In our mind’s eye, our trip to Spain would always include a visit to Barcelona. Of course we were going there! How can we miss out such a city? But as we travelled closer, we started to have second thoughts… Where do we park Rex for our visit? Will it be safe? Barcelona is known for its pick-pockets and thefts. Not to mention driving Rex in the city, the sort of experience that is guaranteed to cause tension and stress, especially when Gloria Garmin is trying to send us one way, only to find the road closed for roadworks and finding ourselves in a right pickle with Gloria Garmin simply giving up… Memories of our trip to Marseille (a beautiful city? We wouldn’t know…!) resurfaced, when we were that stressed by the time we found that Aire after a detour through the city centre with its many low tunnels, that all we could do was have a glass of wine before deciding to just leave the next day.
We came south, closer and closer to Barcelona. We tried to find campsites nearby that were open and wouldn’t charge a small fortune. We researched the things to see and do in Barcelona (so many things!) and we read the blogs from other travellers who have gone before us, but we couldn’t quite get the confidence together to decide that we would go. In Blanes, we made the decision… We would go inland to Montserrat, and then south to Sitges and skip Barcelona. Maybe visit Barcelona as a city trip one day, by plane and without Luna.
In Sitges, we found a great park up by the seafront. We settled in and settled down. As we explored the little town, and read about it in the book, we realised there was a quick train into Barcelona. Maybe… just maybe… we could leave Rex in Sitges and go to Barcelona just for the day? A quick visit to the station and the decision was finally made! Yes, we will go to Barcelona!
We packed a picnic, got a money-belt to beat the pick-pockets and set off first thing in the morning. The train from Sitges to Barcelona takes about 40 minutes, costs €8.40 pp return and goes about every 15 minutes. There are three main train stations in Barcelona that it stops at: Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Passeig de Gracia and Estacio de Franca. Each station will bring you to a different area of the city which could be where you want to start your day. Sants is near the Montjuic area, closest to the Montjuic Hill with its castle and the cable car. Passeig de Gracia is in Eixample and is the most central of the three, it’s where most of the Modernist buildings are and Casa Batlló is right outside the train station. Estacio de Franca is closest to the beach in Barcelona, and near Barcelonetta.
We stopped at Passeig de Gracia, from where it was a short walk into the Old town. We visited the old Cathedral first and walked around the ancient part of the town, still inside some of the old Roman walls. The narrow little lanes host a number of little shops, bars, restaurants and cafés giving a welcoming feel. The beaches are just a bit further from the Old Town so we headed there next and soon we found ourselves wondering through he lanes of Barcelonetta which has its own unique character; it feels like the old working part of the city, density populated with apartment blocks with tavernas on ground level.
A visit to the beach was in order, even if it was raining quite heavily by now. Luna enjoyed a quick run, so she was wet, sandy and muddy now. And we were both just wet… Time to move on, past the Marina with several super yachts moored, to the older part of the Marina where a Spanish galleon was moored. Here we were at Christopher Colombus’ column which is at the bottom of Spain’s most famous street: La Rambla! Even on this grey day, La Rambla was busy with tourists but the terraces remained empty as it was a bit too wet. We rambled along La Rambla, until we came across the St Josep Boqueria. This is a covered food market, a bit like Borough Market in London. La Boqueria is a feast for the senses with beautiful, bright coloured food stalls which all smell amazing. You can find anything here; seafood, spices, cheese, meat, fruit and veg. It would be easy to spend a few hours just exploring this market.
For us, it’s time to move on as we want to pack in a lot in one day, and the Sagrada Família is next, and it’s a bit of a walk so after a quick coffee break, off we go again. The Sagrada Família is Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral. It’s hard to describe but if anything, it is fantastical. The modernist buildings we see all seem like they belong in a fairy tale or fantasy theme park. They are beautiful with all their colour, decorations and unusual shapes. We see Casa Batlló, Casa Lleó Morera, Casa Terrades “Les Punxes”, Casa Calvet and Casa Milà “La Pedrera” to name a few.
By now we have covered a lot of Barcelona, about 20km walked. There is still much more to see, such as Park Guell, a modernist dream, and the cable car and Montjuic Castle, but it will have to wait for another, sunnier day. Luna has had enough, and we’re pretty tired too. So it’s time to head back to Sitges and back to Rex to rest our feet.
We’re both really pleased that we visited this beautiful city and we’re already planning the things we want to do when we visit next.