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Sunday, 12 February 2017

BARCELONA ON A BUDGET


At the start if 2017 the boyfriend and I vowed that we would be more spontaneous and this resulted in  us booking up a random trip to Barcelona, hopefully to be followed by many other weekends away.  Being the geek that I am, I was incredibly excited to go site seeing whereas Nath was more there for the Tapas and the Beer, either way we had a lovely little weekend away. I'm not a travel writer by any stretch, my funds simply would not allow it, but I thought I would recount some of my tales and also see if I can give small amounts of advice. Mainly though, I just want to share my photos with you.


We flew out on Feb the 6th and came home on the 9th, in total for two adult return flight it cost us £80. Travelling out of season obviously has its financial benefits, you may however not be so lucky with the weather. We just happened to luck out and it was 18 degrees for majority of the time we were there. We were staying about a 15 minuet walk away from las Ramblas in Hotel Grums, it was pretty much a residential area, not touristy at all. There were local shops, restaurants and a Lidl all in walking distance. The best thing about our hotels location was the local park where graffiti artists were working daily. We spent a little time watching them work, which was something out of the ordinary. The hotel was nicely decorated, it had the odd scuff on the wall here and there in the room but the bar was lovely and what I seen of the spa was nice. Plus we paid next to nothing for it, £150 for three nights and 7 euro city tax. So if the wall paper was scuffed I can not complain. Perks of staying just outside the city, is obviously it's cheaper. Yet you will have to walk further or splash the cash on Taxi's but its really up to you to calculate what would be better for you. 


During the day we pretty much walked every where, come the night when certain areas become a little more dicey we grabbed taxis. We used an app called MyTaxi the entire time we were there, it's kinda the equivalent of uber. Not many tourists use it but it really came in handy as it can link with google maps and calculate the fare (near enough) and the distance and time it would take to get to a certain location. The best thing about the app is that you weren't waiting around for a taxi, you'd get one pretty much immediately, picked up from where ever you were standing. I would say on average we paid about €10 to €15 for a 15 minuet taxi ride but never over €20.  Like I said, it isn't really necessary to get a taxi, Barcelona isn't that big and it has great transport links such as buses and metros. There is the tour bus that visits all the local attractions, it is around €60 for a day ticket, you can jump on and off when ever you please and there is generally one every fifteen minuets at the highlighted bus stops. If you are feeling active, you can walk to many of the attractions. With a little assistance from google maps now and then, we navigated our way around fairly easily. A little warning to fellow tourists about the traffic lights and crossings, although it did not personally happened to us, we did see a fair few people almost run over. Zebra crossings are barely honoured don't be very British and just step out on them. In four days I saw someone stop once. Cross the traffic lights quickly don't make a mad dash for the flashing amber, the cars will pull out, pip their horn and nip at your heels. Don't ask me how the lights work, there is no button, they are on timer I do believe so just wait patiently with the hoard of pedestrians and then cross on green man. 


Las Ramblas too me wasn't all it was all cracked up to be, I much more enjoyed Placa de Catalunya. However Las Ramblas does hold the hidden gem that is La Boqueria, which is basically a market. This is a great place for locals and tourists a like, you can get your grocery shopping, stop for a pint and have some snacks all at once. It is filled with little cones of treats, from chocolates and churros, to kebabs and tapas there is something for everyone. Even if you just go in to take some photos and to have a snoop it really is worth while having a look.


I did struggle with food from time to time whilst we were there. There are plenty of tapas bars along Las Ramblas but they are all very 'samesy' and in honesty not that great quality. Walking did get the better of us eventually and we paused to have some tapas and some drinks, I can't say the food was memorable or impressive to be honest, but it was nice to people watch and to sit in a beautiful place and watch the world go by. I did have a pretty good pink Mojito in Tapa Tapa.


We figured out that the best option for us was to grab some kind of takeout food, find a quite spot and just sit a chill. It was much nicer food and the variety of scenery was where ever you wanted your feet to take you. I really became a fan of Thai takeout whilst I was in Barc. There are plenty of little wok style takeouts that make Phad Thai or curries. We got one just next to the market on Las Ramblas and we tried one from Pure Cuisine near the Sephora off the Placa de Catalunya. Each time we brought it back to our favourite spot in the city, the foundations at Placa De Catalunya, it's smack bang in the middle of the city but it has this sort of calm about it. I highly recommend just taking a perch there and wasting a little time relaxing and taking in the surroundings.


Of course we looked at some attractions, The Sagrada Famillia, Casa Batllo and Park Guell to name a few. I'm not going to talk about all of them because this post is already much too long, so I'm singling out my favourite. Park Guell. Even if you don't appreciate architecture, this place is just magical. The buildings are reminiscent of fairy tales, the mosaic circles around the windows of one of the buildings reminded me of gum drops on a ginger bread house.  What I'm trying to say here is that your imagination can take you anywhere when you are here, its just cure creativity. My boyfriend isn't the greatest fan of site seeing, he puts up with it because he knows I like it and he's a good man. Even he liked going here, because its just so different to look at, there's really nothing quite like it. The entry fee for here is €8 each, so not much at all really. I'm not sure if this increases in the summer, and you have to go in a certain slot time, you can stay as long as you please but once you leave you can't get back in. The gardens surrounding the park however are free, and equally as lovely to walk around. Nathan and I gabbed away in the sunshine on a bench in the gardens for about an hour.


Barcelona is pretty much as expensive as you make it, there's lots of sites to see for free and even if you wish to go in I really don't think the prices are that extortionate. Food is the same again, you can go to beautiful restaurants or you can grab something on the go. Don't be put off by the price tag because you really could do this on a shoe string budget or you can splash out, its entirely down to you, what your Barcelona experience is like, whichever you choose make the most of it!

I have so many more photos that I would love to share, but I fear that this is already getting far too long. My main advice is to just go and explore, map out where you want to go or simply just get lost walking around. It's a really unusual city with a nice mix of things to do and most of all I'm very grateful for the alone time with Nathan. So here's to the first adventure and hopefully more to come.

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