Tuesday, 25 April 2017

How To Spend 72 Hours in Barcelona | Solo Travel

I very rarely have trouble sleeping. More often than not, I have trouble staying awake past 11pm. However, one night in January, for reasons I cannot remember, I found myself tossing and turning in to the early hours. With James fast asleep next to me, I picked up my phone, absentmindedly browsing in an attempt to make myself sleepy. I know, I know, phones make insomnia worse, but it was starting to get light outside and my delirious, sleep-deprived mind told me it would work. The fool. Somehow, at some point, I found myself booking a short city-break to Barcelona.

I fell asleep shortly after the confirmation email had fallen in to my inbox.
Barcelona had been on my travel hit list for as long as I can remember so I'm not sure why it took me so long to get round to visiting. I’d fallen in love with Gaudi’s architecture during a GCSE art project (mad thanks to Mrs CT for pointing me in that direction), and I'd always assumed I would love the City just as much. And oh boy, it did not disappoint.

It was also the first holiday I'd taken on my own, so I thought 3 nights / four days would be ample time to chill out and see the sites. I’ll write about my thoughts on the ‘solo travel’ aspect in a separate post, because if I'm honest, I took far too many pictures to fit in to one.

On instagram, I’d put a call out for suggestions and annoyingly, I didn’t get through nearly as much as I wanted to. I concentrated on Gaudi this time but I for sure will be heading back soon, to see the rest. So without further ado, here's how to spend 72 hours in Barcelona (if you like buildings and beaches)...  
Sagrada Família & Casa Batlló
Before jetting off, my niece Chloe, suggested pre-booking tickets for the Gaudi attractions. Upon arrival, I can confirm that the queues were crazy loooong so that was indeed, a good tip. Even if you get lucky and manage to avoid peak times, it makes it so much easier to plan your day out (especially if you are only there for a weekend) having that allocated time-slot to work around. I don’t believe there were any restrictions as to how long you could spend there once you were inside. The tickets weren’t too pricey and most of the money goes back into the restoration of the building, which is quite nice isn’t it.

That said, if you didn’t fancy purchasing tickets for everything, all the architecture looks beyond breathtaking even from the outside. I still can’t get my head around the scale and intricacy of the Sagrada Família, it was phenomenal. From there, I walked to the Casa Batlló (I think it took about 20 minutes?) and got some close-ups stood underneath the ‘skulls’. Obvs. 
L'Aquarium
I’d planned to do a free walking tour the second day, to find out some stuff whilst getting my bearings  but I woke to find it chucking it down outside. I’d stupidly forgot to bring a raincoat so I switched up my plans and headed to the aquarium on the harbour, because I wanted to see some sharks. 

The one mistake I made was forgetting that it was half-term. After a very difficult and tense fifteen minutes of being a nice person, standing back to let all of the excited Under-10s push in front of me so they could look for Nemo, I decided I would reach contentment by pretending that no-one else in the world existed so I could watch the seahorses bobbing about. And I didn’t feel guilty. I mean, c’mon, I didn't once see them stop to read about the varying temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea. The brats.
Markets
I always enjoy a good meander around a flea market when exploring a new European city. The food markets in the City are insane. This particular fair of treasures and trinkets popped up for a day in the square outside between my hotel and the Cathedral. Reminding myself that I had only brought one hand-luggage case with me, I distracted myself taking pictures to avoid any return suitcase conundrums.
Park Güell
I have just typed out a mammoth paragraph about the park only to delete it all because JUST LOOK AT IT. It was even more beautiful and peaceful and magical than I’d imagined it would be. I think I did about five loops of the place before plonking myself down on the tiled serpentine bench to sketch for a little while. Yup, I turned in to one of those. 
The Beach
Let's go to the beach, each, let's go get away. Story-time: I really dislike that song, but what I DIDN’T dislike during my time in Barca was my trip to the beach, (they call me the queen of the segue). 

My hotel was very close to the Catedral de Barcelona, so I took a slow walk down to harbour, stopping in to few independent shops en route. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely beautiful that day and the only thing I had to worry about was whether to stop at the churro bar or the gelato stand. Cheers for the heads up on this one Jamie C! 

Like I said, I still have a list as long as my arm of things I want to see and do in this City and I am hoping I may be able to squeeze in another trip before the end of the year. If you have any other recommendations (particularly for good vegetarian food) leave a comment below.

Similarly, if you have any questions about solo-travel, I’ll be talking more about my (albeit small) experience of it in the next post and hopefully try and answer all the questions I was asked (mostly "WHY?") as well as the questions I had beforehand (mostly "HOW?"). 

See ya then.

Much love,
L xo
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