Barcelona, Spain: Day 1

Hello and happy Monday! Today I am recapping my last out of country weekend for a couple of weeks. Fear not, I have some in-country trips planned!

Now, I really had no intention of going to Spain at all this semester. This is not because I did not want to go to Spain (I am minoring in Spanish). Rather, there were other European countries and cities higher on my bucket list for my semester abroad in England and I figured I could go to Spain later on in my life. However, my friend Miriam REALLY wanted to go on a trip together and REALLY wanted to go to Barcelona to see La Sagrada Familia. With that being said, we booked this trip together months ago. Tenshi, another friend, happened to be on the same train and flight as Miriam and I even though we had not booked anything together. As a result, the three of us ended up booking a hostel together and traveling together during the weekend!

On Thursday after my only class of the day, I headed to the train station with Miriam and Tenshi. After traveling on four different trains, we finally arrived at London Stansted. From there, we flew the two hours to Barcelona, Spain. By the time the three of us made our way through border control, the time was midnight.

Now, when flying into Barcelona El-Prat you have four options to get to the city:

  1. Take the metro. However, the metro lines only operates during select hours of the day. At midnight, this line does not run.
  2. Hop on the Aerobus, which drops off at two different stops in Barcelona and takes roughly 30 minutes. This is the cheapest, quickest, and most direct bus to the city. However, the bus stops running at 1:00 am.
  3. Take the city bus that stops 10+ times. If you have a public transport card, the pass can be used for this bus. The city bus is the most time-consuming.
  4. Hail a cab and pay anywhere from 30+ euros. Quick, but expensive!

Fortunately for us, the night bus that runs directly into the city happened to still be running. This meant we could each get into the city for 5.60 euros instead of splitting a cab for 30-35 euros. Woohoo! After getting to our hostel, HelloBCN, we finally managed to get some rest at 2:00 am.

Later that morning, Tenshi, Miriam, and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hostel and looked at a map of the city to figure out our itinerary for the day. We decided to go to all the tourist hot-spots, which happened to be nearby our hostel.

With the help of Google maps, we made our way to the metro where we each retrieved our 48-hour public transport passes which allowed for unlimited use of the metro and city buses.

Barcelona, without a doubt, is best navigable by metro. A 48-hour pass cost around $15 USD and if purchased online results in a slight discount. Of course, if you have a longer stay in the city, passes for 72+ hours are available too. I cannot recommend purchasing a metro pass enough! If you plan on visiting museums and other attractions, the Barcelona Card may be the better option for you. This card is specifically for tourists and includes unlimited access to public transport and offers discounts for certain attractions and museums. For me, the 48-hour public transport pass made the most sense.

Now, with riding the metro, you MUST wear or hold any bag at the front of your body. Why? Pick pocketing is very common on the metro and on the streets. The Barcelona metro screens actually run advertisements in the metro cars to remind passengers to watch their belongings. This semester alone, four students from Harlaxton have had their phones stolen in Barcelona.

For the entirety of the weekend, I wore my backpack on my front as a precaution and kept my phone close to my chest when navigating our group from place to place. With my camera, I had my strap across my body as if I was wearing a cross body bag thinking this would make stealing the camera more difficult. However, a local actually told me when exiting the metro to watch my camera even closer.

This is not to say pick pocketing does not exist in other European cities or countries. However, in Barcelona, pick pocketing is common. Be on guard when traveling there.

Back to my day…

We rode for one stop and got out to see the Columbus Monument at Las Ramblas.

Hola, Christopher Columbus

Miriam, Tenshi, and I then made our way down Las Ramblas. This is a famous tourist street in Barcelona known for its tacky tourist stalls and street performers. As we made our way down the street, we came across the famous La Boqueria or food market. Of course, the three of us made our way inside to look at the fruits, candy, and fish (some of which were still moving) that were available for sale.

After La Boqueria, the three of us continued down Las Ramblas and eventually hopped on the metro again to see the Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona.

Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona

Then, we hopped back on the metro to see the Palau de la Música Catalana. Originally, I had wanted to see the famous mosaic columns at the concert hall. However, to get up close, you had to go on a tour. Miriam, Tenshi, and I decided to go on the next English tour to see the interior of the Palau. The 1-hour tour did not disappoint! Each tour begins with a short video of the history of the concert hall and then the guide takes you around the building.

Out of all of the paid landmarks I saw in Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana was my favorite!

After our tour, we made our way to the Barcelona cathedral. Since you had to pay an entrance fee to go inside, Miriam, Tenshi, and I opted not to go inside since we would be going to see La Sagrada Familia later in the evening.

Barcelona Cathedral

For the duration of the afternoon, we wandered around Barcelona taking in the architecture, sights, and smells. Around 4:00 pm, we made our way by metro to La Sagrada Familia.

I cannot even begin to explain to you, friends, how crazy this church is to see in person. Pictures do not do La Sagrada Familia justice. This semester, I have been inside too many churches to count and La Sagrada Familia is by far the most wild of them all both structurally and artistically.

Antoni Gaudí designed this Catholic church and it has been under construction since 1882! With being under construction for so long, the older parts of the church have become dirty on the outside, while the newer parts are cleaner.

If you are interested in going inside, you MUST purchase your tickets in advance! Miriam and I purchased our tickets back in March and there were only evening time slots available. If we would have planned our trip earlier, I would have opted for tickets around 12:00 pm. Supposedly, the sunlight streaming in through the glass is best during that time of day. However, early evening is the second best time to be in the church light-wise.

Once we wrapped up inside the church, we headed to a tapas restaurant for dinner!

That’s all for day one! Stop back tomorrow for a day two recap!

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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