Travelling the world for a year was fantastic for me, but I imagine for my mum it felt like abandonment…probably worse than when I moved to York for uni. At least then I was only 2 hours up the road. So being the heavenly daughter I am I suggest a girls trip to Barcelona.
An early morning flight saw us leave the miserable cold of Manchester and touch down in sunny Barcelona. Thinking my mum wouldn’t be as brave as me, I didn’t bother looking into trains to the centre so we caught a taxi instead. Bad move, turns out Saint George’s day is pretty well celebrated in Barcelona so most of the streets surrounding our hotel were closed. Mum was ok she had a suitcase on wheels, I had a bloody holdall. But we soon found our hotel, the Oriente Atriam, a beautiful converted nunnery right in the heart of Las Ramblas.
Immediately after checking in we headed out to explore, walking up Las Ramblas wasn’t all that easy, thanks to the many stalls that had been put out for Saint Georges day, everyone seemed to be making and selling roses. All the red and white combined with the yellow of the Catalonian flags added to the beauty of the buildings surrounding us. Not too dissimilar to Paris, each building is uniquely built with ornate windows, some even have sculptures and artwork on the sides.
We stumbled upon a local market selling fruit, veg, eggs, fish, meat and tapas, But the best find was the fresh fruit juice, 1 sip of that banana and coconut smoothie had my head straight back in Asia, safe to say we spent a euro or two there each day on those bad boys! I was desperate to see the Casa Battlo, one of Gaudi’s buildings, and it tuns out so was the rest of Barcelona. Tourists filled the pavement on both sides of the road, it was like playing dodge the selfie stick just to get a good look…I soon learnt that this would be one of the busiest cities in the world, possibly worse than Shanghai! I wasn’t left disappointed though and it’s definitely better in real life than the photos!
Our first evening was spent in Placa Reial with a paella and an aperol spritz, at the time we didn’t know that this would become routine for every evening of our stay. With plenty of entertainment and good food we were content to sit in the square each night, watching acrobats, listening to music and enjoying the vocal talents of a young girl who came to liven the crowd each evening.
Our first full day saw an early rise and a trip to Segrada Familia. I’ll hold my hands up here and say I made a huge mistake, I booked us on a guided tour….it was as dull as shit! Even mum hated it, so we snuck off and took ourselves around. Large and unfinished this basilica was designed by Gaudi and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The detail of the sculptures on the outside and the stain glass on the inside is stunning, you can truly appreciate the work that has gone into it. Though mum said that she did expect it to be taller. One thing I did learn from the guide is that they think it will be finished by 2026, however they do need to find 50 million dollars to buy out the flats over the road for the space to build on….good luck with that guys!
There’s so much to see and do, so once we’d finished our tour we took ourselves off to the Gothic Quarter and got lost in the streets. Stumbling across many boutique shops, hidden alley ways and little bits of art here and there. We both loved walking around finding different things to see..each day we were there we covered just shy of ten miles!
Asia made me a total beach addict, so on our second day I dragged mum to the beach to soak up some sun. Here I made mistake number 2, we’ll get to what that was in just a minute. We walked along the harbour, looking out across the ocean to the mountains in the distance…or I was, mum was looking at the boats, pretending she was in The Real Housewives! For a city beach I was surprised by how clean the beach was, the water was clear, but a little too cold for swimming. So we chilled out and people watched, our favourite past time, especially when Ronaldo 2.0 was posing for pictures and trying, but failing, to chat up the girls!
Walking back to the hotel, we decided to walk back along the harbour and all along the front, it was a nice day for a stroll. Arriving at the Columbus monument I realised my earlier mistake. To get to the beach we’d taken the tube, 2 tubes to be precise and we’d gone up, to come back down. What a waste of bloody time, all we had to do was walk down Las Ramblas for about 5 minutes, and we’d have been at the monument, whoops! Good job the tube only costs 2 euros, hey?!
After a shower and a little make up we made our way to Palacio del Flamenco. Located in the midst of all the designer shops, including Sephora, sits this little Flamenco theatre. Being a dance and theatre lover I was keen to experience something new. I’ll be honest, it just wasn’t for me. I loved the music and the signing, that I could listen to all night, and the dancers are so skilled and the costumes are beautiful. But for me the stamping is just too loud, it’s like being back at tap dance classes.
On our final day we took a trip to Monstserrat Monestary and Basilica, and again this tit booked a tour! Word of advice, if you go make your own way there by train, it’s well easy! Plus you get great views and don’t have to sit on a bus that’s going up a windy mountain. Anyway, we made it, that’s the main thing and it was amazing! This basilica sits atop a huge mountain, with views of the Alps and mountain. We wandered around the grounds, lit a candle for nana and bought delicious goats cheeses from a local market. Unfortunately, time didn’t allow for us to see the Black Madonna or the boys choir…which again, is why I would recommend the train so you can do things at your own pace.
We also didn't take the "train" to the highest part of the mountain. Now, mum will tell you this because I was scared, truth of the matter it is, it was just to hazy to see that far. (It's actually her fault that I have a tiny fear of heights).
Upon our return we took one last trip around the Gothic Quarter to Barcelona Cathedral, my favourite building of the trip. Truly fitting into the gothic title the high spears and gargoyles give this building an empowering effect in the centre of the bustling streets.
We enjoyed our final aperol and paella back in Placia Real, with some music from one man and his guitar, before sneaking in another cheeky fruit juice. A perfect end to a great girls vacay….only next time i’ll take some ear plugs to drown out someones snoring, sorry mum!
Love Carrie xxx