I’m certain that this is my favorite international destination thus far.
Just a short skip across the pond from Philly, we arrived at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. Jeremy and I cleared customs and walked out to bus transportation. It only cost 5,50 euros per person to take the bus from the airport to Plaza de Catalunya (city center). From the plaza, we walked to our Airbnb. The host was at work but the cleaning lady let us in. We got in so early that we were able to take a nap before setting out for the day.
I find that the best thing to do on the first day of any trip is to explore your surroundings and make a plan for the rest of the trip. Jeremy was a little more jet lagged than I was so I let him rest and I went out to explore. I bought some groceries for our stay (hydration is SO important), found a pastry shop for a snack, and figured out how to use the metro (and it’s location from our Airbnb).
(Side Bar: Let me just rave about the metro in Barcelona for a second. It is a tourist’s DREAM. The metro will take you just about anywhere in the city. I can’t remember the cost of a single ride because Jeremy and I ended up buying a 10-pass card and it only cost 9,95 euro. That’s less than a euro per ride AND unlike the (awful) DC metro, you don’t have to put money on your card for how far you go. So for each ride you can just go one stop or you can go multiple stops. People find this less amazing than I do BUT I appreciate cheap transportation (especially if your on a budget, like me). I posted the map below so you can save the image to your phone. It is a great tool to use without having to be connected to wifi/use cellular service.)
Let’s see…there is SO much to do in Barcelona. If you plan on making a trip, message me or email me for a full list of things to do. In this post, I’m going to share some of the highlights of our trip.
Jeremy and I are huge soccer fans so it was only fitting that we see a Barcelona game at Camp Nou (F.C. Barcelona’s home turf). We were really worried that we might not be able to see them play since we weren’t there on a weekend but luckily, there was a game. And not just any game, a Champion’s League game. We were ecstatic. We bought our tickets the sunday before the Tuesday night game. Camp Nou does a great job of making sure every seat is full because they have a system for season ticket holders to release their tickets for a game they aren’t going to. So tourists (like us) can go on the website, buy last-minute tickets, and the season ticket holders get a portion of our purchase.
(Side Bar: F.C. Barcelona has their own museum called Museu del Futbol Club Barcelona. You can see trophies and learn about the team. We were planning on doing this but the museum closes early on game days.)
How to get to Camp Nou: Getting to the game was so easy. We just hopped on the metro in the general direction of the stadium and as we got closer, more and more fans in Barcelona attire started to get on the metro. Then we just followed all the fans straight to the stadium. For directional purpose: take the blue line (L5 Cornelia) to Collblanc station then walk north-east to the stadium (10 minute walk).
The Experience: Being in a stadium with 90,000 Barcelona fans is unlike any other. Fans are decked out from head to toe in various Barcelona jerseys. They know all chants and they pay attention to every single second of the game. The only time I saw people’s phones out was during halftime that’s how in tune people were to this game. And it was a blow out. Barcelona played F.C. Celtic. Final Score: 7-0, Barcelona. Messi was only a few hundred feet in front of me (I’ll be telling my grandkids about that).
“Més que un club”
Fat Tire Bike Tours (FTBT) is probably the best way to tour the city. Sure, you could hop on one of those tour buses that drives you around and you see all the sites but where is the interaction, where is your sense of adventure?? Anyway, for 24 euros, FTBT will provide a bike and a tour of Barcelona. This is a great introduction to the city of Barcelona. They stop at plenty of sites like Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Barcelona, the Arc de Triomf (not to be confused with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris), Cascada Monumental, and they take you down to the beach for a seaside lunch. It was wonderful, plus we got to meet other American/English-speaking tourists who gave us tips on what to see. There was this really sweet family on our tour who came down from Milan. Jeremy and I were talking about soccer with them and little did we know that their son was a bigger soccer fan then we were. He talked Jeremy’s ear off from lunch all the way to the end of the tour. It was so cute (slightly comical because I’ve never met anyone who’s known more about soccer than Jeremy).
Situated atop Barcelona is the beautiful landscape of Parc Guell. Once home to famous architect Antoni Gaudi, this park offers intimate insight to his life and great views of Barcelona.
How to get to Parc Guell: Getting to one of the highest points in Barcelona is no easy feat. Jeremy and I took the L4 Roquetes to Alfons X station, this part only took about 15 minutes. Once off the metro, we walked north west towards Parc Guell. This was the longest part of our trip (about 30 minutes) because it slowly got steeper the farther we walked. Two alternative routes: take L3 Montbau to Vallarca and walk east or take a taxi from the station.
The Experience: There are two parts to Parc Guell: the monumental precinct and the free zone. The monumental precinct costs seven euros, which you can buy ahead of time online or at the park. During tourism season, the precinct sells out so I suggest buying them ahead of time. The precinct includes the dragon stairway, the hypostyle room, the greek theater or nature square, and more. The precinct hourly slots were sold out when Jeremy and I got there. We were a little bummed out but we were still able to walk around the free zones. Next time we visit, I’ll be sure to bring a picnic because after all the walking, all I wanted to do was sit down and eat a snack. Plus, it’s a great place to have a peaceful lunch. Parc Guell was the last thing we did on our trip to Barcelona and I think it was the best decision we made.
There were still plenty of things we saw that I wasn’t able to touch on and still plenty of things we still want to see. Next time we go, I want to see Castle de Montjuic, Font Majica de Montjuic, Montserrat, Casa Batllo and more. That’s the great thing about Barcelona, there is always so much more to see. And with a combination of history and culture mixed into what to see and do, it is a perfect vacation for people of all ages. I highly recommend going to Barcelona. I know this is first of many trips I will be making to Barcelona. Cheers!