It was early June when my partner and I visited Barcelona, and as we arrived in the airport, I had already crossed off a massive list of ‘firsts’: my first trip to Spain, my first trip further away than Paris, my first trip somewhere hotter than England (although that one’s not too hard), my first airport departure from somewhere other than Southampton. As you can imagine, I was thrilled for all of these ‘firsts’ to be realised in such a wonderful cultural city.
We arrived in the hotel pretty late, tired and hungry, so didn’t have much of a chance to admire the decor at the time, but it was a really beautiful place in its comfort and simplicity. Hotel U232 was our home for 4 nights, and the staff and surroundings were so wonderful that we never really wanted to leave!
On days 1 & 2 we observed some of the sights that Barcelona has to offer: La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, Las Ramblas, the marina, with my favourite place for all its vibrancy being La Boqueria, a food market that sits just off Las Ramblas. It offers fresh fruits, smoothies, sweets, seafood, meat… anything edible really. I had a refreshing pineapple & coconut smoothie and Fahad got a massive bag of hand-selected sweets for himself.
We managed to get to everywhere on foot from La Sagrada Familia, which was a delight for our bank accounts! In fact, for the entire time we were there, we pretty much walked everywhere, using one T-10 ticket between us. The only time we needed to pay for extra transport was when we left the city, which brings me onto…
This was one thing that the both of us had been desperately looking forward to since we booked our flights, and another first for me! Never before had I experienced the sheer joy that comes from shooting down a waterslide in 30 degree heat. We caught the train to Premia de Mar and got a shuttle to Illa Fantasia, a fairly small but sufficient waterpark, about a mile from the station. It was a really enjoyable day, and we were able to meander our way back to the station on foot.
While our budget was certainly restrictive – we bought a loaf of bread, some sliced cheese and chicken so we could have sandwiches for lunch every day – the food we bought in restaurants was always filling and pleasant. Maybe I’m harder to please than my other half, but I was just a little underwhelmed by everything I ordered, whereas he was consistently delighted by his choices, and even today he talks about the best burger of his life, at a place just down the road from our hotel that I’ve now forgotten the name of. One thing I was always pleased with, however, was the ice cold Spanish beer on offer.
Perfectly refreshing on a hot, sunny day, a bottle or two of Estrella with our food was a necessity. Served alongside iced glasses and perhaps a small plate of patatas bravas to share, Spanish lager had everything you want: an incredibly low price, perfect temperature and excellent taste.
Even though we didn’t do many particularly adventurous things, our little holiday still felt like a fantastic exploration, and even though I have dozens of other places on my list, it’s inevitable that I’ll return to Barcelona as soon as I get the chance.