Yo amo Espana: Barcelona Travelogue

Tripoto
3rd Jun 2018
Day 1

Day 1 _Mumbai to Barcelona via Istanbul

So it was 3rd June, the day of my flight and hence it began quiet early. IF you are the window seat seaker , you might have an idea about how early I mean. The gates for my flight open at 2am, and so I was almost the fifth person in line to claim my seat. So, I boarded the 6.30 am flight to Istanbul and landed by around 11 am local time.

You can feel the breath of fresh air this city has to offer, as soon as you walk down your aircraft. Istanbul airport has fairly good duty free market, and so looking through it, time passed quiet quickly. My connecting flight took off at around 3.30pm and landed by approx. 6pm local time, even when the sky was full of roaring black clouds.

Spanish rains welcomed us along with its cold and chilled breeze. It was my first rains on a foreign land. The ride from El Prat Airport Barcelona to our Dinner restaurant was an hour long. We quickly got though the immigration, checked out luggage and loaded into our drive for the day, a huge ac coach.

The drive was through the city but off course we were too tired to look around, instead we were just waiting to reach the restaurant. We stopped at the Spanish local restaurant famous for its Tapas. Well, a note here for all Vegetarians travelling abroad, nothing but food makes you realize how good is India and how much do you love it for the sumptuous variety of vegetarian food we get here. My dinner for the night was a plate of Tapas, which are basically close to our Aalu tikki as starters and a plate of 5 pieces of tomatoes garnished with different types of cheese as main course. (like literally tamatar ). After dinner and the sun being still up at 9pm, we started to go to our Hotel. And, when we reached I could not help but be amazed of how natural and beautiful was our place.

Hotel SB Events was gonna be our home was next few days. Its in the Castadeffels region of Barcelona roughly 30 min drive from the airport. SO, as the sun set and evening darkened out, our day 1 too ended along with it.

Day 2

Day 2: Montserrat-Camp Nou-La Sagrada Familia-Las Ramblas

Starting you day with a delicious English breakfast is a luxury that doesn’t comes handy everyday. 5 types of bread, 5 types of cheese, juices, honey, fruits, pancakes, and cheesecakes… like WOW, it made me forget last night’s tamatars. So our first spot was going to be Montserrat hills and church. While I was researching for Barcelona, I did see the pictures of this place, but believe me, they do no justice to how absolutely beautiful this place is.

It was a 1 hour 20 min drive from our hotel. So to reach these hills, you actually have to pass them by road. It looks unlike any other hills you have ever seen. "Montserrat" literally means "saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain" in Catalan. It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations which are visible from a great distance. They look they would have been carved out of a giant rock and someone very carefully placed them in a valley. By the way, these hills are situated in the Catalunya district of Barcelona and is quite alienated from the city. One must take a guided tour or have a local along if you are driving separately this far. Sant Jerony Monastery lies at the foot of the hill. The peak of the hill is 300m above the Monastery which you can reach either by tram or walk up. When we arrived here it was Foggy we could hardly see a foot across, but then slowly the sun came up and we could easily see the beauty that dawned over the surreal Montserrat.

BY Noon, our coach rode us back into the city for lunch. We had some nice warm Pasta and tapas for lunch at Mussol and hoped back into the coaches.

Riding through the city, we can see how well its architecture is. And why not, Antonio Gaudi had some of his master pieces designed here two centuries back. Well, also if you have been to Paris, you will feel similarly that they have constructed there cities so well, keeping in mind the beauty of it. Now, it was time for the Camp Nou tour, where we reached by 2.30pm.

Taking this tour is a dream for most of the football club fans especially Barca Fans. There is a 20euro entry fees for this tour. This tour is divided into two parts, first is the museum and second is the ground. In the Museum you can see the clubs history, its winning trophies, jerseys worn by the best players of the club and there are some photo booths as well. Passing through the press room of the club, you can enter the ground. It’s the second largest football association stadium with a capacity of a whooping 100 thousand. You can sit on the benches, and even get to the ground side. It took almost 2 hrs to finish this tour. La Sagrada Familia was our next destination.

