“I am sorry, but my Spanish is not very good. How do I buy the right ticket from the vending machine?”, I asked the employee of the Barcelona metro in Spanish. “Oh, your Spanish is good”, he responded and explained me how to get my ticket, which metro lines I have to take and where I have to get off, everything as well in Spanish.
I have learned Spanish in school and at uni, but not for so many years, and I have lived and worked in Costa Rica and Chile for four months. But ever since getting home from Latin America in May 2004 I haven’t really had that many opportunities to practice the language, so I thought that I had forgotten a lot.
But already when making my way from Barcelona airport to my hotel, I realized that I am able to speak and understand more than I thought and my language skills also helped me to find my accommodation which is tucked away in a small alley in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.
I have been to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, before but that is almost 20 years ago. At that time I didn’t travel alone and I only headed there for a daytrip from the Costa Daurada. I can not remember to have seen much of the city. So I knew right away that I wanted to spend extra time in Barcelona when I registered myself for TBEX at the Costa Brava. TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange and is supposed to be the biggest Travel Blogger conference worldwide.
Also this time I had only 24 hours in Barcelona but I intended to make the most of it. So I started my exploration of the city right after checking into my hotel.
It was a balmy evening and the streets and alleys were filled with people strolling around and sitting in the many cafés, bars and restaurants. After exploring the Plaça de Sant Jaume with the Palau de la Generalitat and the Casa de la Ciutat plus the small streets and alleyways around my hotel I headed to the Plaça Reial.
Palau de la Generalitat at the Plaça de Sant Jaume
View into a House entrance at the Plaça de Sant Jaume
Alley in the Gothic Quarter
Later I continued to the La Rambla, a famous boulevard in Barcelona, which connects the harbour with the Plaça de Catalunya in the city center.
Liceu – the biggest Opera House in Barcelona – at the La Rambla
I finished the evening with a late dinner in a cosy Tapas bar in the Gothic Quarter, very close to my hotel.
The next morning started with a fantastic café con leche for leche for only 1.50 Euros in a typical spanish café. Oh boy, I wish I could get such a great coffee for such a cheap price anywhere in Germany!
Afterwards I wandered down the La Rambla to Port Vell, the old harbour. Most remarkable there are the 60 metres high Columbus monument and the magnificent buildings of the harbour and the customs authority.
Walking up the La Rambla again to the Plaça de Catalunya, I have the chance to admire the many beautiful houses which line up the boulevard and offer great photo opportunities.
Teatre Principal at the La Rambla
Market nearby the La Rambla
The Plaça de Catalunya is characterized through its statues and fountains. It was built in the late 1920 and is the most busy place in Barcelona and connects the Gothic Quarter with the new town of Barcelona. Another well-known boulevard which leads to the Plaça de Catalunya is the Passeig de Gràcia.
Passeig de Gràcia at the Plaça de Catalunya
Of course I couldn’t leave Barcelona without visiting the Sagrada Familia, a famous monument built by Antoni Gaudí, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Its construction started in 1882 and is still uncompleted. The construction cranes which could be seen from the inside and the hefty entrance fee of 15 Euros kept me away from entering the famous cathedral.
Park on the opposite side of the Sagrada de Familia
When I left Barcelona in the evening to the Costa Brava I knew that I discovered a magnificient city in Europe and that I will definitely return for a more in-depth visit.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the Hotel Brun Barcelona which is located in a narrow alley in the Gothic Quarter. The hotel is quiet but not easy to find, you better print out the directions from Google Maps. For a Single room with shared bathroom and an own balcony I paid 65 Euros per night, breakfast costs 6.50 Euros extra (as of April 2015). Complimentary Tea and Coffee, are included in the room price, whenever you like.
My room with balcony
I really liked the hotel and the atmosphere is warm-hearted. Before getting there I got an email where I was asked to let them know when I would arrive to give me a better service. The Brun Barcelona doesn’t have 24 hours reception, but the the staff is always willed to help you with tips and advices.
How to get there
There are blue busses – also called aerobus – which run from the airport to the Plaça de Catalunya. From there I took the metro to the station Liceu and walked from there. Of course you can also take a taxi, but you should do that at the Plaça de Catalunya because most taxi drivers are not willed to drive shorter distances.
The bus ride with the Aerobus from the airport to the Plaça de Catalunya, including WiFi costs 5.90 Euros. A single ticket with the metro costs 2.15 Euros, regardless of the distance, a ten-ride ticket 9,99 Euros.
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