I love Barcelona, it’s that simple. I’ve been back to the metropolitan city a good few times now and it continues to grow on me more each time I’m there. It’s timeless with a fantastic buzz that reverberates through the city. The Catalonian people are beyond friendly, the pinchos are crazily moreish and there is so much to see and do.
For the last few weeks we had taken some seriously horrendous weather during the later leg of our Portuguese tour; whilst the UK and Ireland were under a couple of feet of snow, we had torrential rain and, at times, hurricane strength winds. Not overly fun when you’re living in a van and can hear every drop of rain and feel every gust of wind, so when we checked the weather for Barcelona and saw sunshine and warm temperatures we quite literally rejoiced and made a b-line for Spain’s east coast.
Whilst I was chomping at the bit to get back to some city exploring after our three day drive over 1,200 kilometres across Portugal and Spain, Eamo wasn’t as enthused about Barcelona as I was. The last time Eamo was in Barcelona was for work and didn’t enjoy it all that much, so I had a few days to win him over… and I did just that!
A huge part of Barcelona’s irrevocable charm is down to the incredible architecture by Antoni Gaudí. With Park Güell and the Sagrada Família being two of the most famous and with blue skies and eighteen degrees to match, off we headed.
The buildings look like they should be in a fairy tale. The walls look as though they are made out of gingerbread and the roofs as though they are made from icing and sweets. Park Güell is completely enchanting and bizarre with all its wavy lines and colourful mosaics which somehow seem to be more natural than the nature it’s self. We spent hours just wandering around this glorious park in the glorious sunshine; best to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon though to avoid the crowds.
Whether you like exploring cathedrals or you don’t is almost irrelevant when it comes to the Sagrada Família. If you’re going to visit any house of worship in Europe, then this one should at least be in your top three.
Casa Milà & Casa Batlló
Gaudi’s two other most famous pieces of work and which are rudely expensive to get in, so we chose to admire them from the street, for free.
The Gothic Quarter is my favourite place in Barcelona, and quickly became Eamo’s too. It’s full of boutique shops, quirky cafes and delectable places to eat all hidden down a maze of shadowy streets. It’s so fun getting lost in the Gothic Quarter only to suddenly come across Barcelona’s Cathedral or be thrust out on to Parliament Square.
As we turned down one street and walked along another, we came across a rather large protest for Catalan Independence.
We visited here when we were hungry. Big mistake, huge. Stalls upon stalls of the most colourful fruit and veg, delicious looking chocolates and sweets, olives, meats, pinchos, wine, smoothies, seafood… if you catch my drift.
Parc de la Ciutadella
We came across Parc de la Ciutadella by pure chance. It wasn’t on either of our list of places to visit but it most definitely should have been. A green oasis on the edge of the megacity, the park has loads of things to see and do from the Zoo to the Havernacle, Geological Museum to the Catalan Parliament building. You can row a boat on the lake and maybe even bump in to a mammoth on your travels.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth to stay in the city; we stayed at Camping Barcelona, a great campsite just outside the city in Mataró. What really gave the edge for this campsite was the free bus in to the city centre each day which dropped us off and picked us up at Plaza Catalunya.
I never get bored with exploring Barcelona and each time I’m there I discover something new whether it’s a new park, somewhere to eat or go for a drink or a new district. As for Eamo, I had a few days to win him over, turns out he was won over in the first couple of hours. We can’t wait till we return to this wonderful city.
Until next time Barcelona…
Distance travelled so far: 5,189 km
Days away: 137