Barcelona | The Perfect Pick-Me-Up

Leaving Bilbao, I wasn’t feeling on top form. After an amazing weekend, I was sad to be alone again and with difficult things at home to deal with, I wondered whether I should just head back to England. Was I enjoying myself? Is this what I wanted? Pushing it to the back of my mind, I decided to just have a few days in Barcelona and if I still felt the same I’d just head home.

A 7-hour train journey from Bilbao and I arrived in Barcelona, although it felt like it had only been a couple of hours. The scenery was stunning and the sun shining, two things I absolutely love about travelling, and I was back in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities. I was already starting to feel better!

I had a hostel booked in Barcelona and wasn’t sure whether it was a good shout – maybe I needed a few days on my own to be able to just chill out and spread out. I needn’t have worried, as the Barcelona hostel was one of the best I’ve stayed in and I felt so comfortable there. After just enough time to grab dinner, my first day was done and I had an early night ready for fun in the sun tomorrow!

Having visited Barcelona twice before, there was no pressure to rush about and see all the sights. Instead, I could take my time wandering the side streets and really getting to see the city. My first day was just that – wandering down Las Ramblas without feeling like I had to take photos of absolutely everything, mooching around La Boqueria to buy something for lunch before making my way down to the marina to just chill. I sat and watched the boats for a while, watched the tourists bustling around and then did a bit of shopping. 

Wandering back to the hostel in the afternoon, I felt so much happier than I had the day before, and decided that instead of heading home, I’d extend my visit in Barcelona for another day. I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing with a coffee, then realised that I’d spent my day lazing about when I could have visited the World Photography Exhibition. Rushing there before it closed, I was glad I’d made the quick dash because it was well worth the entrance fee and was so thought provoking in a way that talented photography can be.

Still thinking about the photos I’d seen, I wandered to get take out paella and sat to eat in Plaça de Catalunya. I love sitting and watching people bustle about, wondering what they’re up to, where they’ve been and where they’re going. As I considered this about the many people passing me in the square, I heard a smack and turned to see that a pigeon had fallen out of the sky and landed right behind me. Nothing quite as off-putting as a dead pigeon, I quickly finished my dinner and made my way to bed for a quiet night with Netflix and a catch up with some of the people in my hostel dorm. 

My absolute favourite building is La Sagrada Familia. I first visited in 2012, my first visit to Barcelona, and had attempted another visit in 2018 but it had sold out of tickets. You’d think I would have pre-booked a ticket for this trip so that same didn’t happen to me again, but after chatting with someone in the hostel, they said they’d managed to get a ticket on the day, so I decided to try my luck!

Just a short 30-minute walk and I was there, to find there were no tickets for another 2 hours. Ah. Well, there were tickets, that’s a good sign. Not wanting to wait 2 hours, I decided to have a look online, only to find there were plenty of tickets available on there for sooner than 2 hours! All booked and paid for, I soaked up the sun in the nearby park for a short while before going in and falling in love with the building all over again. I had intended to visit the picturesque park behind the church after my visit, but completely forgot until I’m writing this…oops! Instead, I jumped on the metro and made my way to Tibidabo, to see the church on top of the hill.

Although a bit of effort to get to, being at possibly the highest point in the city is quite something. The views were just amazing, and after chatting to a few people at the top of the church I made my way back down. It had taken 2 trains, a bus and a funicular to get to the top, but once I’d caught the funicular back down I thought it’d be more fun to walk back to the train station. Working on the logic that as long as I was going downhill I was going in the right direction, I took a shortcut through a park that seemed like a good idea until I got lost and realised a couple had been following my directions to get down. Only when I stopped in the middle of a clearing did we all realise I had no idea where I was going – psst…I knew that along! – and I ended up following them back to the main road. A short train back to Plaça de Catalunya, I had a quick freshen up before heading out for dinner. 

The plan for dinner was to revisit a restaurant that I’d been to in 2018, that had the most amazing tapas for dirt cheap prices – excellent for a solo traveller on a budget! When I got there I found that the restaurant had changed their menu and now only had ‘tapas’ that sat around €15-20 a plate. Who are they kidding, that’s not tapas! I’m still getting used to the awkward moment when someone talks to me but I don’t want to eat there, so I made my excuses and after wandering around for a while checking out my options, I settled for a place nearby that had a patatas bravas dish with eggs and chorizo on. Yum. 

After a late night relaxing in the hostel, I slept in far too long and then spent ages chatting to people in my dorm room. Turns out, the hostel had been a great shout to be able to chat and socialise with people, just what I needed after my little wobble of whether I wanted to carry on travelling alone. By now, it’s been nearly 6 weeks since I first left to travel. Although I’d had a quick trip home for a hen do, I felt like I’d been on the go for 6 weeks. Sure, it’s better than being at work, but it can get tiring being so active for so long. And so today, my plan was just to get myself to the beach. Stopping on the way to grab some food for lunch and a bikini top to try and even out my dodgy t-shirt/backpack strap tan, and I settled in with a book on the beach. Although the ‘cold beer, water, agua, cerveza’ chants got annoying really quickly, it was lovely to just do nothing for a few hours. 

As the shade crept over the beach, I made my way back to the hostel, picking up paella to eat en route. Another dinner enjoyed in Plaça de Catalunya, I watched people bustling about the fair that was taking place there. Public speakers, singers and lots of stalls, I wasn’t sure what it was until I googled the name that kept popping up everywhere and found it was a political fair. 

After a well needed shower I packed up what I could to get my bag ready for moving on to Marseille tomorrow, and then made my way to Montjuic fountain to watch the light show. I’d wanted to see the light and fountain show since my first visit to Barcelona in 2012, but hadn’t been able to go until now. It was totally worth the last minute rush to get there, and I was so glad to finally be able to see it.

< Bilbao | #18 | Marseille >

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