After many many months of having no online blogging presence (and a lot of comments from my friends and family about how I should “write more”) I thought I’d start again with a post about my recent trip to Barcelona. I say “recent” – it’s been two weeks since I got back and writing this has been slow progress, bare with me i’ll get back into the swing of things soon. I’ve been to lots of the islands around Spain but Barcelona had always been first on my list to visit on the mainland and I’m not sure why… possibly from the poster of the Sagrada Familia that my grandparents used to have on the wall in their spare room or maybe just because of the generally stunning architecture, culture and of course, weather. To make this as comprehensible as it can be I’ve written about each site we went to as well as writing a little bit about the hotel, because quite frankly it was gorgeous.
Actually I’ll start with the hotel since that was our first stop. Silken Diagonal Hotel, incidentally it was on Avenue Diagonal, which is actually one of the main roads in Barcelona (we didn’t quite appreciate this until our last day) and was situated next to Torre Agbar, a skyscraper that marks the “gateway to the technological district” – thanks to Wikipedia for that information. It was a pretty cool building though, it light up at night so it wasn’t an eyesore; I’ll insert a photo below. We realised pretty soon after arriving at the hotel that we must have secured a good deal with Expedia as the price we paid was much less than the hotel deserved; shout-out to Alan on reception for being so friendly and helpful. Seriously though, the rooms were incredible although perhaps a little more suited to couples than friends as there was only glass separating the bathroom from the bedroom but we managed to sort out a lighting system (electronic window blinds up works best, just in case you’re thinking of going!). A mini bar, room service and the cleaning service were all great, the cleaners could have been a little quieter in the mornings but that would be my only complaint.
The hotel also had a foyer bar, restaurant, roof top bar and pool and although perhaps not an actual feature but the coolest lifts ever. There’s a video on their Facebook page about them so I can’t be the only one that was amazed. The roof top pool was very small and apparently very cold, admittedly I didn’t try it but the yelps of others kept me informed, but the roof top bar was great although a little expensive (as is the rest of Barcelona for drinks). I think the most impressive thing about the roof was of course the view which kinda goes without saying. You could walk round the top of the hotel 360° and look out at the whole of the city, including the Sagrada Familia which I got a little too excited about but I mean come on, I could see it from my hotel – how cool?!
The location of the hotel was perfect, only a short bus or metro ride to the centre yet it was about 20 minutes walking distance from the beach and across the road from a shopping centre, Plaça de les Glories, which had the most amazing food court you could imagine, anything from octopus to waffles to ice cream.
Here’s the link to the hotel www.hoteles-silken.com/en/destinations/barcelona/
Our first ‘tourist attraction’ would probably have been the shopping centre opposite the hotel had we known what it was but since we didn’t we caught the bus (super easy and super cheap) from outside our hotel which took us directly to Park Guell – the home of most of Gaudi’s architecture. The actual park requires a €15 ticket which may or may not have an allotted time slot depending how busy it is at the time. If you have to wait for a select time like we did there’s the rest of the park that you can wander round and its beautiful; lots of winding paths and stunning views out across the city as far as the ocean. Musicians were dotted along the pathways, taking shelter in the shade where little audiences would gather – all were incredibly talented and given very little persuasion I would have purchased a CD from each of them (those of you that follow me on snapchat or Instagram might have seen 10 seconds of Spanish guitar). After a quick pit stop lunch at the very busy baguette stall, more like a hole in the wall… quite literally, we made our way round to wait for our time in the park. I took this inconvenient time to feel faint – so much so that I couldn’t see and had to sit on the gravel, so refined. Becky was being nurse “Sophie sit on the floor and drink this” she said handing me a bottle of water and walking off to the (most likely illegal) water bottle seller, and bought an ice cold one; “put this on your wrist, it’ll cool you down”. I took a few minutes and stood up, thinking I was fine. I wasn’t. Back onto the sandy floor I went. After a little while longer we made our way to a shady area where I perched on a rock and Becky kept a beady eye on me. Two street artists thought this would be the appropriate time to chat to us – I’m not looking my best it had to be said – hot and sweaty and faint is not my usual brand but here we were. After a somewhat awkward (on my part) conversation about how I was like “ a classic painting” or “Cleopatra” and could they both have my contact details (which I politely declined), I gave Becky ‘the eye’ and we made our way to the park entrance. The rest of the day wasn’t quite as eventful but did include relaxing by the pool on the roof of our hotel before our night out – it’s a hard life.
