Another Day Another Sangria, Barcelona

14:06 Melissa G 0 Comments

Summer has rolled in, school's out, sun is shining and what better way to celebrate your newfound freedom than to take a trip to Barcelona. 

So grab your friends, your bikini, and keep a hand free for a giant glass of sangria!

Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world, I've always said its a perfect balance of Finland and Lebanon; the organisation and stability of Finland with the weather and ambiance of Lebanon.
It promises gorgeous weather, art, culture, history and of course partying. What else do you need for a holiday? A girls trip was in order.

We flew in from London which was, surprise surprise, grey and rainy. Our flight was even slightly delayed because of a storm, so you can only imagine how excited we were for Spain.

After a lazy morning (which we had every day in Barcelona, after all the city only starts waking up at 10am), we headed to explore the centre, starting off with a walk through Parc de la Ciutadella.

Parc de la Ciutadella used to be the only green space in the entire city, today it holds the Barcelona Zoo, the Parliament of Catalonia, and a gorgeous fountain built by Josep Fontsere with the help of a young, and back then still unknown, Antoni Gaudi. 

There were so many dogs and that fact alone made us all extremely happy, we even saw a swimming shiba inu, amazing.

The bandstand seen behind the bubbles is where Sonia Zafra, a transwoman, got murdered by a group of neo-nazis because of her gender identity, the city of Barcelona set up a plaque next to it as to honour and remember her as well as condemn the crime.

After peacefully strolling through we explored the Rambla area, passing by the gothic quarter and Plaça Reial.

Before reaching our destination; Tapas Güell on a side street from La Rambla, where we enjoyed loads of tapas and even more sangria. It also had the best croquetas de jamon that we had during our entire trip. 

Satisfied and filled to the brim with food and wine we went off to meet some friends at Plaça del Sol, where sitting in the square and drinking beer with everyone is the norm. We somehow managed to return home with dead phones and having missed the last train, we're quite skilful aren't we?

On our second day we headed to the beach, ready to soak up the sun and lay down on the sand without being judged for being lazy and napping at 3pm.

All beaches in Barcelona are public and free, however most of them are crowded so it might be better to head to the extremities of the city (near Badalona), just make sure you don't accidentally end up at a nudist beach.

After catching a bit of colour -and Oliwia somehow managing not to burn- we headed back to the city to explore the gothic quarter.

The Barrio Gótico houses many buildings from the medieval times, as well as a partial wall from the Roman period. The streets are long yet narrow, it has a sort of a labyrinth feel at times and you might get lost there were it not for the maps scattered all around.

There is controversy over the authenticity of the buildings in the gothic area, some saying they are mere reconstructions made to transform the area into a tourist attraction, this all stems from the massive restorations that were held in the 20s. Whether its true or not the area is beautiful and worth getting lost in.

Especially when you're serenaded by guitarists.

There are many landmarks in the quarter, including the Santa Maria del Pi church which is worth a visit, but the most breathtaking is the Cathedral of Santa Eulália which seats the Archbishop of Barcelona.

It was built from the 13th to the 15th century, with the facade being finalised in 1913.

You should definitely visit the interior as some say its even more breathtaking than the Sagrada Familia, however we arrived too late so just took pictures instead. 

We kept exploring, taking a break at a flea market where we lost Antigoni as she was looking through vinyl records.

Ending the day with more tapas and sangria, when in Rome (or Barcelona) right?

On our third day we decided to expand out of the centre and see the two main works of Gaudi; Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, now in the summer and during high touristic seasons it is impossible to get in those two without a reservation ahead of time or queuing for 4 hours. None of which we did cause who has 4 hours to spare?

We did however explore the public area of the park.

Park Güell was built by Antoni Gaudi for Count Eusebi Güell, an extremely rich industrialist, who wanted to live away from the smoke of the factories and enjoy a beautiful view over the city, creating a prestigious residential area.

The park shows great examples of Gaudi's work, from the famous mosaics to the salamanders guarding the estate and the sea serpent benches.

