BARCELONA is capital of Catalonia region and second most populated city in Spain. The city has it all. From beaches to mountains to beautiful infrastructure to good food to vibrant atmosphere which makes the city quite popular among tourists. Barcelona remains the most visited city by tourists in Spain. Below Itinerary was followed by me but please keep in mind that I’m bit of an impatient traveler;)
I had such a unique and diverse experience: ranging from food adventure, discovering a genius, having lost in an old city, saw a goosebumps inducing show, having a sense of India before partition, watching a live match in one of the biggest stadiums in the world, mountain & beach visit and much more. Read on:
It would be really great if you could catch a match at Camp Nou (One of the biggest stadiums in the world) like i did or you could have a Camp Nou Tour and Museum visit. Book at least a month ago to catch a live match in the stadium for sane ticket price. To read about my complete camp nou experience: Head here.
Lively and vibrant neighbourhood. Many restaurents, bars and night spots can be found here.
For me it is a neighbourhood where Indians and Pakistanis are living together in harmony and it’s very difficult even for me to say who’s who. Many restaurants and grocery stores in the area is run by them. In some case store’s owner is Indian and employees are Pakistanis and in some it’s vice versa. Walking around the area i thought this is how India would have looked like if there was no partition.
I stayed in El Raval neighbourhood. The famous La Rambla street is located nearby. Any time of the day, the street is filled with tourists, sketch artists, big wooden chairs, restaurants, vendors, souvenir shops, lottery ticket booths. I settled on this restaurant called itapa colon. Biggest mistake of the trip. Worst restaurant experience of my life. Lady at the counter seems uninterested with an expression that seems to suggest “what’s he doing here?” Food was simply worst. I ordered two tapas. Worst spaghetti and noodles I have ever ate. I even noticed tiny mosquito roaming on my table. The waiter was in too much hurry. Even though half of the food were still on the plate. He just did some hands gesture and picked up the plates hastily and I too didn’t bothered since i was in no mood to finish it. I just paid the bill and left. Unfortunately, it was my first food experience in Barcelona. Thankfully, my opinion soon changes when I experienced other restaurants’ food and hospitality. I would suggest to completely avoid eating on La Rambla. Instead, head to Old city or La Boqueria to have delicious meal.
One of the city’s landmarks, with an entrance from La Rambla street. They say if you can’t find it here you can’t find it anywhere in terms of food. Lots of food joints here, ice cream parlous, sweets shops, fruits and vegetables shops, meat shops, don’t ask what kind of meat cause all I can tell is they have it in all shapes and sizes. I ate at the joint called Ramblero which was pretty jam packed, I somehow managed to get a seat at the extreme corner. I ordered two dishes, one with prawns in scrambled eggs and other one fish in sauce. Prawns dish was lip smacking. While fish dish was something one challenged to eat in “Fear Factor” episode. It was really really salty. I mean it’s like chef wanted to save the life of fish but confused salt with water. To quench my thirst I had fruit juice and fruits.
It is located around 3 kms away from La Rambla. Nice place to relax, stroll or soak up the sun. Many restaurants and nightclubs are nearby.
Park guell is located at a high altitude. To get there I had to use multiple escalators which was situated between two neighbourhood and rest of the way by walking that leads to the foot of the stairs of park guell. I climbed the stairs to the breathtaking view of Barcelona. Park is pretty vast and beautiful. I spend my time in the park by climbing the rocks, getting down them, listening street music, watching beautiful paintings by roadside artists, relaxed for a while on Gaudi designed mosaic benches with the gorgeous view to look at, clicked pic of the famous lizard (El Drac), bought souvenirs from the shop. I had a nice time there. Keep aside at least 2 hours to visit this gorgeous park. I bought the entry ticket to park on the spot.