Now the club we were originally planning on going to was Opium however to cut a long story short we decided against it and found a place where it was €20 for as many drinks as you wanted and then free entry and queue jumping to either Shoko or Pacha – we tried out both but Pacha was empty (that’s not an exaggeration, there must have been about 20 people in there…). Shoko however was another story; I could have stayed there forever. Two rooms, one inside which had the mainstream pop/chart/club tunes and one outside, a step away from the beach with no roof and still great songs slightly more “indie” but even I knew 80% of them so still great for dancing and singing along to. Clubs don’t open until 1am which leaves plenty of time for partying into the night (well, morning). *inserts mandatory selfie*
The following day was a busy very chilled – proper holiday style. We woke up late and order room service BECAUSE WE COULD and it was such a goddamn novelty and spent the morning watching Spanish/German TV – whichever we could understand the most of because surprisingly there was only one English speaking channel which included world news and stock market figures which wasn’t quite the mood we were going for. After a 20 minute walk to the beach we set up residence on some FREE (I’m still shocked) sun loungers and spent the afternoon basking in the sun. We ventured into the ocean although it was only our ankles that felt the water as the water was pretty cold being the first few days of June. A Spanish child decided it would be hilarious to splash us though. Not funny. After Becky got a little too angry at the splash culprit we went for an afternoon snack at a little beach-side café, which didn’t tell us they couldn’t serve cooked food until we’d ordered drinks. We opted for toasties and then swiftly left for the tram back to the hotel for another quick blast of sun on the roof terrace before ordering more room service – which were incidentally the best burgers we’ve ever eaten. I took a photo but it didn’t do it justice. That night was chilled as I had a tight schedule planned for the last day.
The Sagrada Familia was first on the list for our final day. I was excited as I’d seen so many photos, I mean who hasn’t, but wow – that building is impressive and probably the most impressive one I’ve seen to date. It’s hard to describe such a place to someone who hasn’t been but if you’re in Barcelona and haven’t visited before it’s definitely worth a visit. Its €15 to go inside but I’d say totally worth it if you’re up for gorgeous stained glass windows, architecture and a glimpse of Gaudi’s resting place. I’ll let some photos show you how amazing it was as I don’t have enough words.
I suggested finding some of Gaudi’s other architectural works and so we set off on many metro rides to find the houses that had been noted on our trusty city map. We found them all which was pretty cool but once again we also found a café that didn’t serve food. They did however have a sink that Becky washed her feet in. That’s my girl! We eventually made our way to La Rambla which was really cool and I wish we could have spent a little more time exploring but we needed food pretty desperately and so we found a restaurant with food – who knew?! I had the most amazing prawn fajitas and a piña colada and once we’d eaten and rested we high-tailed it back to the hotel to collect our suitcases and take the metro to the airport. Or so we thought. We made it to the train station and then retraced our steps through the underground and back up to the station about three times, each time more confused than the last at where signs for the airport had gone. I think helping a woman carry a pram up a flight of stairs made me lose concentration and for a minute I thought we were lost. Turns out we weren’t and we actually had to get a train to the airport which was fine and worked out pretty well and even saw the sunset on the way, which if you’ve been reading for a while/know me well, you know that pretty much made my day. By the time we reached our departure gate we were tired, if not a bit sunburnt and after waiting for an extra 30 minutes in the queue and being told to put my handbag in my suitcase by an extra stroppy staff member – which by the way there was no chance of happening, was she kidding me? – we were ready to be on our way home.
If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest visiting Barcelona, I’m so glad I can tick if off my list. The transport is cheap but so easy and reliable to use and the food is obviously amazing; I ate more paella than I should have (which was the best) however I won’t leave prawn de-shelling to Becky again, half of it ended up being flung on the floor although admittedly it did make me cry-laugh so it was worth the loss of the prawn. The people are so friendly and helpful with undeniably impressive English but if you want a city break that includes sun, culture, beaches and alcohol that isn’t measured – Barcelona may be just the place.