I'm not sure how often I'll get to post on here during my trip but, after so much helpful advice from Fodorits, I wanted to at least say I have arrived and, well, WOW!!
Yeah, no revolutionary statement there, I know, but hey - it's my wow and I've never been able to say it before because not only have I never been to Barcelona, or Spain for that matter, but I've never been to Europe before now.
I'm from Australia so it's not a revolutionary statement either to announce that the plane trip was long ... But it sure felt longer than when I went to Canada, although the this one was only 22 hours, while the Canadian journey was over 24.
Anyway, after a long trip leaving Friday night Australian time, via only a rushed 20 minutes in Singapore, we finally landed in Barcelona at 8am Saturday. Quickest customs and baggage collection I've experienced and we were quickly in a taxi on our way to our apartment in l'eixample area. By now I was hot, sweaty and tired, so when we had to wait an hour for our host to arrive just to store our bags til 2pm I was getting grumpy but quickly found a lovely cafe where they were very kind and let me change into my skirt and top.
Our bags stored we headed to Carrer d'Enric Granados, where we'd been advised had good coffee, by an Australian gentleman on the flight who was married to a Spanish lady and was meeting her back in her home town. Coffee was OK. After feeling like I'd been eating for 24 hours on the plane, I wasn't hungry just yet - also the climate and time zone is so different my stomach is still adjusting!
We then wandered up Avignuda Diagonal and onto Passeig de Gracia - OMG we are really here! It was an amazing feeling. We wandered in and out of shops and just relished being in the heart and buzz of a Barcelona weekend. We sorted our phones, then found ourselves in Placa de Catalunya and onto La Ramblas, and then into the Mercat de la Boqueira. OK so I have to use that word again - WOW! And yes I had to use it in capital letters. The fruits!! The tapas bars!! The meats!! The seafood!! The vegetables!! The people!! In case you're not sure, I love it. We purchased ourselves some fruit and then headed back to the apartment as it was ready to check in and out third friend's flight had arrived.
Check in done, it was time for some tapas. We were incredibly early by Spanish standards 5.30pm, but luckily enough for us, that had that had been recommended (Flauta in l'eixample) was open and occupied by other keen diners and drinkers. A wine in hand, some prawns watering my mouth and I felt like I had arrived in heaven.
We stayed on for a couple of hours, drinking some more, eating some more (the feta was unlike anything I have had at home; the vegetables so fresh; sardines so amazing I actually liked them (I don't usually) and the prawns were amazing. And the vino went down pretty well too.
Onto another tapas bar for some more vino and vodka and by then my body clock was hitting the alarm buzzer. It was approximately 6am Sunday morning Australian time and I had had five hour sleep since Friday morning, Australian time, so if I was going to get through the rest of the trip it was time for bed!
I fell into unconsciousness the moment my head hit the pillow around 10.30pm and didn't open them again until 6am. I felt victorious; I was now on Spain time!
So, after easing into the morning, I got up and into my running shoes, out the door just after 7am. I admit I was a little hesitant about this. I love to run and I love to see other places as I run. But not knowing the city, but knowing it was warm (24 deg already compared to my winter at home), could be busy and I could easily get lost, I was a little daunted. But I told myself the only way to overcome any concerns I had was to just get out there and do it. And so I did. I planned to run to Parc de Ciutadella- thanks to some Fodor advice - via the Arc de Triomf - but when I got to the Arc, my eyes were so in love with what they were seeing that I had to keep going. My planned 6km journey expands to 11km, as I made my way to the beach and back. I did feel a little ill as my stomach adjusted to the warm weather run at a strange time of the day (compared to the Australian time zone), but I didn't want to stop. I ventured through the Parc de Ciutadella on the way home, found some presumable backpackers camping out, some homeless person people whose beds were benches (saw lots of these through my wanderings, like most cities) and some early morning table tennis players. The parc is beautiful! I hope to return in the morning, perhaps for a walk around the perimeter this time.
Eventually home it was time to shower before brunch. We found the most delightful cafe, where our wait was 10 minutes but I read online it can be up to an hour for lunch. Brunch & Cake in l'eixample is its name and I - among many others - highly recommend it. The coffee was amazing!! As good as Melbourne's. I still wasn't hungry after my warm weather run but the menu looked so good and I knew I needed food so I ordered avocado toast with a side of fruit sales and granola. I couldn't get through it all because the avocado (with lemon and feta was so rich) but it was mouth watering. My friends had a bacon bagel with eggs benedict and a waffle with eggs benedict respectively.
Time for some shopping in the mall off Placa de Catalunya (I haven't bought anything yet but plan to go back on our last day - Tuesday), but first watched the amazing cavalcade of motorcycles roar their way through the Dreta de l'eixample - apparently it was to honour the war. Does anyone know mor about this??
Then it was onto Montjuic. Again WOW! We toured through the Castell and gazed over the views. We walked down a bit and I wanted to see the national gallery but we got ourselves a little lost and because one friend was feeling unwell and the other wanted to go home, we got into a cab and they went home while I got them to drop me a Placa d'Espanya.
Enjoying being on my own for a bit, I wandered around, through the shopping centre and up to its rooftop view, before getting the metro back to la Boqueira only to find it closed. Should have checked but oh well. I then wandered back through la Ramblas and to a tapas bar my friends had picked out. Some vino later, I left them there and have headed back to the apartment.
And to this trip report ...
My friends are now back so I best shower before it is time to head to dinner at Teresa Carles.
I will pick this thread back up soon I hope.
Adios until then. I will try to give trip reports as regularly as I can. Tomorrow we are off to Sagrada la Familia and then Parc Guell.
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