Barcelona – Badelona

Barcelona. One of the many places to visit on my bucket list. When we booked our most recent adventure I couldn’t contain my excitement. I found myself looking at old pieces of artwork from high school where I first found my love for Gaudi’s architecture. The colours, the shapes and the unusual! I was so excited!

We decided to stay for 4 days and booked cheap flights through Skyscanner (Ryanair) and found our hotel on Booking.com as we found this much more reassuring than booking a package deal following our problems with our Rome holiday.

Don’t worry about transfers to and from the city centre to the airport – Aerobus has you covered. It’s cheap and you can pre-book tickets online. It’s a great, air-conditioned, regular service and has a few stops around the city.

We decided to stay outside of Barcelona, in a small town called Badelona. It’s a lovely little town with sandy beaches and a metro stop direct to La Sagrada Familia. Our hotel was basic and dated, but it was clean, with a seaview room.  The staff were friendly and spoke fluent English and the breakfast was ok.

We bought the Barcelona card which meant all public transport was covered by the card however we probably would have been better with the T-10 ticket. We found the Barcelona not value for money – the key places we wanted to visit were not included in the card. The Picasso museum was pre-book tickets only and we found that we were unable to visit as there were no tickets available for the days we were in Barcelona. Besides travel, we basically paid for a discount card and it got us into the Chocolate museum and one of the small museums in the Gothic Quarter for free… A lot of the discounts were ‘unavailable’. Most of the museums are closed on a Monday too – If you do get a Barcelona card, get it from Tuesday onwards.

For anything Gaudi related you will need to pre-book tickets. We arrived early morning to La Sagrada Familia to buy tickets for a 5:30pm timeslot that day. We walked to Park Guell to find the same problem so booked tickets for the next day. Word of advice – Do not walk to Park Guell unless you want a challenge! It’s uphill…. a steep hill and it’s painful. There’s a bus from Arc De Triomf which takes you there.

Arc de Triomf is one of those surprising landmarks that you don’t expect to like but you’re amazed by the detail and work that’s gone into it when you get to it. The gargoyles and the detail were outstanding.

I was told before my visit to Barcelona that it wasn’t worth going inside La Sagrada Familia and the architecture outside would be enough. This couldn’t be more from the truth. Although the exterior is magnificent the interior outweighs this.
There are no words to describe the magic of the stained glass and the colours they create.
I was in awe everywhere I looked – from the Spiral staircases, the ceiling, the carvings and the organ. My only regret is not venturing up into the towers.

Park Guell is a beautiful place. There’s a free access area around the monument zone, which is well worth a walk around as you can see some of the architecture from the three crosses on the hill. There are some lovely picnic spots and you can see the full city skyline which is breath taking. I enjoyed seeing the wild parakeets hiding in the palm trees and the different types of plants and flowers. It’s quite hilly and steep. Take your walking shoes and take plenty of water as there are no shops or stands inside the park area. Inside the monument area was busy but beautiful. The shapes and colours were even better than I’d imagined they could be. It’s well worth a walk around.

Barcelona Zoo is one of the best I’ve visited. I’d recommend getting there in the morning so you don’t miss the dolphin and seal shows. They have every animal and bird imaginable in large enclosures and appear to be continually improving the zoo. It took us hours to walk around. I loved seeing the giraffes, elephants and the beautiful big cats. It was the first time I’d ever seen a dolphin and didn’t realise how beautiful and intelligent they are.  It’s worth a visit.

We also went near Barcelona beach and visited the Aquarium. It has a large underwater walkway, sharks swim over your heads and it’s really interesting.  They even have a penguin area much to my husbands dislike (he’s scared of them!)

Barcelona beach was packed, there was not a space on the beach to sit. It’s worth a trip down that way as a lot of the good places to eat, entertainment and shops are that way but it’s very busy so beware of pickpockets! I was glad we could retreat to Badelona beach as we had it to ourselves.

The Gothic Quarter is beautiful. I love how the streets intertwine and the style of the architecture and we found an amazing pizza place hidden away in one of the side streets.  We went inside a few of the museums included on the Barcelona card (as we thought we’d better try make the most of it) however they were quite hard to find. We went into a church area which had geese living inside, it was really interesting. We visited one of the museums which lead us underground to the old roman ruins too. It was like a maze underground.

The Chocolate Museum was very small, but very interesting. Our tickets were made from chocolate, the sculptures were so detailed and it was great to see the workshops in the building across from the museum where they were making chocolate products.

We walked over 70 km in just 3 days and even though we took decent walking shoes we had blisters on our poor feet! Although would not regret anything.

If we would have had an extra day or two we would have ensured we were booked in the Picasso museum, visited Casa Batllo, the fountain, the Olympic stadium and walked through Las Ramblas – although that does leave us something new for next time so looking forward to the adventure!

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