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Published: July 26th 2016
Barcelona at last! On the top of our bucket list were the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Gaudi's arty architecture, the crazy mosaics and Las Ramblas. Barcelona proved to be so much more.
Arrival at Barcelona airport was a bit fraught as we waited in vain for the baggage carousel to spit out our bags. After an anxious wait, we joined the long queue at the lost luggage counters. There were many people in similar circumstances. Having to return to the airport the next day left a slightly sour note as we wasted our first day playing tag with our bags and security guys. I couldn't believe the truckloads of lost luggage being stored. Apparently it is quite a common occurrence particularly at this airport - I guess it is a very popular destination however I think the problem proved to be over-full aeroplanes so some luggage was left behind in Frankfurt. Most frustrating when faced with having to replace essential items in a hurry. Fortunately, our bags did turn up the next day so we could get started actually enjoying our sightseeing.
Hopping on and off the buses is usually a favourite activity of ours to get familiar with the
general layout of the city. The three circuits took a minimum of 2 hours each so getting on and off to spend more time in each location was quite time-consuming especially in the heavy traffic at times. We did however get a feel for the city and glimpsed tantalising views of the main attractions on our first trip around. Selfie sticks were in use everywhere in Barcelona. The selfie stick sellers were very popular and as far as people-watching and street photography goes, the "un-selfconscious" selfie tourists provided us with some interesting spectator sport opportunities.
Meeting up with inflight companions from NZ on the hop on bus was an added bonus especially as they gave us their night lights tour bus tickets which they didn't have time to use. Seeing the city at night gave us a different perspective. on Barcelona. The magic fountain was truly stunning and we watched the light show for as long as we could before hopping back on the bus. Another well worthwhile experience.
Our apartment was in El Born which has a lively nightlife culture. We thoroughly enjoyed the friendly locals, their music, their dancing and the beer and margaritas! Tapa-Tasting and
seafood paella were more experiences on our list of must-dos and of course watching the flamenco show. Exhausting to watch let alone participate but such amazing energy and rhythm. El Born has an 'old town' feel with museums, art and culture everywhere.
The Sagrada Familia was amazing especially the interior. Even thought is a work in progress, it is certainly worth a visit. We definitely were pleased we had booked online to avoid the queues and once inside, it was quite magical.
Park Guell and Gaudi's house were little difficult to access especially as booking the time slots so they coincided proved quite tricky. We ended up taking a taxi to get there in time but then lost our way back down to the hop on/hop off bus stop. We were pleased we had taken the taxi as it was quite a hike up a steep hill in the hot sun just to get to the entrance let alone further into the park itself. I would recommend being very careful when booking time slots so you don't have to return at a later time to get into the monuments zone. By the time we booked there were limited
timeslots left. We made that mistake but being flexible is all part of the fun of travelling. Part planning, part spontaneous and enjoy the serendipitous moments.
We walked Las Ramblas to enjoy the atmosphere. No trouble with pickpockets even though we were quite wary due to the various warnings and advice we had received. The high presence of police was comforting and obviously acts as a deterrent in this area.
Barcelona is a great city with museums and art galleries. We were very happy with our choice of locality and it was also very close to the local train station when it was time to move to the main Sants station to continue our journey onwards to Carcassonne by train.
Adios Barcelona - Bon jour Carcassonne.
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