Having read so many articles online about peoples trips to Barcelona I thought I’d add mine to the mix. It might not impress some people, but what it will be is an honest account of the trip we took.
We arrived at Leeds Bradford Airport on a cold and typically British late autumn morning (cold and overcast). The welcome we received from the Jet2 ground staff was nothing but warm and welcoming. As I have come to expect from Jet2 at all but the busiest times, there was hardly a queue for check in.
Security was completed and we headed for the Premier Lounge. Now I have to say that for £20 I don’t think you could get more. Everything but the premium wines were available. The lounge itself was warm and quiet with nice music playing in the background.
Boarding shortly followed which was also made much nicer by the fact that LBA has built a wonderful new covered walkway to the aircraft. As I said it was a little windy and the walkway kept the worst away from us.
Our flight was good and before we knew it we had landed in Barcelona where the temperature was a lovely 20 degrees! Bags were on the belt before we got there and then it was straight onto the Aerobus (9.95 Euros return) for the 30 min drive into town.
The Aerobus drops you off in Plaça Catalunya which is centrally placed to go pretty much anywhere in the city. We made the short (10min) walk up the road to our Hotel Claris Barcelona which is a fabulous 5 Star hotel. Check in was easy and they gave us a vouch for 2 glasses of Cava either in the bar or (In Summer) on the roof terrace.
The rest of day 1 was spend doing a little walking but mainly spent settling in to this lovely city.
Day 2 started with a wonderful continental breakfast in the hotel. There was a fine selection of pastries, meats, cheeses and warm items as well as made to order items such as pancakes and tortilla.
Then the real fun started. A 20 minute walk from the hotel is the Sagrada Família which is nothing short of awesome. It’s basically a cathedral that Gaudi designed and started building over 100 years ago and it still isn’t finished. It cost us 16.50 Euros each and that allowed entry into the building as well as access to one of the towers. Now I’m not the best with heights but I do suggest you do take the 85 meter trip up to see the views!!
From there we walked back down towards La Rambla, which is extremely busy but amazing to walk down. Here is a side of Barcelona that id didn’t like. You will see about halfway down that there are a number of open air restaurants. They all have signs up advertising Tapas and either Pizza, Pasta or Paella for around 9 Euros. The food is good but there is something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We asked for two beers with the food. Nothing wrong with that other than they then bring you basically a 2.5 pint glass and proceed to charge you 11 Euros per drink. So your cheap and cheerful lunch has now cost you over 40 Euros. The soft drinks also come in these glasses so be warned.
The other thing to look out for on La Rambla are the Romanians. They basically play a game similar to the ball and cup trick with matchboxes. Now it looks like they are betting with random people, but when you watch them for a while you realise it’s a con. There is actually around 6 or seven of them who work together to con 1 or 2 tourists by betting which box the coin is under. Don’t get involved with these people because not only will you not win, you are at risk of being pick pocketed. I was also advised by one local that the latest trick is to cut your bag open with a Stanley knife and steal your belongings!
At the bottom of La Rambla, past the Columbus monument is a shopping centre in the harbour called MareMagnum. It doesn’t have the most shops in the world but it does have some nice restaurants, cinema and (the best thing for me) open seating looking into the harbour. There are plenty of police down there too so you do feel nice and safe.
We seemed to walk for miles that day and we did see an awful lot but generally it was much of the same. Just be careful at night going off the beaten track because the back streets are quiet and dark. I’m not saying anything will happen but you are much more likely to have problems around there than in public places.
Walking back up to the hotel we stopped at a restaurant called Divinus. You can eat outside in the terrace where the temperatures are OK if you wear a light fleece. The food is OK but the appeal for us was a nice bottle of wine and a bit of people watching. Be warned though, they do charge a 15% supplement to eat outside which is never mentioned unless you notice the very small print in the menu.
Day 3 was not so great with the weather. It had rained most of the night leaving a pretty fresh morning. This was the day we did the bus tour. There are two tours in Barcelona. There is the official and the unofficial ones. The unofficial cut their routes a lot in winter so we decided to go with the Barcelona Tourist Official Tour. It cost us 24 Euro each but what you need to remember is that whilst it may seem quite expensive, you see an awful lot of the city, it has audio to listen to and you can get on and off as often as you like. We pretty much saw the whole city in one day so I would definitely recommend it.
We did both route before getting off in the Gothic area of the city, before making our way slowly back to La Rambla and back to the hotel.
After another wonderful breakfast we checked out of the hotel and stored our bags. We then once again took a walk down La Rambla, stopping in the market about half way down. This market puts every other market I have ever been too to shame. The food looked stunning, fresh fish, meats, cheeses and fruit all looked amazing! We made our way back down to the harbour where there was an international rowing race on, so we sat in the sun (22 degrees) and chilled out.
Before long it was time to head back to the hotel to collect our bags and get the bus back to the airport. Check in and security was easy enough but the rest of the airport felt deserted. The boarding gate area for our flight only had our flight in it. The cafe staff weren’t the most friendly, and weren’t particularly impressed at my only buying a bottle of water!
Back onto the aircraft where we landed back in LBA where it was 2 degrees! Although a quick bus ride followed and once again the bags were on the belt before we arrived! The thing I love about LBA is that we landed at 2000 and we were in the car on our way home by 2020! Now that’s fast for an airport.
Would I go to Barcelona again? Well maybe, but I don’t like the way tourists seem to be ripped off. Maybe in their eyes they’re not and maybe it’s just me being a tight Yorkshireman. Either was it was a lovely break, with lovely weather and lovely company. So yes, I probably would go again and I would definitely recommend it!!