Day Four’s diary is a little late in being posted because, in all honesty, I’ve just been having way too much fun in Barcelona to take the time to sit and write!
On Saturday, I woke up ridiculously early, around 5am, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’d planned on starting for Park Güell at around 8am to avoid the crowds (and queues…my least favourite thing about Barcelona!) so I just got up, ready to go and chilled out on the hostel terrace with a coffee and my book for an hour or so.
From the hostel on Carrer de Montmany, it was around a 25 minute walk north to Park Güell. You start to see the Gaudi designs as you approach from the west entrance but, even if you’re not paying to go into the Monumental Zone, it’s worth walking along to the main entrance to see the amazing Hansel and Gretel-style gatehouses. It costs 7 euros to get into the Monumental Zone but if you’re on a budget (like me) there is still plenty to see and do without paying. There are lots of different paths to explore, and you can see the house where Gaudi once lived (which is now a museum) but the best thing about the park is the views.
From the level behind the Monumental Zone, you get an amazing view of the Barcelona skyline, with the Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc and the sea in the distance. There are beautiful sculptured bridges and seating areas, where you can take in the views and the local wildlife (look out for all the colourful parrots!)
If you continue climbing the west direction paths of the park, you’ll come to the highest vantage point – which is a stone structure with three crosses on the top.
As I made my way up (there are some steep steps but it’s worth it for the panoramic view at the top), I realised an elderly Spanish man was following me. I was taking in the absolutely breathtaking views (go early if you can, watching the sun come up over Barcelona from here is something quite special) when he started talking in very fast Spanish and pointing at things in the distance. I smiled and explained (in broken Spanish) that I don’t speak Spanish, but he continued talking anyway! I asked him if he would mind taking my picture but somehow this translated to him being in the picture with me – cue an unexpected selfie with an 80-year-old Spaniard!
It all seemed rather lovely until he started feeling up my leg, at which point I was (thankfully) saved by a French couple, who offered to take my picture for me.
I managed to shake off the old man on the way back down from the crosses and continued wandering about the park until my blistered feet couldn’t take anymore – tip, wear sensible shoes everywhere in Barcelona!
I stopped for coffee at a small café on the way back down and then nipped into the hostel to plaster my feet and change shoes before I headed out again for my next Gaudi attraction – La Pedrera (or Casa Milà as its officially named).
La Pedrera, on Passeig de Gràcia, is another Gaudi UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is impressive from the street, with it’s strangely shaped windows and wrought-iron balconies, but it really is worth paying and queueing to get up onto the roof.
Gaudi’s chimneys, against the skyline of Barcelona, are like some strange dreamlike urban forest. I queued for over an hour (you don’t need to, just be less of an idiot than me and book your time and ticket online) and paid 20 euros to get it…but it was worth every penny.
As well as the roof, your ticket gives you access to “The Apartment” – which has been recreated as the apartment of bourgeois family from the first part of the twentieth century.
Fitting is as much Gaudi as possible, I headed further down Passeig de Gràcia towards Casa Batlló – one of the architect’s most famous buildings because of its bone and scale-like structural elements. The queue for this was (again) huge so I decided to skip the interior tour and just view the outside. If you do want to visit, it costs 21.50 euros, which can be booked in advance online.
My next stop was Barcelona Cathedral (Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia) in Barri Gòtic – Barcelona’s gothic quarter. This is one of my favourite parts of the city, full of twisting, narrow streets and squares.
Construction of the Cathedral began in the 13th century, making it one of Barcelona’s best examples of gothic architecture. I paid 7 euros to get in, which included access to the roof.
Apart from the huge pillars and incredible ceiling, the highlight (for me anyway) is the cloister – a courtyard with a beautiful garden full of palm and orange trees, and a pond that is home to the 13 white geese of the Cathedral.
After the gothic beauty of the Cathedral, I felt like I’d hit my sightseeing limit for the day and stumbled upon a little square just around the corner where I chilled out with a beer and some tapas for an hour.
I decided not use the Metro to get back to the hostel, but to walk instead (Barcelona, once you’ve got your basic bearings, is a pretty walkable city). I made like the Spanish and had a siesta for a few hours before getting ready for dinner with one of the women for the hostel.
We stuck to Gràcia again for food and picked a tiny little place called Mil Miralls on Carrer de la Perla. It had a local, bohemian feel, but that seems to be the general atmosphere of Gràcia (which is definitely not a bad thing).
We had amazingly fresh burgers (mine was the Parmesan – definitely recommended) and great mojitos which, for the two of us, cost just over 30 euros. We walked back along to the hostel and booked tickets for the Sagrada Familia for Sunday night (no more queueing for me!). With another early start and day of sightseeing planned, I headed for bed and was hoping to have a lovely, long sleep but…
Read more in Barcelona – Day Five!