So my name is Chelsea and I’ve just spent a month exploring Italy (with a brief stopover in Spain) with my partner Adam and I thought I would share my experiences, plus leave something for me to look back on!
Our first stop on our tour was Barcelona. We were flying from London Gatwick at 6.50am, this is something I’m so bad at, I get so excited to book flights I don’t bother waiting for them to come to the right airport. Gatwick is a real pain in the arse to get to from where I live, in Milton Keynes. I could only get a lift as far as London Luton and the coaches between MK and Gatwick would require us waiting in the airport for a big chunk of time. In the end I came up with a solution that involved my mum dropping us at Luton and then getting a coach between Luton and Gatwick.
We arrived at the airport with perfect timing and by the time we had grabbed a sandwich we could head to the gate. Unfortunately once boarded on the plane we were stuck on the runway for another 50 minutes. Despite being frustrating it was made slightly better by the fact we were in front row so had a lot of leg room.
It was a short journey though and with wind on our side we managed to arrive only 15 minutes later than planned. Barcelona airport is easy to navigate and also makes up part of the metro system. The ticket machines could be changed to English and were easy to manoeuvre and we bought a T10 ticket for 9.95 euros. This allowed us 10 trips on the metro.
It took about half an hour to get to our stop, Passeig De Gracia. Our hotel, Hotel Victoria Palace, was on one of the streets just next to the station. It wasn’t as easy as I had initially assumed it would be, it reminded me of New York, in that I came out of the station and didn’t know which way was north, east etc. As a result we turned left before realising we should have turned right and went up before realising we needed to go down.
We found our hotel though, grateful that we had made a note of their door number as they were incredibly easy to miss otherwise. Unfortunately we were too early for check in which was a bit of a pain because the weather in Barcelona was overcast but humid and we felt a bit sweaty. The receptionist was very friendly though and we freshened up in their toilets and they locked our bags away for later.
We went to the Palau De Musica Catalana for our 1pm guided tour. We found Barcelona quite easy to navigate and made it there with plenty of time. We had prebooked tickets, at first we were a bit confused at first because the entrance looked to be at the front but is actually to the side through their cafe. If you hadn’t prebooked tickets I don’t think it would have been a problem because the queue didn’t look to be that big at all.
The Palau is a beautiful concert venue with a rich history and the tour guide was really funny and informative. There were some beautiful stained glass windows in the place and some gorgeous tiling as well. It was a really nice start to our day. A tour costs 18 euros, they run every half an hour and they last approximately an hour.
Afterwards we headed back to the hotel for our much needed freshen up. The hotel room was nice, it was clean, modern and a moderate size. We had a fridge and a tv and a large wardrobe. If I had any criticism it would be that the room was a bit dark, it was decorated in brown, but we had a huge shower and that made up for it. Overall the hotel was a really affordable choice in a great location.
The metro in Barcelona doesn’t run as often as ones in other cities and we were late to our lunch reservation due to having to wait 15 minutes for the next train. We had decided to have lunch at Platja Ca La Nuri, a gorgeous restaurant right on the beach. Whilst their A La Carte menu was quite expensive they had a good value lunch menu so we thought we’d check it out. It was a really amazing meal. Tripadvisor reviews had advised me to try the paella and as part of the menu there was a smoked sausage and green bean paella so both Adam and I decided to go for that.
As we had both ordered the same dish they asked us if we would like it served on 2 separate plates or in a large dish. We chose the large dish as we thought it would be more novel. Adam served it up when it arrived and it was absolutely delicious. The meal was finished off with a slice of apple crumble tart which was nice. Sitting there on the terrace sipping my wine and looking out to the beach was one of those moments when I thought ‘We’re finally here!’. This trip was a year in planning!
After lunch we made our way to go see the Church of La Sagrada Familia. It’s currently unfinished as Gaudi, the architect, was killed by a tram before it’s finish, but finished or not, it totally blew me away. We had reserved tickets to this in advance and despite being late to our reservation (the restaurant was a bit slow getting our bill) we walked straight in. The stained glass windows meant the building literally glowed. Adam described it as looking like the lair of a Bond villian. We spent half an hour walking around with our mouths open and our heads up. After leaving we went to sit in the park opposite to admire the intricate spires. I soooo recommend seeing this if you’re in Barcelona.
We decided to stroll to our next destinations as, despite air conditioned trains, the metro platforms were like saunas and we didn’t feel like we could face it again. We walked to Casa Batllo, which was the house of Gaudi. The entry price is 21.50 euros and including in that is an audio guide. It was quite clever as it was connected to a phone like device that when you guided around the room showed you what it looked like when he lived there. The architecture of the place was fantastic and there was so much to see. The tour takes you right up the roof terrace and there is a lot to marvel at.
It was at that point that we decided to put a stop to our day in Barcelona. It was about 7.30pm by this point but we had travelled all night and were desperate to sleep. The many steps of the Casa Batllo had finally broken us. There was a little supermarket across from our room so we bought a few snacks and we were back at the hotel, asleep, by 9pm.