It took me
a long time to decide which city or place to write about in my first post. It’s
like all of this little travelcreatures in my head were jumping and yelling
“Pick me!!! Pick me!!!!”. But in the end I decided to tell you guys first about
a place where I spent quite a time, so I can tell you a lot about it, and
meanwhile it is very accessible from all over Europe.
to you, the city where my dreams were made: Barcelona!
View on Barcelona from Park Güell
For me, this was the place where I finally became an adult, where I learned to live on my own and set my goals in life. For the first time, my university classes really interested me, I really got involved and evolving in dance classes, promised myself to move to a sunny country later, and last but not least... I kinda met my boyfriend here. But only kinda, since we only started dating way later... But that's another story, so back to the point!!
To give you
a short summary, Barcelona really has it all. Culture, shopping streets (loads
of them!), beaches, a screaming nightlife, delicious food (tapas!), and last
but not least a good climate. About that last one, I remember the first time I
went swimming in the season was beginning April, and the last time was mid
Octobre, so the beach season is quite extended there.
with, it is very easy accessible from about everywhere. Since winter 2010
Ryanair started flying directly to the main airport in Barcelona, El Prat. This
means that you’re just a 25 minute train ride away from all the fun, which will
cost you less than a euro if you buy a 10-pass (which you will, since you will
definitely need to use the metro during your stay due to the size of Barcelona
that is slightly bigger than most cities we are living in!). Depending on when
you buy your ticket, your flight could cost from 10 ‘till over 200 euro… The
200 euro are usually used as pricing the day before, but since I think most of
you order your tickets before, that wouldn’t be the case. Just for information,
my tickets in October 2011 were 45 euro, tickets for New Year 2010-2011 were 95
euro, and tickets for this summer season can be bought for around 75 euro. As
you see, the price rises when there is a lot of demand, but if you go outside
of the official vacations, the price is really low. Once, I paid 30 euro for a
ticket. (All the mentioned prices are always A/R and taxes and administration
About the fact I mentioned before, that you can definetely use a 10 rides metropass, I will say one more thing... be prepared to walk. A lot. Barcelona is a very big city, and I must say that from my own experience, my legs were hurting every single day for the first 2 weeks I spent there. Almost everything has a metro or bus stop in the nieghbourhood, but still you will be surprised if you look how much you have walked on one day.
and hostels are generally not SUPERcheap, but if you look for offers on
Booking.com or Couchsurfers who can host you (Both of this things I will
explain more about later, because they are very important if you want to save
money while travelling!) you can get a good deal for sure. Anyway, for a ‘just
about decent enough’ double room with your own bathroom, even in high season
you can find something not too far from the center for about 40-50 euro. Of
course, if you want nice decorations and good situation in the center, the
prices go higher and higher. Anyway, the situation of the hotel is actually not
that much of a big deal, if it is inside the city anyway, because Barcelona has
a magnificent metro system, and for the partyanimals amongst us, there are
nightbusses driving around the city… ALL NIGHT LONG. Also, on Fridays the metro
is open until 2AM, and on Saturdays it doesn’t stop at all.
a good example of the fact that I wanted to mention first, Barcelona is a city
that never sleeps. Not only is there a party or an event every night, Spanish
people have the tradition of not making any difference on which day of the week
it is to go out to party or at least for some drinks. Therefore, any couple of
days that you will spend in this city, you sure will find a place to party at night,
or to listen to live music, or in the ‘worst’ case, go for some beers or cocktails.
One very important thing you should remember: you are NOT in Spain here!! Barcelona lies in the heart of Catalonia, for strangers it might seem just a region, but since the Catalans are fighting for their independence, you might not get a good reaction on calling them Spaniard. If you hear people talk some weird language, between Spanish and French, that is probably Catalan. Oh yeah, before I forget to mention, you can only support one single football cub here, and that would be FC Barcelona (or Barça, how its called by the locals). Daring to cheer "Goal!" when Real Madrid scores is like signing your death contract. I am not kidding on that one!!
Palau de la Musica Catalana
the culture, as you all probably know, Barcelona is the city of Gaudi. A lot of
the street decoration in the center are decorated by him, and you can also find
a few amazing buildings in the city, like Casa Battlo, the Sagrada Familia or visit Park Güell, one
of his absolute masterpieces. Except Gaudi, there are also lots of other cultural things to see in Barcelona, for example the Palau de la Musica Catalana, designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner, an other famous Catalan architect. One of the more traditional big tourist attractions is the Fountain show, that is visited by about 2,5 million people every year. From Octobre 'till April there are shows on Friday and Saturday, and between April and September, from Thursday 'till Sunday. Every weekend there are about 4-5 shows, between 7PM and 9PM.
Also the local fruit and fish market, La Boqueria is one of the things you must not forget to visit. Here you will find lots of exotic and less exotic fruits, juices, but also typical Spanish ham (jamon) and cheese, and other traditional food. Here you can also find some small open bars where you can taste delicious Spanish food, all kinds of tapas, empanadas, ... And all in the back of the market, there is a very nice organic bar, that serves salads and healthy meals, which make you lick your fingers off!
food part, you will surely not lose weight here. Actually, in my first month
here I gained at least 2 kilo’s. To start with, all of the food is more
sweetened and salty here, but I think the amounts of delicious tapas I ate in
that month were one of the reasons too… Anyway, if you come for a city trip,
you are OBLIGED to go to eat tapas at least once! Tapas are small portions of
whatever delicious dishes you can imagine, and are a good way of tasting a lot
of different things in one dinner. The most typical for Catalonia are "patatas bravas" (pieces of potatoe with a special spicy sauce), "tortilla" (Spanish omelette with potatoes), and about everything you can imagine with seafood like calamares, mussels and gambas. Also the famous paella makes a great dinner. For the drinks, you can choose between a fresh "clara"(which is half beer half lemon), sangria or of course cava!! For the last one, there is one place you cannot miss in Barcelona: La Xampañeria! A bar where you can get bottles of cava to drink at place or to take away for almost the same money as a bottle of Coke. Nevertheless, this is one of the best cava's I ever tasted in my life... More about it in the next post! And unlike your expectations, Barcelona is a great place to eat sushi too!
Since it’s close to the sea, the fish is daily fresh, and due to the quite
large Asian population in Barcelona, there are a lot of good ‘all you can eat’
sushi places where you can eat your tummy fuller than full for about 10 to 15
Euro, with quite authentic sushi. But more about the food later!
And my last
point to convince you to visit Barcelona, and definitely one of the most
important ones (for me at least), is the beach. Barcelona has a lot of beaches,
starting for the more touristic and mostly known Barceloneta, ‘till the more
‘locals’ beaches of Nova Icaria, Mar Bella, … The sea is generally ‘swimmable’
between mid-April till end of September, but depending on the weather, this may
vary. The only advice I can give you at the beach is to enjoy the sun and sea,
but to NOT leave your stuff unattended. In Barcelona you have lots of Indians
and Paki’s wandering around on the beach selling fresh drinks and beer, who
will not hesitate to grab some stuff if it’s left unattended.
think Barcelona is one of the MUST SEE cities in Europe, so it is really worth
a trip, for all of the mentioned reasons (and many more!!). In a next post I
will share some must-see and must-do things in Barcelona, and some insider
local tips for nice food and parties.