Spain is lovely, but before this, I’d only seen Madrid in a haste, a couple of roads leading to Portugal here and there and of course, the Canary islands. But this May I got to see the stunning city of Barcelona! Here’s a quick look at our 4-day trip, the things we saw and liked and of course, Barcelona in photos.
Winning an ebookers trip somewhere warm was a really nice surprise in the midst of Finnish spring-winter that just seemed to go on and on with no end in sight. I really struggle during winter, as I tend to get a little depressed and tired due to all the dark and cold. Yes, winter time can be really beautiful in Finland, especially in the north, I’m just not one of those sporty outdoorsy types who enjoy skiing and well, spending a lot of time in the snow and cold.
This year, we were still getting occasional snow and hail throughout the country in late May (late May!) — but I didn’t care: I was getting ready to go to Barcelona, Spain with my mother who I hadn’t traveled with in nearly a decade.
She’s a sun worshipper, I was excited about the art, so we seemed like a pretty perfect Barcelona duo. I figured since she was going with me, I’d get some relaxation as well, when usually, our trips consist of very long days of running around, looking for filming locations and sights to see. It can get quite tiring and what I really needed now was an escape from the depressing weather.
And that was exactly what we were about to do! So, we booked our hotel and flights via ebookers, packed our bags and got ready for the lovely heat.
Barcelona, great for the sun folk
First, I took care of the one very basic tradition us Nordic people often have in Spain and other sunny countries: I burned my skin. Shoulders, forearms, chest, even my face a little. Why didn’t I put on sunscreen?! I figure it was the first day “shock” of being somewhere so warm.
“Pffft, I won’t burn so easily!” she said and burned.
We were also tired from the night of traveling and I just didn’t think it would happen that fast. It was like I’d never been to hot places before…
My arms were sore to the touch, my bra straps hurt my shoulders and I was really afraid the skin on my face would peel off. So yeah, the first thing next day (once the shops finally opened on Monday) was to buy both sunscreen and after-sun lotion. Boy… did they feel good at that point.
Our hotel in Barcelona
Our lovely hotel, Hotel Barcelona Princess, had a rooftop pool where we spent a couple of hours while waiting for our room to be ready. The pool area wasn’t the biggest, but we always managed to find a chair or two to lounge on. The view alone was worth it and the warmish water in the pool that made it possible for me to soak in there for an hour at a time.
I guess that was my biggest mistake when it comes to protecting myself from the sun, as well: soaking in the pool just doesn’t cover it.
The views from the Princess were too amazing for words. The rooftop pool was on the 23rd floor, our room with terrace on the 21st. We couldn’t stop admiring and going “ooh” and “ahh” every time we passed a window or stopped at the hallway to wait for the scenic elevator.
There’s just something so exhilarating waking up in the sky, basically.
The arts and architecture of Barcelona
I’ll have to write a separate post about Maestro Antoni Gaudí a bit later, but let me tell you… Barcelona is one of the most colorful, inspiring cities for a photographer / painter to roam. Gaudí’s houses and Park Güell were a treat already, but then there’s also the museums: Fundació Joan Miró, Museu Picasso, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and a few more. We didn’t have time for those this time, but that just means we’ll have more to explore if we ever get back to Barcelona.
But one doesn’t really need museums to rest their eyes on art in Barcelona: everywhere we looked, more and more beautiful houses appeared and the mosaics and colors of Antoni Gaudí have inspired all sorts of decorations everywhere, even some of the shop signs and windows. So for me, the colorful stuff lover, this was heaven. What a palette!
The touristy things in Barcelona
Who says the popular tourist activities and sights aren’t worth it?! Silly people, that’s who. Since we only had a few days to spend in Barcelona and my mother isn’t big on riding subways and trams, we opted for one of the hop-on hop-off buses. We picked The Barcelona Bus Turistic because it had three different routes that fit our plans quite perfectly. There was at least one other similar service, The Barcelona City Tour, which is probably just as good but runs two longer routes around the city.
We also took a walk down La Rambla, a popular tourist market street that spans over almost mile across the city, which was… well, even more touristy than we were warned beforehand. Still, if a city has something so famous that everyone goes there? Hell yes we’re going to check it out.
La Rambla for us meant a nice morning walk down to the port, where we caught a stunning cruise on a real schooner. You can buy regular tickets for the cruise, too (and we recommend it warmly!), but we happened to get a couple of free invites after buying some loooooovely stuff at the big Desigual store next to Plaça de Catalunya. There’s a bit more information on this offer here.
Another tourist attraction we visited — but also an important part of Barcelona’s history — was Montjuïc Castle, a fortress that dates back all the way to the 1640’s. For someone who’s been to about two dozen Welsh and British castles, the fortress itself was quite a plain one, but the views over the city and the ride we took on Montjuïc Cable Car so made it worth our time.
Food, drinks and siesta in Barcelona
Again, due to lack of time, we kept the dining part quite simple: we just walked out of the hotel or some side alley downtown and checked out some menus, then picked a place. We had some lovely sandwiches, chicken with roast potatoes, burgers and a few traditional Spanish things, but I have to pick Corchos Barcelona as our favorite find: we only had a light tapas lunch of spicy potatoes, chicken file sticks with dip and big glasses of sangria, but these simple dishes and wine cocktails were just perfect for that early afternoon.
A quickly served, delicious lunch by a friendly staff, that’s what the touristy duo liked!
We didn’t really notice the siesta time in Barcelona to be an inconvenience as we were out and about every day at that time looking at sights and things. The biggest shops and plenty of restaurants stayed open throughout the day as well, although Google warned me some of them might well be closed in the afternoon time.
There was this one day when we got really tired in the heat and just headed back to the hotel for a little rooftop pool nap in the sun. So, I guess, that would be our most genuine siesta experience!
Barcelona in photos
Here’s a bunch of photos I took during the trip – this one’s still missing the most stunning pictures from Sagrada Familia, which basically brought me to tears with the late afternoon sun flooding in through the stained glass windows. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before! So, that dude’s work deserves it’s own post. Coming up soon…