So my trip got off to a good start. A couple of friends drove me to the airport which was much easier than the bus, so that was appreciated. Checking in and security was fairly painless and the flight was pretty standard. We landed in Barcelona and I got out through customs and then swung back around to the departure lounge to see my flight had been cancelled. My heart sank a little before I rallied and heading off to find out what happens next.
So after waiting for my turn at the check-in desk, I was told the next flight was at 11 pm the next day. I wasn’t looking forward to sleeping in the airport, but he quickly told me we were being put up in a hotel with food vouchers, so not bad at all. I appreciated the luxury a four-star hotel provides and a day in Barcelona is nothing to be sad about. So after a decent nights sleep in the extra comfy bed and the free breakfast I headed out to get reacquainted with Barcelona.
My rough plan was to head down La Rambla and then cross over to the gothic quarter. Which was my favourite part of my last trip. That lead me to the open square outside the Cathedral of Saint Eulalia, which is as breathtaking as I remember. The huge vaulted ceilings are supported by dozens of columns and the stonework is covered in intricate carvings. Some of it is painfully catholic with exclusive gold and icons, but still, it’s a must-see. The free admission doesn’t hurt either. There is a rooftop viewing point but for some reason, it was closed which was a real shame. The view of the Barcelona skyline was pretty amazing last time.
As I explored the small, crowded streets of the gothic quarter I stopped to look at anything that looked interesting, always a fan of gothic architecture and aware I had nowhere to be for 6 hours. Sure if I wanted to I probably could have crammed in a whirlwind of sightseeing in those 6 hours, but I preferred my slow paced wander around the city which started in the northern quarter before walking up to see the Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. Both are pretty fascinating buildings that charge far too much to actually enter. So once again I would have to miss them both. But the exteriors of both are pretty spectacular.
I fell in love I fell in love with Barcelona the last time I was here and this has just reminded me of the feeling. Aside from the heat, which I really need to be better at dealing with, it’s an amazing city. There is so much history and culture here, so much to see and do. But it’s also a very real city, you can imagine living here, not just being a tourist. And as I give more and more thought to living abroad for a while Barcelona is definitely up there on the list of possibilities.
I then walked along the highway to the Sagrada Familia which, and this might not be a popular opinion, I think is Barcelona’s most overrated attraction. I appreciate it isn’t finished but I just don’t think it looks very nice. I much prefer the more traditional looking basilicas. But it remains ever so popular with tourists and it was packed around it, maybe another reason I don’t rate it.
Next, I stumbled upon the arch de triumph and walked beneath it and followed the long street that runs away from it. This is close to where I stayed last time so all the streets started to look fairly familiar and I could remember certain restaurants and bars.
After a little detour around those familiar streets, I headed to the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar. Another beautiful building with an impressive ceiling height. Its design is similar to the cathedral with some amazing stonework and stunning stained glass paintings.
My wandering then pretty much came to an end. I stopped for some food and enjoyed some lovely tapas and a couple of cervezas before visiting the remains of the original Roman city walls. I then graded back up past the cathedral and back to the hotel to get the free bus back to the airport.
It was nice to get to see Barcelona again, even if it was just for an afternoon. On the bus back we passed the old bullfighting ring and the art gallery that sits atop a huge set of stairs, which we had visited last time, and it reminded me how much more there was to see that I hadn’t had time for. If you were visiting properly I would recommend the bus tour, which was really interesting last time and lets you get around the city at the same time.
Barcelona certainly has a lot to offer and should definitely be on your list of places to visit. I’m glad I got this chance to explore it again, but for now, I’m focused on the start of my trip in Lima, just have to get through this 13-hour flight first.