96 Hours in Barcelona
Barcelona, the grandest of Mediterranean cities. To those viewing it from above, like the millions of tourists that descend upon the Catalan City each year as they fly above, it seems a terracotta chessboard intertwined with monuments and lavish squares that proudly exhibit the region’s history. Kind of sounds like we swallowed a travel guide doesn’t it? But go to Barcelona, it’s awesome, enit.
Today it’s more popular than ever. It seems we’re never 6ft away from someone that’s been to Barthelona and Instagrammed their tapas, #travel #mondays #livelaughlove.
Why is it so popular? With the addition of cheaper flights (check you’re not flying to Girona) and its setting as a historic city with a beach; what more could you really ask for? They also serve alcohol in McDonalds. Sold. For a bustling busy metropolis it seems so laid back and relaxed you could be anywhere but the second biggest city in Iberia. You don’t feel in a rush to do anything despite most only going to the city for a few days. To get as much stuff done as possible you can get a hop on hop off bus; there’s three main routes that span across the city covering every landmark and sight you could ever wish to see. Tip:
Get up early, get a day pass and you could easily do all three routes and make sure to stop off to get the cable car to Castell de Montjuic.
We’re not going to sit here and list everything you must do when you’re in Barcelona. No. What would be the point in that? It’s your holiday. Best thing for you to do is do it all yourself. Get lost in the streets and stumble upon something beautiful. Try some food you’ve never heard of and regret not getting the piri-piri chicken (admit it, you’d get that anyway). It’s your holiday. Explore it like you’re the first.
Talking about food, the best thing we munched down was tapas and chips. We’re not 100% sure how British people can put their own spin on a staple of Spanish (Catalan) culture but I think we came pretty close. Chips in Spain are almost an off menu item, you have to quietly whisper it to the waiter so that no-one else can hear you. They then go into the kitchen making sure they’re not followed to tell the chef. It soon dawns on him that he’s serving English people. Que the eye roll and the shuffle from the freezer.
We stayed in the Eixample part of the city. Almost exactly in the middle of Barcelona, it allowed us to navigate with ease and not be too far away from most of the major sites. It was close to a Metro stop that, although initially confusing, could get you to any part of the city in a short amount of time. Oh and when we mean confusing we mean really confusing! We just pushed buttons on the automated ticket machine and hoped for the best. To this day we’re certain we hopped on the train with an invalid ticket. Don’t do that.
We’re sure that if you’ve ever mentioned going to Barcelona the world goes quiet and you hear hushed whispers as though the end is nigh; they echo the word “pickpockets”. There are pickpockets, but there are pickpockets in every city and town in the world. Barcelona isn’t alone in that fact. Don’t let it ruin your holiday although as soon as you walk out of the airport the city will descend upon your loose change. Just be wary (like you would anywhere). We’ve read some blogs that recommend you don’t dress for the summer and try to dress like a local (try not to be too stereotypical). But we don’t like the idea of cowering on our holiday, being made to feel like we need to look over our shoulder every minute and going to the beach in our finest clothes so we don’t look “too touristy”. Go on holiday. Wear what you want. We’ve been to Barcelona and the locals dress more like tourists than the tourists. If we can offer any advice however: Don’t
carry your wallet in your back pocket and don’t
put valuables clear to see on a table in a restaurant. Be somewhat street smart and don’t be the easy target. Tip
: if you’re carrying a bag, carry it on your front in crowded places (more so that you don’t swing round and knock out an unsuspecting child). If you have a rucksack you can always padlock it shut with one of those mini padlocks you always get in your Christmas crackers; it works. Just remember that there are more blogs out there about being pickpocketed because not being robbed wouldn’t be as worthwhile to write about and less likely to be read. Don’t let a few people’s bad experiences ruin your holiday. It’s yours and it’ll be unique so long as you’re sensible.
Barcelona is a city that can date its history back well before that of the Romans, a place that has hosted the world, a city that will stand for thousands of years to come. A city we will go back to and a city that can’t be broken because of the acts of a few.