Barcelona. Home to works of art from Gaudi to football clubs.
But what is it like? I was there recently for book research (my sixth book of my John Steel mystery thriller series, and yes I’m plugging because it’s my blog), and I wanted to get to know the ins and outs of the place.
First of all, best airport, I’ve ever come into. Usually, its here’s your bags now get out. Not here, you have to go through the shops to get to baggage claim. Smart idea. Next off, the taxis. These were organised pretty much like JFK in New York, where you are led to a taxi. Its fare on the customers and the drivers. To get from the airport to our hotel was around 28 Euros. A decent price I thought. There are buses, but really stuck on public transport with all those cases?
The Hotel; a very nice place called the Hotel Granvia, was located in the prime location. Not too far from restaurants the local stores. The hotel was fantastic with friendly and helpful staff. The building itself only has around fifty rooms, but this ensures a peaceful and pleasant stay. The room was fabulous with a view of the street and a comfortable bed. Tea and coffee items were also in the rooms. However, the coffee machine in the breakfast room was always available for use. There is a small library/ quiet room, which I often used for my writing.
Barcelona is a fascinating place due to the mixed structures, ranging from buildings from the 1400s to modern multi-level apartments. The people are friendly and welcoming. They speak Catalonian, Spanish, English and also more than often with hand and foot. There are markets tucked away down side streets as well as the main shops selling Burberry and Hugo Boss.
The city is vast, but one can find that in a moment of utter awe, you’ve just walked around half of it. There are fantastic restaurants, but beware there are ones that are not that great as well. We were directed to one restaurant called Casa Carmen. A brilliant restaurant, with fantastic food at a reasonable price. The staff were helpful and made you feel welcome. This place I would most certainly recommend. But there are other places out there, you just have to explore and try out. However, I would say you speak to the hotel staff to see what they would recommend rather than just going for it too much.
The weather was just perfect; not too hot during the day so walking around didn’t feel like a forced march. The evenings can be a bit chilly, but by British standards, it was quite lovely. There is so much to see and do. So depending on your time schedule, make a plan. There are hop-on-hop-off buses, which are good to get an initial feel for the place.
There are a few places that you will require to cue at to pay and then again to get in. One of these is the Sagrada Familia. A marvellous place, but there are times allotted for when you can buy the tickets and then when you can enter. A bit strange, but then it keeps down the number of people inside.
Another place that should be on anyone’s To-do list is Montserrat. This is a monastery that has grown into a breathtaking wonder set on top of a mountain.
There are several ways up. But we took the cable car. The view from the car was outstanding, and also you find yourself humming the theme from Where Eagles Dare…or maybe that was just me?
The place itself has restaurants, gift shops and a view that will take your breath away. Inside this building is the most fabulous place of worship. Believer or not it is worth a look.
Barcelona is a jewel that everyone should experience at some point. The place gave you the feel of being relaxed rather than pressuring you to rush around. It is definitely a place I would revisit, regardless of seeing most of the sights. But I believe it has more to offer.
So, go pack your bags and get yourself to Barcelona.