My Barcelona anecdote

When you think Barcelona, you immediately think about their high-flying and successful football club. I myself used to associate the Spanish city with their much loved football club, however I've always wondered that there must be something beyond this. I discovered that on my first (and hopefully not my last) trip to this Catalan city sometime last June for a 3 day break. This blog post is a 6 months belated anecdote of my post exams trip to Barcelona with a bunch of my friends in summer.

Taking advantage of the cheap air fares on offer at Ryanair, we spent about £28 just for the return tickets, back and forth from London Stanstead. In spite of the very early morning flight, for less than £30, who can complain? We arrived at Girona airport just outside of Barcelona at about 10:30 and from there we took a 1 hour 30 mins coach ride into the City. For travellers who are strict on the money, in my opinion, the coach offers the cheapest and somewhat comfortable option into Barcelona. You may consider the train, however, if I'm not mistaken that also means stopping and changing trains in Girona, which will obviously take a longer time and a bit more money to spend. 

After over an hour ride, we reached the Barcelona Nord Bus Station and stepping outside we immediately saw one of Barcelona's famous monument, the Arc de Triomf and as always, we immediately took out our cameras and snapped a few shots. Nearby, was a metro station in which we used to get to Passeig de Gracia, where we were staying at. Metro fares are cheap too. For 10 tickets (in Zone 1) cost €9.45 -  pretty good deal!

Arc de Triomf
                                           
We reached our hostel, AWA Barcelona City Centre Hostal. We were greeted by one of the staffs, Pedro, who was very friendly and helpful throughout our stay. Location, value and security I have to say are excellent especially if you are on a tight budget (cost us less than £15 per night).

Anyway, on the first day, we decided to familiarise with the city, get to know which road leads to where, the nearest metro station and all those things. However, as we were walking along the streets, we ended up bumping into La Monumental a large brick colored building along Gran Via, of which we initially thought was a mosque. Turns out it used to be a bullring, in fact was the last bullring to operate in Barcelona. As we walked further down, we noticed a tall minaret-like feature poking out to the sky and a friend of mine (who had visited Barcelona earlier in the year) highlighted that it is in fact a section of La Sagrada Família which is an old Catholic Church and a very familiar attraction for Barcelona. An interesting note about this church is that it began construction in the 1880's however, the structure and architectural design are so complicated that the building is still in construction at present day!

La Monumental


La Sagrada Família
 After taking hundreds of photos of the building and ourselves, we marched on towards Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona's main avenue and major shopping area known for its exquisite architectures and expensive districts in the Catalan city. Not long during our walks that we came across Casa Batllo, one of the famous houses designed by Barcelona's famous architects Antoni Gaudi. The Casa Batllo really stood out among the modern structures surrounding it, as it has a skeletal-like exterior and very colorful walls painted on it. Tours inside of the house were available, but we opted to just take photos of the building. From then on, we opted out for long walks along the Passeig de Gràcia and chilled a the Starbucks cafe.



Casa Batllo



Passeig de Gràcia



Day 2 of our Barcelona trip we started for a must visit shrine for football aficionados: Camp Nou stadium, the home of world football giants FC Barcelona. The stadium took quite a while to reach, in spite it having excellent links via the metro. Basically both the green (L3) and blue (L5) metro lines have a number of stops situated close to the stadium: Maria Cristina or Palau Reial [(L3 green); Badal or Collblanc (L5 blue)]. Outside of the Badal metro station, we walked for a bit until we reached the stadium. It was huge, old and modern at the same time. We opted for the stadium tour which included tours to the mega store, stadium's museum, grandstand, players' tunnel and of course the benches, where the team's famous managers and players sat during the game. I was interested to find that there is a small chapel situated just along the player's tunnel. The whole tour was about 2 hours time and cost us about 23€ (cheaper if you are a student).

Inside Camp Nou
                                   



From the Camp Nou Museum






After the Nou Camp visit, we started off for Barcelona's port and seaside just along Barceloneta and Port Vell. We walked along the quay and was taken by the beauty of the beach and seaside. It makes you wonder why Brunei, rich with beaches and sun and known for our water village, doesn't take up such make over and upgrade the way Barcelona does it? Anyhow, the fervour of the port was very peaceful, put you in those 'life in perspective' kinda of moments. LOL. But yeah, we spent our time through the afternoon until dusk and as the Euro tournament was happening, we decided to kill time watching a bit of football.


At the quay




Day 3 in Barcelona was our final day. By this time we opted for the Plaça de Catalunya, a large square  considered as a meeting point between the old and new city of Barcelona. There were beautiful fountains in the square (of which we took a bunch of photos at ) and the division between the old and new city was apparent. On one side you can see old and gothic buildings while on the other side, large modern malls can be seen. We walked further down around the malls for a quick 'retail therapy' while continuing our excursion towards La Rambla, a historic walking street of which Barcelona is also known for. Along the street, various stalls and cafes are situated and hundreds of people walking about.  We also went to La Boqueria a famous fruit market known for their rich selection of fresh fruits and goods. We were surprised to find our that as we approached the end point of the street, we reached Port Vell, the port that we visited the day before.



Plaça de Catalunya

                                    

                                              

                                              

                                              


La Boqueria


La Rambla

We left Barcelona at dawn for an early morning flight back to Bristol. All in all Barcelona is an exciting and beautiful city. The weather is just lovely - not too cold, but not too hot either. Of course, three days in Barca is never enough. I learnt later that there were more places that should have been visited, but  does that mean I should save those for next time? Maybe one day. But I truly enjoyed the trip especially having good company around. Its definitely worth the time and money!

With our gracious Host, Gustavo
                               



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