It definitely took awhile for me to convince Anna to travel internationally with no children but in March 2014, she decided to take the trip. I’ve been to Madrid for work and was told that although it has similar city energy as Barcelona, adding the coastline gives Barcelona an edge and should be visited. I wanted to experience it myself, and why not with my wife.
Just like clockwork, it never seizes to amaze me that before any trip, Anna gets so stressed out which eventually creates disagreements. Those disagreements obviously lead to fighting and a trip destined to promote happiness, usually creates animosity. I finally figured it out that her stress is the fact of using the Nexus card since we have to scan the retina. The automated machine keeps repeating, please step to the left…please step to the right…..please approach the mirror…step to the left. Basically she has no clue as to what to look for despite it clearly indicates to look at the green dot in the visual display. Once the Nexus retina procedure is passed, I can tell her sigh of relief and her demeanor changes instantly. Now she can enjoy the trip.
I’ve done extensive research as to what areas we would like to visit and how we’d get around. Read up on Gaudi and his architecture and his major influence in Spain. I even noted all the right public transportation routes to take in order to save time upon arrival. All fell into place as if I frequented Barcelona many times. A seasoned veteran.
Flight had absolutely no turbulence. Quickly leave the arrival gate area and catch the bus to the Placa Catalunya terminal. Walk the remaining part to the Ramblas street. Get our bearing and check in the Silken Ramblas Hotel. Great little hotel in the center of the action. With no time to lose, we start our walk on the strip towards the ocean. The walk looked as if we’re in a trans. Despite being low season, we were impressed as to the amount of people present. We finally get to port Vell and notice sailboats all lined up. With such a beautiful site we simply take to a park bench and enjoy the scenery.
Being the first day, and a little tired from the journey, we slowly walk through the Gothic Quarter all along the route back to our hotel. The Gothic Quarter has so many little streets and alleyways to wander around. The architecture is phenomenal and each corner we pass seems more exciting that the previous one. We stop for some lunch, rest a little and continue our way to the Barcelona Cathedral.
I know it sounds weird but for supper, we decided to stick with a fine Italian restaurant which was great. From the marinated legumes to the main pasta dish……for a moment I thought we were in Italy. You can spend hours and hours just walking around the Ramblas, and seeing it at night was yet another different experience. So peaceful. We ended the night by going to McDonalds for a coffee which became our signature routine for the remaining 3 days.
Bright and early, quick breakfast and purchase the 48-hour Hop on Hop off pass. What a great idea. Simply take an open roof top bus and travel the city while listening to a prerecorded tape of its history. Disembark the bus where you want and simply get on at the next stop. Great concept. Visited all the basic tourist spots at our own pace. From Casa Mila to Casa Ballto, from Park Guell to the Familia Sagrada…all spectacular. We notice that the waiting line to enter the Sagrada Familia extends all around the building and the wait time would be over 3 hours. We had heard that by purchasing tickets online would cut that time to about 5 minutes. With internet connection at its slowest speed, I quickly email my good friend Elan Ellison to book me 2 tickets from Montreal. Just moments later, I receive an electronic ticket and bingo, wait time is 3 minutes and we’re in. If building design, arches, columns is your thing, then the Sagrada Familia is a must for you. Completely different building style that definitely reflects Gaudi’s personality. Totally breathtaking. The exterior detail coupled with the interior grandiose pillars is a must see. The Gaudi Museum was also very interesting that was free with the entrance of the church. What are the chances of traveling to Barcelona and meeting a co-worker in the city center? Well, that day we end up meeting my very good friend Pili Quijada.
Next stop was the Olympic park which hosted the 1992 Olympics. I remember watching it on television and actually being at the same physical place brought back some nostalgic memories of the 90’s. The grounds were completely deserted. I’d say besides another 5-6 people, only my wife and I were walking the park. From the stadium to the radio tower it painted such a clean picture with the beautiful blue sky as the backdrop.
One can’t visit Barcelona without seeing the beach. March was no swimming weather, but I had to at least feel the water ankle high. It surely was cold but seeing the sun was warming up the sand, I quickly buried them deep to warm them up. We relaxed on the beach for a while until we headed for the W hotel. What an impressive hotel overlooking the ocean. We actually were able to wander around and use their facilities. We stay at their pool area terrace and enjoyed the afternoon.
Last day we decided to go visit the Church of the Sacred Heart on top of Mount Tibidabo. A funicular was taken to the very top which offered a fantastic panoramic view of Barcelona. Clear skies and brisk weather made it perfect.
Barcelona is definitely a place that satisfies every traveler no matter what their preferences are. Definitely make it a travel destination on your bucket list.