickets to the park prior to coming here, so we didn’t have to wait in the line. Once we arrived, for the first bit we sat and listened to some locals play some good music.
Afterwards, we went up top an area where you can view rest of the park and relax. There are gingerbread house like structures and great mesh designs everywhere. There is also a lizard fountain, apparently Gaudi used animals and nature as his inspiration for architecture design and it is highly noticeable in this creations.
We ate at a restaurant in the park, it was a crazy hot day and we needed some nutrition. Food here was average, but after walking in the heat, it tasted like heaven.
Later in the evening, we headed to Magic Fountain of Montjuic ; usually the magic fountain show starts from 9 or 9:30 pm and has a show every 15 minutes, runs until 10:30 pm. Be sure to check the timing when you go, as it varies for different times of the year. The magic fountain was spectacular; one of its showing played an entire playlist of Disney songs, which brought me back in time. It has lighting effects, water acrobatics and great music. You can sit on the steps of plaza or just watch up close and get splashed by the fountain; which is what we did. It is a super crowded place, so come a bit early if you want a good spot.
Afterwards, we went to eat some Tapas in a nearby restaurant.
Bright and early we went for some breakfast at a nearby café called Café 40 Paises.
And then we headed to the beach for the rest of the day. It was our final day in Barcelona (bittersweet feeling) and we wanted to just relax and unwind on the beach. There were people coming and asking to give us back massages (at a cost of course), a guy walking around selling Persian rugs and water bottles ( which I found super random), but hey! whatever goes in Barcelona. We came and rented one umbrella, so we don’t get burned by the sun, and just spent the day by the water.
In the evening, we went for some more paella, the seafood paella here was really good. I can’t remember the name of the place but there is a whole lineup of restaurants by the beach.
After eating we walked along the shores of the beach one last time and bought souvenirs from the street vendors. Just like that, our 4 days in Barcelona came to an end. Such an amazing experience and it had really started to feel like home. This was also our last day in Spain, and even though we had only been here a week, we got so used to the culture and the environment, that it was a sad feeling to leave. I will definitely come back here, it was a great experience discovering the Spanish culture, their variety of food and so much great architecture.
Highlights of all the places to visit in Barcelona
- La Rambas
- Plaza Catulanya
- La Pedrera
- Sagrada Familia (nativity tower or passion tower)
- Parc Guell
- Magic Fountain of Montjuic
- Barcelona Beach
- Have seafood Paella