When I first found £30 tickets from Edinburgh to Barcelona on RyanAir, I thought I was dreaming. It was already 10pm after all, and I had never seen the tickets drop below £100 before. Not wanting to miss my opportunity, I bought tickets for my boyfriend and I without even stopping to consult him, so it’s a good thing he’s used to me dragging him along on my travel whims!
A month and a half later, we touched down in Spain and I was able to cross another country off of my list! After checking into our Airbnb, we set off to grab some lunch and get exploring. Thanks to our trusty best friend Yelp, we found ourselves in a trendy little cafe a few minutes walk away from our apartment, where we had our first encounter with trying to use our less than stellar Spanish (my boyfriend took it in high school, while I’m 30% fluent on Duolingo. You guess who did most of the talking.) Nevertheless, we were pretty excited to be able to eat something other than dining hall food for the first time in a long while, especially once we saw the food that was set down in front of us.
After inhaling our lunch, we set out for the essential Barcelona experience of walking down La Rambla. We pointed out all of the dogs we saw, stopped to smell the flowers, and made it all the way down to the Columbus Monument, where we talked a little bit about how much Columbus sucked and appreciated the beauty of the city that was surrounding us.
From there, it was onto the Plaça Reial, where we took in the peacefulness of the square before getting our bearings and starting to explore the Gothic Quarter.
We didn’t have much of a plan in mind, though there were a few points that we knew we wanted to hit, so we just started walking and, funnily enough, managed to find them without really trying to! We happened upon La Cathedral with a Christmas market set up in front of it, managed to do a circle back to Plaça Reial, and then finally resorted to Google Maps to find the Barcelona History Museum. I had been super excited about this museum ever since I read about it in my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook and learned that you could walk through actual Roman ruins. To say the least, they were awesome.
Exhausted from an afternoon of exploring, we decided to head back to our room for a few hours to just rest before dinner, which ended up being worth it as we perfectly timed it to escape the rain! Around 8, we showed up at a tapas bar and once again struggled with our Spanish, deciding to just order by sight from the tapas that were laid out on the counter. As a result, I couldn’t tell you exactly what we had, but I can tell you that they were DELICIOUS.
From there, it was on to a proper dinner on a terrace overlooking the Cathedral de Santa Maria Del Mar, which was surprisingly cheap for such an excellent location and was also DELICIOUS. I’m still dreaming about the soya sauce on the chicken that I had. Finally, we took the side streets home, drinking in the liveliness of the city.
The next morning, we were up quite a bit later than planned – probably due to the fact that we had been up at 3am and on our feet for the rest of the day the day before. We decided to have a chilled out late morning at the Picasso Museum, which ended up being the perfect size for about an hour’s worth of entertainment before we embarked on our big afternoon adventure. Since the museum was organised chronologically, you got to see the paintings get trippier and trippier as you went along. I’m not art aficionado by any means, but I did particularly enjoy the room dedicated solely to the eight days that he spent painting eight large paintings of pigeons. It was awesome.
After a short stop for breakfast for lunch at a little hole in the wall cafe that had DELICIOUS scrambled eggs (can you sense a pattern here?), we set off for an hour long trek all the way up to Park Güell. Sure, we could have taken public transport, but since it only saved us about fifteen minutes and we were running low on money, we figured that walking was the way to go – especially since we could see a whole bunch of the city that way. We even accidentally stumbled upon the Arc de Triomf!
Even though we had already seen what all of the guide books and instagram shots tell you to see, we decided to take some time to explore the rest of the park – aka the bit that you don’t have to pay for. When it started with steep stairs and walks uphill, we were pretty discouraged, but it was totally worth it. Although the rest of the park is definitely different from the monumental zone, it still has a sense of whimsy to it, and is much more peaceful than the famous part of the park. I got plenty of time to shoot a view of the city with some cooperative pigeons as my subjects and take all of the pictures of the giant succulents that I wanted to without ever feeling rushed.
Then, it was time to head off again! Since my boyfriend was starving, he grabbed a jamón sandwich from a little cafeteria before we got too far, and I unabashedly stole half of it because jamón is friggin’ DELICIOUS. Our next stop? La Sagrada Familia! Even though every guidebook ever tells you to visit as early in the morning as you can, we decided to save the best for last, since tickets were half price for under-30s after 4pm (through the end of 2016 – check it out if you’ll be in Barcelona this year!). Since we visited in late November, we were lucky enough for there to be practically no one around, and, well, La Sagrada Familia took our breath away. My pictures don’t do it nearly enough justice, especially since my camera decided to die about five minutes after we made it inside, but it was absolutely beautiful.
And that was it! We flew out the next morning, pretty sad to have to head back to university life and our upcoming exams. Even though we were only there for two short days, I think we managed to pack a lot in without getting overtired, but I know that I’ll certainly be back as soon as I possibly can because I absolutely fell in love with Barcelona while we were there.