La Sagrada Familia is arguably the most famous landmark of Barcelona which was designed by Antoni Gaudi. It is 20-25 minutes walk from Park Guell. The walk to La Sagrada Familia takes me to the gorgeous neighbourhood of Gracia. There was an insane line for tickets at La Sagrada Familia. Thankfully, i had pre-booked the ticket online. Booking in advance is highly recommended. This roman catholic church is under construction since more than 100 years. It has so much history behind it. Latest estimated time of completion is 2026. This Gaudi’s masterpiece is marvellous to look at from the outside and more so from the inside. One can see the magnificent details and marvel at the architecture even if one don’t know anything about architecture. There’s a museum inside that will take you through the process of building this masterpiece. Every little thing to big ones. After soaking into so much art & knowledge i head out to see other Gaudi’s masterpieces.
Another 10-15 minutes walk from La Sagrada Familia will take you to Casa Mila. Casa batllo is situated nearby to Casa Mila. I didn’t went inside in any of them. Just marvel them from the outside. I had no idea about Gaudi prior to my visit to Barcelona. Thanks to my Barcelona trip, I discovered a great artist and a true genius.
Old City Tour
First thing that hit me after I woke up was today is the last day of my trip. I decided to make most out of it. I head out to reach Placa Reial. I have booked the free old city walking tour. Free waking tours are quite famous in Europe. In free walking tours, you decide the price which you deemed fit after the completion of tour. I was greeted by my guide, an Australian woman. There were approx. 10 people in the group. We started our tour by entering the labyrinth of lanes. Going through those old lanes and looking at those old buildings with all the commentary by our guide does transport you to roman era. Our guide goes on explaining history behind every part of the old city. She told us many interesting facts and some tongue-in-cheek humour. She told us that how here in Barcelona, Caganer (Catalan equivalent of Santa Claus) don’t bring the presents on Christmas rather he shit out the presents which leave everyone in splits. She shows us the location of the movie “Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer” which only I have seen in the group. She told us that here in Barcelona people form human pyramid during festivals to show respect to their Catalan roots. I told everyone about our Indian festival “Dahi Handi” in which we too break the pot full of milk and curd by forming human pyramid. We visited through couple of churches, ruins, Catalan government building, gothic quarter, Jewish district, some really really old buildings. I had really good time but I do wish we had more time to explore each place. I suggest to take a free walking tour and then go back to explore the place which impressed you the most since free walking tours run at their own pace.
Next stop was Montjuic. It is a hill in Barcelona. I catch a bus to reach Montjuic. After reaching Montjuic I find out that cable car to the castle is under repair for next 10 days. I explored the nearby neighbourhood. It seemed people who want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city lives here. It has beautifully painted row houses and a sensational view! I catch a bus to the castle. This castle was built by the Romans to keep watch of their enemies. From here you can have the view of the port and the sea. It’s a old fort now where people come to click selfies with gorgeous view. There’s a huge garden nearby where people were playing Archery. There are many things to visit apart from castle in Montjuic like Magic Fountain, Olympic Stadium, National Art Museum, Archaeology museum.
I set Google maps to the location where I was going to watch the flamenco show. Flamenco is believed to have originated from India. When I reached the location, it turns out it’s near the fountain where I started my old city tour in the morning at Placa Reial. The day comes full circle. After buying a ticket with all the loose change much to the chagrin of ticket counter lady, I settled on my seat which was pretty close to the stage. Show starts with three guys came on stage and took their seats. One guy played guitar and sings and second guy sings and third guy just sit idle for a while. After sometime third guy begin singing. He has a soulful and deep voice. He was singing his lungs out. Crowd was applauding loudly. Their Jugalbandi were really extraordinary. Shortly after a lady entered the stage with tap dancing. Her expressions, body and foot movements were in complete sync. Crowd started cheering and whistling. It was the wow moment of the show. Sound of singing, dancing and music were creating an electrifying atmosphere. After a while her male dancing partner joined her on the stage. They both were amazing together, putting their heart and soul into it while singing and music continues. It’s like they’re hiding their best of the best and revealing their magic slowly slowly. Even though I did not understand a word they are singing but were able to connect with their performance emotionally. It was one of those experiences where music transcends language. It was the perfect way to end my trip with high note. It was a memorable and exhilarating experience. Music is the best way to bind and bring people together irrespective of their nationality, sex and religion.
Not So Far From Barcelona: A day trip to one of these places can be added into an itinerary: Sitges, Montserrat(Guide To Montserrat), Figueres, Girona, Tarragona, Tossa de Mar.