How do you know that your city break with your sister is off to a good start? When she finds an e-mail whilst we’re in the taxi to the hotel saying that our room booking has been cancelled…
Stay calm. Act dumb. Pretend you never got the e-mail. Smile. And check in.
We bagged our hotel on a booking.com deal and it couldn’t have been better, the staff were welcoming, and the rooftop bar had the perfect view of the Sagrada Familía – such a nice setting for an evening drink before heading out!
Me, being the organisational weirdo that I am, put together a rough guide for our trip, including: things to do and see, prices and places to eat. My sister laughed at me, but it definitely came in handy!
I would recommend to book most of your tickets online if possible as the sights and trips are so popular that you don’t want to turn up on the day and be disappointed. It’s also a good money and time-saver as a lot of the websites offer online-booking discounts and you skip the queues!
- Casa de Batlló – Gaudí is an architectural genius! I’ve always had a dream to
design and build my own house (I’m a big Grand Designs geek) but, after seeing Gaudí’s designs and concepts, it’s raised the bar completely! The sights provide lots of information and they also have virtual tours to see what the sights were like during the time Gaudí was alive – so clever!
- Barcelona Zoo – I’m very wary about visiting zoos because of my worry of the animals’ welfare but Barcelona Zoo specialises in animal conversation, research and dissemination of wildlife! A personal fave of mine to see are prairie dogs, so cute! We also were nearly attacked by a rogue, over-confident peacock…
- Sagrada Familía: Nativity Tower – This never-finished cathedral is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! The designs reminded me of something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory because they’re so quirky and colourful! We booked a tour to the top of the Nativity Tower so we could walk across the bridge to see the best view of Barcelona! It’s definitely worth a go if you’re not afraid of heights, and the walk back down the tower is a good work-out before a Sangria or two…
- Open-top Bus Tour (Red Route) – With so much to see and only 4 days to see it, this was the best and most cost-effective way to see all of the famous sights of Barcelona. The sun was beaming (I have the sunburn to prove it) and my feet were sore from all of the walking, so we got comfortable on the top-deck of the bus and got glimpses of everything from Montjuic to Port Olimpic to the Sagrada Familía. You could hop on and off the bus at your own leisure if you wanted to stick around and explore.
- Park Güell – I swear no one warns you about the walk up the steep streets to get to the park. I got to the top and was panting, and that was before walking around the park… The park is fresh and full of plants and flowers, but of course has it’s own spin of Gaudí designs to liven it up! It’s such a lovely walk (with an optional ice cream) and definitely worth a visit!
- Shopping: Passeig de Gràcia, La Rambla, Catalunya, Cathedral Flea Market –If you’re on a tight budget and you’ve got a shopping addiction, then this place won’t help your cause; I have never seen to many designer shops in my life! Unfortunately, all I could do was window-shop and drool over what I can’t afford, ha. But if you’re a lover of Zara, Mango, Pull & Bear, etc. then you’re in luck because they are everywhere. I’d be dying to get this tasselled jacket from Zara for ages and found it in Barca for over £20 cheaper. It was fate, so I had to get it!
As you may know, food is a big deal to me, so I was constantly browsing menus as we explored the city and finding places that were filled with locals. Paella is one of my favourite meals and so this was definitely on the top of my search list (although it can be difficult to find when most serve minimum 2 people and my sister hates it, ahhh!) – but thankful I ate paella … twice. Here are a few of my fave places that we ate:
- Barca de Salamanca, Port Olimpic – If you want to feel like royalty then go here, the customer service is second to none! My sister and I shared salt-baked seabass and my mouth is watering as I’m even typing about it … and the complimentary peach liquor and homemade cake really topped it the night off!
- Café Menssana, Poble Nou – I have a slight obsession with plants and the whole “earthy feel” and this little café was all of that, with its wooden décor and hanging plants. And it’s always a good sign when it’s full of local people! I had the roasted vegetable and halloumi salad – deeeeelicious!
- Gelateria, La Rambla – We visited this little stand 3 nights in a row because they did the dreamiest homemade ice cream!
- Singular, near Sagrada Familía – Another little find that I loved the look of (I do
eat at places based on the food and not just the look, honestly)!
- Ambos Mundos, Plaça Reial – Twice we ate in Plaça Reial because the square was just so beautiful (it reminded me of a James Bond setting) and so many of the restaurants were full of people eating so we thought that was a good sign! They all do the usual sweet-talking to try to entice you into their restaurants, but we chose ones that had the most people eating and with the best-looking menu! My food was delicious both times but due to their main focus of luring people in, we waited so long to be served every time we wanted to order something. This got really annoying! However, a mouth-watering homemade paella made up for it!
My feet throbbed every night that I got into bed, but I experienced so much of Barcelona and I absolutely loved it! It’s always fun going away with my sister, especially when you get stuck in between the underground subway automatic doors and she has to pull you back out… or when you are both so sunburnt that you just lie on your beds eating pick n mix and chatting because it’s too painful to move, ha. I already cannot wait to start browsing and planning next year’s sister trip!
“Tomorrow we will do beautiful things” – Antonio Gaudí
Thank you for reading my post – let me know what you think!
Ayre Hotel Rosellón
Trip Advisor – 4.5
Booking.com – 8.7
La Barca del Salamanca Restaurant
Papitu, Mercado Boqueria
Santa Maria Del Mar Restaurant, near Plaça Born