This cathedral is to Barcelona what Effile tower is to Paris. Its construction dates back to late 18th Century when Antonio Gaudi had started building it. And today, after almost two centuries, its still being constructed. The specialty of it is the detail and design of this masterpiece. It is almost in the center of Barcelona city, and is believed to be completed by 2026. We could not get an entry here, because didn’t pre book tickets. Entry costs 15 euros for one tower and 21-25 euro for both towers. Actually there are 14 smaller and 2 bigger towers in this cathedral and so charges vary as per which area of the cathedral you wish to enter. As we could not enter, it didn’t take too much of our time, and left after a photo stop.

Photo of La Sagrada Familia, Carrer de Mallorca, Barcelona, Spain by Manali Kirkire

Las Ramblas market was just a 20 min walk from here. I would say La Ramblas is a every shoppers’ dream, because it hosts everything from a local grocery shop to a high end fashion shop. There are almost 4-6 Zara outlets in this one region. There are souvenir shops, food outlets, shopping markets and also one of the biggest grocery market called La Bouqeira. After roaming around as locals, when sun was still high up on our heads we checked our watches, and it was 8pm local time. We were in a dilemma of whether to eat dinner because even if we did, we wont feel like dinner because of the Sun shining bright. SO we decided to get some ice creams and churros with chocolate syrup. The variety of ice cream flavours available was mind blowing, with cost being just 2.5- 3 euros depending on number of scoops. Just an FYI tip here, these markets are famous for pickpocketing, so please beware all times and keep your handbags in front.

So, then we walked further for about 20 min and reached Mirador De Colom, which is basically Alexander’s statue built at a great height. This Place was actually near Port vell, so not only could you see huge cruise ships aligned at the shore, but also can sit back and enjoy the sea view. We watched the Sun set from here and started walking back.

We stopped at Bombay Spicy, an Indian food restaurant. After the much needed tasty India dinner we left for our hotel.

Day 3 – Hotel NH Tower _ Sutton Club

Day 3

This was a rather laid back day. After Morning breakfast, we left for an official meeting followed by a Soiree at Sutton Club. FYI, I would give 10 on 10 for the music and vibe of this place, and moreover 20 on 10 for its rajmah chawal.

Day 4_Park Guelle_Montjuvic

Day 4

The day began with a shopping spree at a mall close to the hotel. Then we took train to reach Catalunya, city centre. Filling our shopping bags with souvenirs from various shops and walking though the beautiful Spanish Streets we reached Park Guell.

Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces. To see this park completely you need at least half a day, because otherwise you will miss a lot. The entry ticket is 20 euros. This park is built on a hill, which overlooks the sea and port vell from a distance.

Photo of PARK GÜELL, Barcelona, Spain by Manali Kirkire

From here, we left for Montjuvic. Take green line metro first from the nearest station and then from there you need to take a tram which takes you uphill to Montjuvic. And for our amusement, their was no operator in the tram. Even the complete Tram station was operated by machines and not by humans. After getting down from tram, you need to take a cable car which takes you to the castle on the top of the hill. The Cable car ride offers beautiful paranomic views of the city. Montjuvic castle is Barcelona’s old military fortress which dates back to 1600s. Many prisoners of war have waited their end in the cells of the castle. The castle overlooks the Mediterranean sea and offers some splendid awestriking views. The Blue skies above the blue Sea is a treat for the eyes. By late evening we headed back via cable car, tram and metro line to the las ramblas market.

Photo of Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain by Manali Kirkire
Photo of Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain by Manali Kirkire

Here we took a little detour and went to the Gothic Quarter, which is a 15-20 min walk but is in the same locality. It is known for its architecture as the complete locality is designed in a specific medieval style architecture with Narrow streets but huge squares. Here we could also human statues and artisans performing in the gothic square.

Day 5

Day 5 & Day 6 were nothing but all about flying back home. With whole lot of pictures, memories and souvenirs and off course chocolates. Tip: if you are a cheeselover, buy some while heading back, as they have a variety of it and also, Spanish saffron is considered one of the best in the world.

So, to end this travelogue, nothing better than “yo amo espana” …

Day 6

:)

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