Roughly six weeks after arriving in Spain it was time for my first big, long weekend trip! I was extremely excited all Thursday at school and was counting down the seconds in my private classes that afternoon until I was free! My plane was delayed leaving Oviedo so I was a little later arriving in Barcelona than I expected and didn’t make it to my hostel until about 1am. The Metro had stopped running at midnight so after getting off the airport train shanks’ pony became my mode of transportation. A half hour walk in the rain later, I was glad I had packed lightly and well and truly ready for bed.
The next morning I had two motivations to be up early. Primarily because I was only in Barcelona for three days and had to make the most of each day, secondly because the free breakfast was only served till 10am! So, fed and watered, I was on the road by 9.30am. I started at La Rambla, probably the most famous street in all of Spain. I am at a complete loss to explain why, but there it is. I still can’t explain why a street should be a constantly busy tourist attraction just because it is a constantly busy tourist attraction, seems rather circular to me, but that appears to be the main reason. There are tourists wandering around, being hustled by people trying to sell them junk, food stands, Starbucks, Burger King and McDonald’s, and more tourists.
I located the Mercat La Boquería, which is what I was searching for, and made plans to come back at lunchtime. The market ended up being one of my favourite things about the city.
After my disappointment about La Rambla, I jumped on the Metro and headed to the most famous landmark in the whole city: Antoní Gaudí’s Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. I remain undecided about whether I liked it or not.
The Nativity Façade
It certainly is the most unique church I have ever seen but I can’t quite work out if I liked it or not. I spent a good while snapping photos of the outside but I still felt considerably underwhelmed by it. That combined with the long queue and expensive ticket price to get in made me decide against checking out the inside. (I slightly regret this now, as I hear it is much more stunning inside, but at least I know one thing I’ll have to do when I go back to Barcelona one day!) One thing that is really striking about La Sagrada Familia is its size. It is really huge, and with all the cranes and scaffolding it looks even larger. No wonder it still isn’t finished, even though they have downsized it from Gaudí’s original designs!
The Passion Façade
The entire southern façade of the church is still covered with scaffolding but will apparently be the most stunning of them all and show Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
(One interesting thing that really irked me while I was in Barcelona was the number of postcards of the Sagrada Familia where the cranes and scaffolding have been digitally erased. That’s not real! Nor is it a souvenir of what I have actually seen!)
I decided to stick with the Gaudí theme and caught the Metro and then climbed up an incredibly, vertigo-inducingly steep hill (fortunately there are escalators to help you along!) to reach Parc Güell. I loved it. It is a beautiful open space, something that is always welcome in a city the size of Barcelona, and it is dotted with some amazing buildings. But the mosaics! Oh, they are just beautiful, all around the edges of the terrace. I took almost as many photos of the tiles as I did of the rest of the park put together.
The edges of the terrace area
The views from there were also quite stunning so space to check out the views and the tiles was certainly at a premium!
I wandered around the park for a good few hours, enjoying the marvellous sunshine and almost warm weather. There are a lot of paths you can follow and lots of good hill-walking to be had if you’re looking for exercise while in Barcelona. It appeared to be a popular spot for a particular group of masochists of that kind known as joggers.
Looking over the main entrance to the park from the terrace
I spent my late afternoon (after I succumbed to hunger and dragged myself away from Parc Güell) and evening grabbing some fruit salad for lunch from La Boquería and eating it and enjoying some serious people-watching on La Rambla. I also stocked up on some provisions, cooked dinner and enjoyed the free internet at the hostel that night before turning in early.
Loads more photos will be up on my photostream too, including a bunch of photos of those gorgeous tiles!! And some more interesting ones for everyone else not quite as enamoured with Gaudí mosaics as I!