Barcelona, Spain: It was More Than Expected, and I Loved It!
Barcelona was amazing! It was gorgeous, very walkable, had a few easy methods of transportation with the buses, trains, and the hop on/hop off bus- along with the usual taxis. There are so many restaurants to chose from you will want to eat as many times throughout the day as possible. Barcelona has a ton of things to do to make everyone happy, whether it is museums, shopping, architecture, green spaces, urban life, and more!! I spent three days in Barcelona, but could have spent more.
Barcelona is within the Catalonia region and that region is fighting for its independence. If you haven't researched what is going on, here is a brief explanation of why they are fighting for independence. Much of the fight occurred at the end of 2017 (is still ongoing), and I was there in November and was not scared or worried about being there during some political unrest. Other than some protests you will occasionally see, you wouldn't be able to tell the country is going through serious unrest that divided the country mentally but potentially will divide the country physically. All over the Catalonian region, you will see a few different types of flags. The flags that say "Si" mean yes to democracy. The flag of Spain is red/yellow/red with an emblem. The flag of Catalonia is striped red and yellow. The unofficial flag for Catalonian independence in the red/yellow striped flag with the blue star. You will see a variety of these flags all over the region. If you see a flag of Spain it means those who live there want the region/Barcelona to stay a part of Spain. If you see the unofficial flag for independence, it means those who live there want to have their independence and be a country on their own. Talk to a local Catalonian about what they think and their experiences, it makes for great conversation and an even greater understanding of their country!
I flew into Barcelona with the purpose of taking the AVE which is the fast train, to Madrid to start my vacation. I spent three days in Madrid, three days in Lisbon, and three days in Barcelona. When I flew into the Barcelona airport I would need to find a way to the city center to take the AVE. From the Barcelona airport, there are a few ways you can get to the city center.
1. You can take the terminal shuttle to Terminal 1 which will take about 15 minutes, and from that point, you will take the train RENFE into the Barcelona Sants stop which is the city center. This ride will take you almost an hour and is around 4.10 euros.
2. You can take the metro from inside terminal 1. From the metro, you will take the gray line to Torrassa and from there the orange line to Barcelona Sants which is the city center. This will take about 30 minutes. The trains are nice and clean. Here is a great website about the different trains, costs, where they go, and other random information you might need.
a. At this point you will have decisions to make on the type of pass you will buy. You can buy a T10 ten ride pass for 10.65 euros, you can buy a single ride for 2.10 euros, or if you bought the Barcelona card (which you really should), the card comes with unlimited use of trains and buses the length you have the card. The card can be purchased online and the paper voucher taken to the Barcelona Card desk in the airport for redemption and immediate use.
3. You can take the TMB Airport Bus 46 bus into the city center and it will take a T10 ticket which is 2.10 euros.You can use the bus system, but this will take a little longer and have a few connections
4. Lastly, you can take the Aerobus (Express bus service) to Barcelona City centre from Barcelona Airport and it is 5.90 euros one way.
If you have any other questions about the buses please read the Guide to Barcelona Airport Bus Options to Barcelona City Centre.
Barcelona Sants is the city center where all the transportation methods meet up. Also outside it has a really cool dragon art sculpture that has two slides on it. I don’t know about you but I haven’t been on a slide for a long time. I feel like it was made for grown-ups. However, be aware that one of the slides has a sudden stop and you might bust your butt a little like I did.
Above I mentioned the Barcelona Card (GET THIS CARD). For 3 days I paid $40 US and I probably got my worth out of it in the first day. It allows you to get into the following museums for free, some museums at a discount, and unlimited access to buses, trains, and metros for free. The free transportation is the best part of the card because you would either be paying 2.10 a single trip, or 10.65 euros for 10 trips. The card is also worth it because you don’t have the pay the 3 or 4 euro airport fee when traveling by train to the airport on your way out of Barcelona.
I also got the Hop On Hop Bus Pass for three days not realizing the Barcelona Card would do the same thing. But if you do want to take the bus around to hear about all the interesting things in Barcelona, get off your feet, and more importantly, use the free wifi and power outlets then it is worth it! This bus gave me the chance to tour around Barcelona, check out areas that were a little too far to talk, and get off my feet. I may have used this as a safe space place to take a small nap during the day...
There is a huge variety of museums in Barcelona, and the Barcelona Card allowed me to go to the ones I wouldn't have paid to go into. Here is a list of the attractions you can get into for free or with a great discount:
Centro Comercial Arenas de Barcelona: For some amazing360-degree scenic views of Barcelona go to Centro Comercial Arenas de Barcelona. It is both a mall and scenic lookout, as the top allows you to walk around and get a 360-degree view of Barcelona. It costs a euro to go up in the elevator and is worth it.
Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport Joan A. Samaranch: If you are a lover of the Olympics like I am, then you need to immediately go to Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport Joan A. Samaranch. This place is a literal dream for me. It has all the Olympic torches, Olympic medals, Olympic uniforms, Olympic equipment, and videos of past Olympics that will make you want to sit for hours watching them. It gives you the history and background of the Olympics as well as lets you play some games while you are there.
Museu de la Xocolata or Chocolate Museum: This museum is pretty interesting as it talks about the history of chocolate from the beginning. It is even more interesting as it was free with my Barcelona Card (see what I did there). All of the sculptures you will see are made of chocolate. It is worth a quick tour and they give you a free chocolate bar so it is a win-win situation in my opinion
There are many gorgeous buildings to look at while walking around Barcelona. The architecture is amazing, and worth taking walks to see because when on a bus or in a taxi the buildings just do not get the justice they deserve.
Street Art: If you have read my past blogs you will know I am a lover of street art, and Barcelona had some great art. It isn't as plentiful as other cities I have been in, but I give respect to the artists.
La Boqueria: Let me tell you about this market. La Boqueria is heaven to me. You walk in and you are hit with smells, tastes, urges, wants, and more. You see meat hanging everywhere, cups of fresh juice, candy, seafood, and whatever else you want to eat. This is the best place to get an afternoon snack, lunch, food for the next day's adventures, or just a place to walk around. I had the most amazing chorizo baguette that made me want to smack my momma. I went back the next day for another one. Sandwiches will cost around 3-4 euro, fresh juices cost about 1-2 euro. Do not buy anything at the entrance as it can be double, have some patience and go wander around. You will see the prices going down. Most only take cash so be prepared to have it on you.
I mention food, but in reality, I should just say churros. Churros will be an important part of your diet while in Spain, I believe they are the top, middle, and bottom of the food pyramid. They are delicious by themselves, but even more so when you add hot chocolate to it. Yes, I said hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is thick enough to be used as dipping for the churros, but you are able to drink it. I had churros at least once a day. AT LEAST! There are a ton of lists of the top churro places, but I feel that in this instance you should do your own fieldwork and gather your own data (it's for your own good). But, if you need a list here is one by LadyIronChef.
I was in Barcelona running around for three days and felt like I wasn't there long enough. I could have stayed for longer. It was a great place to visit and definitely one to walk around as much as possible to get the full effect. As a single woman, I felt very safe. As someone who is a person of color I also felt safe and welcomed. I truly believe that Barcelona is great for the single traveler, the traveler of color, the couple, or the family!
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