When I lived in France, I found that travelling was so much easier and 100% more accessible. I was fortunate enough to be working on a 12 hour, 4 day a week teaching contract with a remarkably high
wage for the work I was putting in, leaving ample time and money to visit new and exciting cities. I was also lucky enough to have friends living in dozens of cities across Europe, all there for me to explore inexpensively. Now that I’m working and don’t have the freedom that I did back then, travelling has taken a little bit of a backseat, sadly. Every school holiday that presents itself, nowadays, is an opportunity for a trip to somewhere magical. This summer has been no exception. I’ve visited a few amazing cities, and I have another trip to a beautiful city planned for this month.
Barcelona has always been top of my list of favourite cities. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times: one of my closest friends Gary lived there whilst I was in Strasbourg and of course, I took the opportunity to go and stay with him. Whilst I was there, I fell completely and utterly in love with the city. Returning was inevitable and it was lovely to go and visit there with my oldest friend, Laura.
We decided to go the travellers route and book into a hostel and to be honest, I am SO glad that we did as value for money and experience wise the place we chose to stay at, The Barcelona Central Garden, was top notch. Just a stone throw away from the most central street in Barcelona, Passeig de Gracia (and the BEST place to shop!), the area was incredibly safe and had everything we needed within walking distance. The hostel itself was impeccably clean and all in all, we had an incredibly comfortable stay. Best of all: it was INSANELY cheap, at around 30 euros a night each! I’ll definitely be returning here on my next trip to the city. Having already been to the city myself, and knowing that Laura never had, I knew that there were a few places that we just HAD to go and see. We had two full days in the city, which wasn’t anywhere NEAR enough time to visit everything we wanted to see, but we did manage a massive chunk of my list so I’m really impressed by that.
Day 1: Tourist Attractions
We got up early on our first full day in Barcelona and picked up some delicious pastries from a local boulangerie to munch on as we walked to our first stop of the day: the first, and arguably the most impressive.The Sagrada Familia (I have an interesting anecdote tale to tell about this remarkable landmark that I’ll save for another time). The Sagrada Familia is one of those monuments that is utterly distinguishable and for good reason. The building is beautiful. We thought well ahead and got there for 9am, before the larger groups of tourists had arrived on the scene. Exploring the surrounding parks and taking selfies in front of the cathedral made for a really lovely morning.
We decided that we’d keep with the Gaudi theme, Park Guell being our next stop on the list! We grabbed a picnic lunch and, after topping up suncream, munched away in the park itself. We then started queuing for the tickets to see the Gaudi section over the park, only to be told that it had completely sold out and there were no tickets left for the day, or even for the day after. A slightly wasted journey that we didn’t really account for, but we cheered ourselves up with ice-cream and lollies on the walk back down to the metro. At this point, we’d been in the sun for quite a while so, spying a particularly impressive looking Zara, decided that the only thing to do to cool down was to treat outselves to a little shopping trip. Naughty purchase of the year in the form of Tiffany’s necklaces were made by both of us, but otherwise the spontaneous trip didn’t put too much of a strain on the bank balance. We ended the day with cocktails and dinner in a beautiful restaurant in the old town. I had surf and turf paella which was beyond delicious, coupled with a mojito. Next stop was the pier for a little walk and a late night wander across the beach. Bed finally called and sleep overcame us quickly. A very tiring but very fun day.
Day 2: Beach day!
We couldn’t go to Barcelona and not spend the day sunbathing, right? Again, we got up early to head out to the famous Barceloneta beach, knowing full well that it was bound to be quickly crowded in the middle of July. We grabbed a quick breakfast of pastries (sensing a theme here, I love some good old fashioned French pastry!) and set ourselves up with an umbrella and some snacks on the sand. I chose to spend the afternoon catching up on my reading (one of my previous book reviews How To Stop Time by Matt
Haig was my beach book of choice!) whilst Laura snoozed and listened to an incomparable amount of Taylor Swift. A good morning and early afternoon was had by all.
A quick Burger King (We had to!!!) late lunch followed and we went back to the hostel to get ready for the evening ahead. We’d planned to have a tapas night with a couple of the other people staying there (although this quickly turned into EVERYONE in the hostel). We all chipped in with a few euros and helping hands to help set up an amazing evening and Emmanuel, one of the guys working there, showed us how to make Spanish omelette and sangria. The rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and talking to people from all over the world. I was speaking to a pair of girls from New Zealand, and two
guys from Belgium, for example. It was the perfect opportunity to chat to people from different cultures and learn new things. Our plane home the next day meant that we had an early night whilst everyone else went out for drinks, but the evening was very well spent and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
I’ll definitely be booking to go back to Barcelona as soon as I possibly can. My favourite city in the world.