First International Trip
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
As many of you know, I've been waiting months to go on my first international trip since I booked it. Well... I can scratch Spain off my bucket list. My only regret for this trip is that it was too short. For some, 4 days and 3 nights is probably plenty, but Barcelona has so much to do and see. First thing I'm going to cover is what I saw and then we'll get into what I missed out on.
Day 1 - Hop on, Hop off.
We hopped on at the Catlunya station. My suggestion would be for anyone that is interested in seeing a glimpse of everything in one day be sure to hop on the bus. This was worth it for sure. You can see everything in Barcelona in one day. The company we used had two routes and each route makes a complete rotation in about 2 hours. You can hop off at any location, walk around, take pics, get food, or use the bathroom then hop back on. Every 20 mins or so another bus should be swinging back around and continue until you're ready to stop again.
Day 2 - Monserrat/Wine tasting
We hopped on the Metro to meet with our tour conductor from Castle Experience. They showed up with their pink umbrella and were very punctual. Our group had Albert as our tour guide and this guy was AWESOME. Very personable, funny, and he knew a lot. I don't think I heard one person ask him a question that he couldn't answer about Barcelona and Spain. It was really impressive.
The trip to Monserrat was about an hour long and we rode on a very comfortable bus. Got a chance to see some of the beautiful country side along the way. On the way up we had an excellent view of the Pyrenees mountains and that was just the beginning of the views. Once we arrived Albert gave us the run down on what to expect and pointed out where everything was located.
The courtyard before entering the cathedral was full of beautiful sculptures, but once you entered the cathedral you quickly forgot about everything that was outside. It was truly beautiful. I'm not sure that I have the words to explain it. If you can zoom in on the picture you will see La Madonna Negra. I didn't get a chance to see her up close, because I wanted to go to the mountain the mountain top lol.
We took the trolley up the mountain. Not trying to walk that at all. Too steep. But once you got up there, guess what... You had to hike anyway. But it wasn't bad and well worth the the view.
Once the tour was done, we ate lunch at
Oller del Mas, which is connected to a winery as well. They were doing a lot of construction on the restaurant and the winery, but I guess it's the best time to knock it out since it's not peak season. The place has an outdoor pool, a golfing section (driving range maybe) outdoor bar, basketball hoops, and I think seen a tennis court.
The winery was the last part and that's where we had wine in a castle. Yep, a castle. A 900 year old castle lol. The wine was pretty good. I'm a light weight and walked out of there with a nice little buzz which helps to explain why I was dozing off back to our drop off location. Overall this was a good excursion to be on and I definitely recommend Castle Experience.
Day 3 - La Sagrada Familia
Picture this... Your getting off the subway heading up the escalator or stairs. You notice a lot of people are looking up and taking pictures. The picture you see here is exactly what I saw when I turned around and looked up. I wasn't expecting this at all. They're not even done with this place yet. The picture below is a model that's outside. The grey portion is what has been completed so far and the beige is what they have left to build. As you can you see there's a lot left.
For La Sagrada Familia we did the skip the line tour. That's a 100% worth the price if you want to go inside. The lines were insane. I can only imagine what it must be like in the summer time with the heat. We used Julia Travel for this one. Again another well informed tour guide, but I think we spent too much time outside.
I would have preferred to have just walked in with a pre-recorded audio.
Though they have been building this since the late 1800's, it has that mid-evil feel to it inside. I did take some choppy video (learning to use my gimble) and I may upload that to Youtube. I will update this thread if/once I do. Overall, I loved the outside more than the inside. The outside told a story from every angle. So many patterns and sculptures. They hope for it to be finished by 2022 Then again I heard someone say 2026. I think that would be a great time to go back.
Day 4 - Free day/Gothic Quarter/ Casa Mila
This was pretty much a free day. See as much as possible on the last day. First stop was the Gothic Quarter. Guess what... I had already been here and didn't know it. One right would have take us into all of the alley ways in old Barcelona and there's a lot of them. A lot of stores and what may be condos or apartments. Normally I wouldn't venture down a dark ally, but you never know what you may find down there. Could be a 1000 year old church or some other type of building. Or it could just be a tattoo parlor or Tapas bar. There was a few times that we venture into an open court yard where people were having drinks, standing around talking, or just being tourist and taking it all end. It kind of reminded me of Atlantic Station or the Avalon in Atlanta with a Miami tropical flare, but just old and unique in design and structure. It was just beautiful and I think we spent a few hours down there eating and walking around. Please be sure to visit the Gothic Quarters when you go.
We went to Casa Mila another Guadi designed building and that was definitely unique. We got off the Metro further up the street so we had a chance to visit what they say is the richest street in Barcelona. Their shopping district. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Christian Louboutin, Prada, etc, etc, etc. If you like shopping then you get my drift. Taking a picture at night is probably a lot better than the day time.
So what did I miss? A lot!!!!!! It wasn't warm enough for the beach, but I was told several times to make sure I visit in the summer because the beach is the place to be. Also Ibiza is suppose to be a party scene. I didn't get a chance to see Parc Guell due to too much time spent in the Gothic Quarter and they were closed. I did see the stadium, but it would have been nice to go to a game. What else... didn't get a chance to experience the night life. Honestly it's not my thing anymore plus I spent most of the trip nursing a cold. Yeah, I was sick. Head cold that I was trying to fight before I left, but it took over halfway through the trip.
Overall I love Barcelona. This was great place to go for my first international trip. In the next few years I'm considering leaving the US and living abroad. Barcelona is definitely on my list now. So... where to next???