September 18 - 23, 2017
Barcelona is the largest city and capital of Catalonia, Spain. Located around 20 miles south of the French border, the seaside city of is full of art, sunshine, and loyal followers of the world famous FC Barcelona.
Flying out from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, I arrived in Barcelona at 9pm on Monday night. I was staying at Hotel Colors, just outside of the city, 2 miles North-East of Park Guell. The location wasn’t great, but it was close to a metro stop, it was nice, and it was a good price.
Earlier in 2017 I went on my first ever solo trip, a weekend to the nearby town of Oban. It was a short trip, but it inspired me to get out and see more! As soon as I got home, I was already making arrangements for where I’d go next.
I decided to go somewhere in Europe, and eventually settled for Barcelona. The city looked interesting, the flights were cheap, and the weather was warm! As this was my first time going on an international trip by myself, and the first time I’d visit a non English speaking country, I was a bit nervous. I wanted to go somewhere popular with tourists and ‘easy’. Barcelona seemed perfect!
Additionally, I’ve always liked FC Barcelona. My favorite childhood player (Ronaldinho) played for them, so I was always watching their games. My current favorite player (Luis Suarez) had transferred there from Liverpool, and of course, the best player of all time (Lionel Messi) was the icon at the club.
Seeing Lionel Messi play football, in person, never seemed like something I would do. It seemed too surreal. But, there was no reason this thinking! There was nothing stopping me from flying to Barcelona for a few days and seeing a match, so I went for it.
I got the time off work, booked the match tickets, booked the flight, made a checklist of stuff to see, and then set off for Barcelona!
Learning to use the metro system was a little daunting at first as I’d never used anything like it before, but once you get the hang of it, is so easy to use and understand! Getting around was a breeze.
I had all of Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, and half of Friday in the city before my 10pm flight back to Glasgow on Friday night.
On Tuesday, I would walk around the city and then go to a football match at night. On Wednesday, I would take a day trip to the nearby Montserrat. On Thursday, I would see the sights, including Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia, and Park Guell. I had no plans for Friday, but I ended up exploring some more and even riding a pirate ship!
• 2,300 Miles
• 6 Days
• 1 Hotel
• 2 flights (5.5 hours)
• 6 Trains (4.5 Hours)
• 4 Messi Goals
The City of Counts
The city of Barcelona has a population of around 1.6 million, and plenty of more tourists. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular, the city is jam packed full of attractions and works of art. It was hard to even decide where to go! On my first day, I had a walk around the Gothic District, a series of old streets which give a medieval feel. I also visited the beach, and the nearby Maremagnum mall.
I got to walk down Las Ramblas, a beautiful tree covered street full of markets and cafes. On Friday, I got to see the Museu Nacional d’Art, an impressive building holding an art museum. Less cultural, I also opted to jump on a Pirate ship and go on a scenic tour of the harbour. I had no plans for this, but who could say no to a ride on a pirate ship?!Placa Reial, Gothic Quarter Gothic Quarter Columbus Momument, Las Ramblas Plaça de Catalunya, City Centre
Mes Que Un Club - More Than A Club
Camp Nou is a football stadium located in Barcelona. It can hold 99,354 people, and is home to one of the best clubs in the world, FC Barcelona. On Tuesday the 19th, I went to the Camp Nou for the first time to see Barcelona vs Eibar. I was excited to see Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi play, but unfortunately Suarez was only on the bench, and never made an appearance. Thankfully, Messi
made up for this by putting on a brilliant show! Barcelona won 6-1, with Messi scoring 4 of the goals. I felt so lucky to see the greatest player of all time playing at his best. A couple of days later, I went back to the Camp Nou to go on a tour of the stadium. Although not quite as exciting as the game, it was still interesting to see all of the clubs titles, and Messi’s 5 Ballon d’Ors.The Monastery, as seen from Sant Miquel Cross
The Saw Mountain
Montserrat is a mountain range located 30 miles outside of Barcelona. The name ‘Montserrat’ is Catalan for ‘Saw Mountain’, which is a good description of the mountains jagged peaks. Montserrat also has some religious significance. Sitting halfway up the mountain is the Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine Monastery which is Catalonias most important religious retreat.
To reach Montserrat, you had to get a 1 hour train, and then either a cable car or funicular to the monastery. I opted for the cable car. I wasn’t too interested in the monastery and thus didn’t spend much time there, but I did go hiking to the peak of Saint Jeroni (1,236m). The hike wasn’t too hard, and the views along the way were like something from another world! It was unforgettable!Sant Miquel Chapel Sant Miquel Cross Sant Miquel Cross, as seen from the Monastery
The House of Bones
The Casa Batllo is a museum, apartment building, and private event hosting facility in the centre of Barcelona. It was built in 1940, designed by the local architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi has designed a number of Barcelona’s top attractions, including Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. His modern designs are very unique, and are equal parts expressive and complex.
The coloured tilling can be seen in in a number of Gaudi’s designs, and i love how they look! The entire building, inside and out, was beautiful to look at. Everything from the doors to the lights were designed so simply, yet the textures and shapes combine perfectly to give it a really great look. Gaudi is regarded as one of the best architects of all time, and it’s easy to see why.
The Church of the Holy Family
The Sagrada Familia is a massive church within Barcelona. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, and construction began in 1882. At age 30, Gaudi dedicated the rest of his life to the project until his death in 1926. Gaudi’s body is now buried within the buildings crypt. The designs are so complex that the construction is still not complete, however it is predicted to completed in 2026...
144 years after work began. It can hold 14,000 people, and once complete it will be 170m tall, which will make it the tallest religious building in the world. The scale of this building is massive, it was incredibly difficult to take pictures which did it any justice. My favorite part was the windows. They had great designs and colors, which reflected a rainbow of light into the halls.
Gaudis Attempt At Landscape Gardening
Park Guell is a public park located near the back of Barcelona, overlooking the city. It was created in 1900, designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was originally meant to be a little city of houses for wealthy individuals, however this didn’t work so well. In the 1920’s, the city of Barcelona bought the grounds, and transformed it into a public park.
Gaudi’s work and designs can be seen all over the park. The entire place feels like a weird and mystical place, almost magical. As an added bonus, the high elevation of the park gives great views of the city!
It was nice to walk around the park and take in all of Gaudi’s work. Although, it was a very hot day, so it was pretty uncomfortable!
This was the last stop for me in Barcelona before heading back home the next day. The journey home was quite uneventful, although I did need to spend the night in Glasgow Prestwick airport due to a late flight arrival.
The airport was cosy, although very, very cold. I woke up in the morning freezing! To heat myself up, I figured I’d get a coffee, and opted to try something new, a ‘Caramel Frappuccino’. That sounded nice! Turns out that was a coffee made of ice. Great! It was nice, but not very helpful.
I loved Barcelona, and I loved seeing all the work of Gaudi. Getting to see FC Barcelona and Messi play was also a dream come true! Although the highlight for me was hiking at Montserrat, there’s nowhere else like it.
My nerves were mostly unwarranted, and it felt very safe. I had good timing, as the month before I arrived, there was a terrorist attack in Las Ramblas, killing 13 people, and the week after I left, there was an independence vote, which resulted in large scale protests and police brutality.
Despite learning basic Spanish for a few weeks beforehand, I found that I barely used it. Everyone spoke great English!
My only regret on this trip was not going for longer. There’s still so many things I want to see, such as the Cathedral, and the Castle. I would love to visit again one day to see some more of the city!
“My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.”
- Diane Arbus
Barcelona • Camp Nou • Montserrat
Cassa Batllo • Sagrada Familia • Park Guell