This blog is from the first independent international trip with a childhood friend. Travelling always excites me right from choosing a destination to making bookings. But never thought of going there on my own. So Barcelona is where we started from
As I am proud to say, that we Indians believe spending less on travel, instead invest in something materialistic or save it for future. You can take a look at my another blog specifically addressing the topic: Spending on travel being a middle class Indian. You can read it here.
I expected a lot from Europe, as I have grown up hearing travel stories of Europe. But believe me, we cannot travel each and every inch of this earth in a long weekend or annually planned vacations. Every new place has a lot to offer, its just you need to have that eye and do not over expect.So just open a map, pick a destination book tickets and be there Or an alternative route which I follow is to look for the cheaper tickets, cheaper times and then make your decision.
So, Barcelona is where we started our trip from. It is a lively city if you are an Indian you can relate it to Mumbai. The reason why is compared Barcelona to Mumbai is that weather is almost the same, both are happening cities, coastlines, easy going.
I would personally suggest these 8 must visit if you visit Barcelona:
Take a FatTireTour
Though I am not the kind, who would like to spend in city tours. I thought that these cycle bike tours aren’t generally worth it. But I will explain you at the end, that what made me list this on the top
After a lot of research, We decided to go for FatTireTours. This company just redefined my predetermined image of bike tours.
I mean they are completely worth it, because of the following points:
- Extremely friendly guides, knowledgeable enough.
- Great to meet fellow travellers.
- Those cathedrals, monuments, ruins would have a completely different meaning if somebody is there to explain.
- They organise a self-paid group lunch after the tour, which is a great place to socialise with fellow travellers.
- Bikes they have are very well-maintained.
- Tour itineraries are well designed.
- You can book a tour online.
Quimet & Quimet(Tapas Bar)
This is a five generation old tapas bar on a quiet residential street. We got to know about them from Google. We reached there around 6, it was closed. So we waited there sitting on a thin pavement. There were some 10-12 people standing around and we don’t have any idea that these people are waiting for it to be open. I thought they were just hanging out. As its 5-10 mins to 7, what we saw is all the people sitting/standing there stood up and formed a queue and this is supposed to be a queue for this restaurant to our surprise.
So, even though we reached before time, but due lack of awareness we are still on the 7-8 place in the queue. But let me tell you, this good old bar still has that charm which makes it worthwhile. An exquisite collection of wines. Since the crowd just flooded when the clock ticked 7, so you need to target a good place to stand and enjoy the drinks. Tapas there were extravagant, being our first encounter with Tapas*. If you like Sangria, love to try Tapas, a waffle lover. I think it couldn’t be any better than starting your trip with a visit here.
What we had: We started with a Sangria which was outstanding, some Tapas. In Desert we had we had a wafer with the cream.*Tapas – small Spanish savoury dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar.
Walk around La Rambla
La Rambla is the most happening part of the town. It is vibrant, lively, busy, full of street artists. You will find everything here, which can define word “happening” for you. Several cuisines around to soothe your taste buds as well. Spend some time walking the streets around. I am sure they will be up to your expectations if you have some predetermined images about Spanish streets. They are quiet, beautiful architecture, flowers hanging around the balconies.
What we had is a chicken kebab in pita bread for around 4.5 euros.(Turkish).
It is reviewed and rated as the best fresh food market in the world. It is a true pleasure for all your senses, eyes. A lot of colours, spices, meats, fruits, cheese, drinks, fresh sliced fruits, fresh garden fruits, dry fruits, ice cream, juices, etc. Overall this place will make you feel good, and try at least 1 new thing.
What we had is a bowl of fresh fruits, strawberry and a shake. All of them for 2 euros.
It is an exceptional piece of perfection and consistency. Its a largest unfinished Roman Catholic church since 5 centuries. You can read its formal description on wiki and hell lot of other blogs. I actually included this place because I am always open to seeing something new and exhilarating. It is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Designed beautifully, especially how the light reflections changes with the time of the day by the coloured glasses used is something different.
Take a tour with an audio guide, you can easily spend some hours exploring the magnificent unfinished site which is still under construction for 130+ years. You can buy these packages from sites like Viator(A TripAdvisor Venture) or its own official site.
Where I booked from is http://www.sagradafamilia.org/eng/tickets/index.html
Once you are in Barcelona, you will realise that Plaza Espana is a major part of the city, connecting a lot of places. Most of the places you would like to go to, this is the place you would either transit from or pass from. So, why not enjoy a light and sound fountain show at The Magic Fountain of Montjuï. This is just beautiful and you don’t even have to pay for any tickets here. You just need to confirm the seasonal timings, mostly it closed around 22:00 hrs.
The magic fountain is a spectacular mix of colour, light, motion, music and water acrobatics. Located in the centre of the city, easily reachable by any metro or bus. Plaça Espanya is the name of the station. So this can easily fit into any itinerary when tired after a day tour and want to end the day with something soothing and relaxing.
Pinchos at Poble Sec
Let me brief you on what Pinchos is. Pinchos or pintxos are small round shaped bread topped with cheese, fish, meat or seafood. Pinchos are held together by skewers and the numbers of skewers in the plate at the end decides how much to pay for at the end. They go well with wine and beer.
Calle Blai is actually the name of this street, is a lively broad street in the area called Poble Sec. This street is full of pinchos bars that attract a young crowd every evening. Pincho bars are generally open from lunchtime but become extremely busy by about 9 or 10 pm, so if you want to eat at a table, it is best to get there early evening.
Where I have been http://www.grupotasqueta.com/
Buy a pair of espadrilles from La Manual Alpargatera (The Handmade Shoe Shop)
: In Catalan, most espadrilles–known as espardenya –are made of canvas with a sole made of braided rope wound into a coil. Styles range from the no-frills version in a variety of colours to fancy footwear with embroidered tops to sporty, sneaker-like lace-ups.This is a 70-year-old store in the heart of the Ciutat Vella, or old city is actually the best source for shopping some real espadrilles in Barcelona. Not only does La Manual Alpargatera have all the charm of an old-fashioned shop, it offers approximately 100 styles, all handmade. You can also see locals busy in making new pairs. I used espadrilles made by them. I must say it lasted long and clearly signifies the knack for perfection they put in every pair.
Some other shots from the city
The reasons you should take a tour on the first day in the city are:
- They make you see main attractions of the city on the very first day but in a summarised manner.
- Later on, as per your interest, you can choose from all the places visited and give the desired ones a much more detailed visit.
- You will get a chance to see a lot of fellow travellers, at least some of them were in the city for more than a day. They could share their piece of suggestions and advice which are always useful. That’s what we are doing on this blog even. It’s always good to see the city on your own when you have little background knowledge about the local places and culture.