We landed wonderfully early in Barcelona and felt pretty fresh after that Business Class experience. Amongst all of the hola’s and bienvenidos and in our adventurous state of mind, we decided that real travellers don’t throw money at taxis, they catch buses. The driver of the city bound A1 dumped us somewhere, and without our compass or the North star for navigation we faced a serious wifi-less first world dilemma.
We couldn’t determine our orientation as we approached a 6 exit roundabout, so we made an executive decision, having hauled our 4 cases a good kilometre in the early morning sun, to hail down a taxi. We figured that we are no longer in the age bracket of ‘traveller’ and were not to make poor decisions based on said wild thoughts again. We soon found ourselves right outside B&B Azul in the old Eixample District.
B&B Azul is discreet, to the point where there isn’t a single sign suggesting you’ve arrived. There’s just a ginormous 19th Century wooden door with a 9 button buzzer beside it that displays 0 information. Luis in all of his efficient logic said to wait for him to turn his data on and get the contact details for the B&B, Chloe and her ADD said press all the buttons. So I pressed all the buttons and miraculously a lady who has as much English as we do Spanish met us at the entrance. She smiled and helped us drag our cases up the rickety staircase to the 3rd floor in the dark. When she opened the door, it was as though we had entered a Spanish magazine for rustic interior decor and it was all lit up by the sun beaming off the terracotta tiles and blue tables in the courtyard. Perfect!
It’s amazing what conversations can be had with mere smiles and pointing. We managed to find out that there were Germans asleep in our room, and that we could leave our cases and come back later when it wasn’t 7am. I was a little bit tired, but excited to get out and about nonetheless, and could feel hunger striking.
6″4 Luis, however, insisted on having a ‘quick’ wash in the tiny, shoe-box cupboard of a toilet, which meant using every morsel of his strength not to fall out of the toilet naked by accidentally, for example, elbowing the door with his massive arms or kneeing it with his long legs. Therefore, he’d really taken his time, and I had been waiting for about 20 minutes by the time an even sweatier than before Luis emerged and I had depleted to a state of hanger. This is a before and after moment captured by Luis taming the hungry and caffeine-less beast when we found espressos for €1 at a typical Spanish cafe bar just down the road:
To avoid boring you with the romantic holiday particulars, I have compiled a picture gallery of top things for you to see along with quotes and facts to help you and your Barcelona plans.
Mercat de la Boqueria | Free | “yes it’s great, and no I don’t want to sit here and eat, how can you be hungry, you only just had breakfast” – Luis
La Rambla and Barri Gotic | Free | “La Rambla takes its name from a seasonal stream that once ran here…from the early Middle Ages on, it was better known as the Cagalell (Stream of Shit)” ‘ Lonely Planet
Transbordador Aeri del Port | €11 | “Not worth the 2 hour long queue, or the €11 ” – Luis “That’s a bit harsh” – Chloe
The cable car plunges off the run way and I could only see death on the horizon, but once you’re in full swing it’s not so bad. A beautiful hill (or if you’re from Norfolk you might mistake it for a mountain) called Montjuïc welcomes you with a restaurant called Miramar where you can reward yourself with a beer and panoramic city views. I don’t have a photo, so you can get the gist of the view from my marvellous sketch, inspired by John Ruskin’s mindfulness technique on his European travels, here:
We caught a taxi back from Montjuïc and decided a revitalising 7pm nap before dinner would be perfect. We woke up from our nap around 4am, quite surprised, and agreed that we’d definitely missed the dinner window. So I crept down the mosaic hallway and made us a Nespresso in the most delicate of cups, and we sat in bed as the sun came up for day 2. Our wooden doors opened on to a Juliet balcony, and as the sun came up around 6am the leaves dappled through the sunshine on to the white walls; it was ultimate hygge happiness.
This idyllic light is not a coincidence, but something 19th Century architect Ildefons Cerda intentionally designed when dreaming up Eixample. He wanted a town where sunlight, transport, traffic, and ventilation could live side by side. His designs, entwined with the odd grandeur of Gaudi’s in this District, make for a fascinating tour of Barcelona’s architectural history (if you’re interested).
Day 2 in Pictures
Breakfast | Included | “well isn’t this lovely” – Chloe “Can you stop saying that everything is lovely” – Luis
Bus Turistic | €28 | “The most fun I’ve had in ages. What do the wheels on the bus do, Chloe?” – Luis
Park Guilla |Free| “I’m not standing in another queue for 2 hours to pay to see some monuments, let’s just walk around the park for free” – Chloe
La Sigrida Familia |€15 | “Did you see Gaudi’s grave? Gaudi, the Gaudi, is underneath there” – Chloe “Yes, Chloe, I was with you the whole time” – Luis
Finally, for the end of our second day in Barcelona, we made it passed 7pm and dressed up to venture out for tapas and Flamenco, which upon reflection as I sit here in Auckland was the best Flamenco I saw out of all the shows that I watched around Spain. As a sufferer from a lack of emotion, this show helped me find feelings I forgot that I had as I held back those tears you get when a live performance sounds that good. It reminded me that feelings are ok.
Palacio del Flamenco |€35| “The show starts at 22:30 – wild” – Luis
The next morning, my chauffeur picked me up after going to the airport to source us a fun ride for the next 2,500kms we were to cover around France, Portugal and Spain. We left Barcelona listening to the Frida soundtrack and headed straight for the Pyranees where we would end up at the Chateaux de Cavanac, which was not dissimilar to Dracula’s castle and was definitely home to the ghost of a past Count or two.