Hiking up to the top of the park is worth the view. Just don't do it on the hottest day like we did, and bring an empty bottle of water, you can fill them up for free from the fountains.

Tired with all the tourists we decided to go to what ended up being everyone's favourite part of the trip: Tibidabo.

Tibidabo is a mountain on the edge of Barcelona, on the summit there is an amusement park but more importantly the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The landmark is not really known amongst tourists but its a must go in my opinion.

Its a little difficult to access since its far but you get to take a funicular (see what I did there). More info on how to get there here.

The reason the church was built was due to fears that the land would be used for a protestant church, so "a Board of Catholic Knights" bought it in 1886 and the project of a catholic church was launched. The main church was built from 1915 to 1951, quite a while after being acquired by the "knights".

Entrance is free but a ticket to get to the top of the church (by elevator!) is just 3 euros, and I highly recommend it since that was the highlight of our entire trip.

You can see the entirety of Barcelona from the top.

And what lies behind the mountain.

You can then climb some extra steps to get to the very very top, right at Jesus' feet.

I can't stress how amazing this was, not only do you get amazing views but you get it almost entirely to yourself, there were just 3 or 4 other groups of people there.

We then made our way back to the city, needing a break from tapas we stopped at National Burger near La Rambla for burgers that were so big yet delicious we had to take several breaks, we still had sangria, there was no stopping us.

On day 4 our only goal was to get lost in El Raval, the so called hipster area of Barcelona,  we headed straight to the vintage stores hoping to grab some good summery finds.

We then headed to MACBA, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, for an exhibition on Punk, the museum itself is great as it has couches and bean bags in the entrance hall where you can actually take a nap, loads of locals were doing just that.

Hungry, as always, we headed to La Lola, a Spanish restaurant on top of an old bull fighting arena that has now been turned into a shopping centre. Best part of the location is probably the view of Plaça d'Espanya.

Always ready for more tapas and sangria!

Sitting at the terrace we were treated to a sunset over the mountains, with Tibidabo in plain view.

Day 5 was a Sunday, keeping with tradition we went off for brunch, after all a Sunday always calls in for poached eggs or pancakes.

We went to Milk Bar where the queue goes all the way outside, but once you put your name on the list the wait shouldn't be longer than 20 minutes, I recommend it for an american style brunch.

Many museums and landmarks are free to visit on every first Sunday of the month, we wanted to take advantage of that fact and planned to see the Picasso Museum and Palau Güell. However when we arrived to the Picasso Museum the queue was so long we literally could not see where it ended. So we decided to skip that and make our way to the Palace.

Palau Güell is a mansion designed by Gaudi for the Güell family. Its definitely a must visit especially as its conveniently located near La Rambla. You're given an audio guide tour (included in ticket price) that gives some surprising insight into the design of the palace but also the life of the family that lived in it. In all it truly shows the genius of Gaudi.

Examples of Gaudi's famous mosaics can be found on the chimneys.

Next we made our way to the top of Montjuïc to visit the fortress. Montjuïc is a hill that overlooks the harbour of Barcelona, hence providing a strategic location for a fortress.

The fortress itself is not really well known amongst tourists, every time I've visited there hasn't been crowds, even when it was free there weren't many people.

The reason to go all the way up there is for the view, of course the fortress itself is interesting but the real treat is seeing all of Barcelona from there, including the port.

It also provides a great background for your pictures.

While exploring the grounds we found a jazz concert taking place in the gardens, we sat by, enjoying the music and the breeze as the warm sun started setting. A great end to a great day. 

To get to the fortress you can take a cable car from Avingunda Miramar, its a short trip but the views are fantastic.

More info on how to get there here.

On our last day of the trip we decided to take things slow. We woke up late, took our time getting ready and headed to where the whole trip had started: the Parc de la Ciutadella.

We found a nice spot in the shade, set up our blankets and prepared our snacks for a long and lazy picnic.

We took our time, trying to enjoy every last minute we had together, not knowing when was the next time we would all be reunited.

We watched as others walked on by, some rested and napped under the shade while others even practised their juggling.

It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.