After our luxury cruise to Spain we arrived to Barcelona at about 10 pm. We had an Air Bnb secured. A taxi delivered us to a dark alley in El Raval, a neighborhood on the brink (a very long brink) of gentrification. The taxi driver had a look around and asked us, “are you sure?”
I thought I was sure, and Jen was very much not sure, but we got out anyway. We were looking for number 23. Number 23 had a smashed window, through it we could see a mattress on the floor and food scattered around. If this was our place then I definitely overpaid.
As it turns out street and apartment numbering in Barcelona isn’t an exact science and there was in fact another 23. Our apartment did have a sketchy entry and an exceedingly long stairway up to our apartment. None of the apartments had numbers – I put some tape on the doorframe to help us find our way back. There was also a timed light for the hallway, but before we figured that out we accidentally rang the neighbor’s doorbell in the middle of the night and woke up a baby before we ran down the stairs as fast as we could to avoid being discovered. In the end we loved El Raval with it’s quirky bars and restaurants and a 7 minute walk to Las Ramblas.
I don’t want to be dramatic but Barcelona is basically heaven on earth. The market has everything you could need, including but not limited to: a cone filled with meat or a freshly squeezed juice. Either for one euro. Jen was able to eat figs every day. The city is incredibly walkable even by my standards. Jen considers every city walkable and will easily walk up to 15 km to something. Even if the city has metro. This is truly insane behavior. Barcelona is actually walkable and for those things that are a bit of a hike the metro is beautiful and cheap (10 ride pass that can be shared between two people for €10.30)
Here are my favorite Barcelona sites:
1. The Dali museum. OK this is actually not in Barcelona, it’s in a small town an hour away by fast train. Totally worth the trip. This is the most funky and fun art museum I’ve been to. There are several exhibits that you put money into and then they do something cool! Go see it!
2. The beach. According to a few actual Barcelonans we didn’t even get to a good beach and it was still awesome. These are the things you can buy on the beach: beer (ice cold beer), mojitos (rum poured out of a coke bottle), massage (10 euros for 30 minutes – best money spent that day), tattoos (no thanks), corn rows (yes really), donuts sold by a man dancing and singing with a table of donuts on his head, and finally a variety of textiles. My post Moroccan farmer tan is in need of a lot more beach time.
3. Sagrada Familia. Amazing church that gives the blue mosque a run for its money. Unfortunately it’s really really crowded with terribly annoying people with selfie sticks. Even with timed entry it’s hard to move around. We paid to go up the tower – I think Jen enjoyed it but I felt it was kind of a waste. The view of the city is much better from Park Güell.
4. Park Güell. This is a multi tiered location. The park is enormous. It’s at the top of a giant hill but, thank you Barcelona, there is an enormous outdoor escalator to the top of the hill. Jen climbed the stairs anyway – there’s just no helping some people. By and large the park is free to roam about. There is a small portion with some Gaudi buildings that you can pay to see up close. You can actually get a pretty good view of them from outside the paid area and the view of the city is free as well.
5. Food, delicious food.
We are off to Madrid now to hopefully engage in some volunteering in exchange for food and shelter. Taking advantage of two free nights at the Marriott.
This fast train is one hell of an upgrade from the slow boat.