From all reports, the summer of 2018 had been a red-hot one over in the good old UK. However, being the old cynic that I am, I fully expected that after three successive months of thirty degree days, my arrival on 4th August would coincide with the final few days of such conditions before the country returned to its summer norm of eighteen degree temperatures and perennial drizzle.
Thankfully, I had already addressed this likely scenario by booking a flight to Barcelona, through the amusingly titled ‘El Prat’ airport for city break and five days of sunshine.
After ten days in the UK which were predominantly spent waiting for trains that had been delayed, politely queuing for things and sitting on the phone on hold to various companies who had ballsed up a variety of simple requests, I was looking forward to booting the bureaucracy and hitting the road again to see what Barcelona had to offer.
Below are some of the highlights and lowlights.
- La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia (Translated to ‘The Holy Family’) is arguably Gaudi’s most impressive work and the jewel in the crown of Catalonian tourism. The church is in the process of being built and is likely to remain so for the next twenty or thirty years at least but there was still plenty of cool looking carvings around of the nativity and other religious figures, created in Gaudi’s trademark unusual architectural style.
- Camp Nou Stadium Tour
As a West Bromwich Albion season ticket holder for fifteen years I’m not easily impressed by football stadiums, but have to concede that the Camp Nou, home of Barcelona F.C. may be marginally more impressive than my native Hawthorns, the home of the mighty Baggies.
The tour included views of the pitch, the away dressing rooms, press rooms, media boxes, and a museum where all the trophies are stored and a shrine to Lionel Messi can be found. It took us a couple of hours to get around so well worth the money for only 25 euros!
- Food & Drink
The Spanish are known for their love of both Tapas and Sangria, and there were plenty of cool little restaurants and bars which stock plenty of both. A personal favourite was the trip to Mercat de la Boqueria, a huge food market which was selling plenty of fresh fish, cured meat, and cheese. Amazing.
I could get used to the Sangria and red wine as well which were both fantastic; I think my brother had a jug with virtually every meal!
- Las Ramblas
In truth there wasn’t much that I disliked about Barcelona but I really didn’t get the hype around Las Ramblas. It’s a pretty iconic road that runs for a couple of miles through the centre of town but I really didn’t get what the fuss was about; it was packed full of tourists and lined with beggars, dodgy street sellers and overpriced tourist-trap cafes.
It also happens to be the pickpocketing capital of Europe; although thankfully my years of experience of living in Walsall has taught me to always be on guard for someone who looks like they are about to mug me so we all comfortably emerged from the end of Las Rambles unscathed.
Overall, we had a great time in Barcelona. It’s a pretty easy city to get around on foot as a lot of places are quite close together, but the metro services things quite well for the times we were feeling lazy.
It was also good fun to travel with my brother and his friend Ben; both are fantastic guys and are good fun to travel with, which helped to make it an excellent break.