Arriving in Barcelona
We arrived in Barcelona by train from our great discoveries in Granada! Train travel in Spain was fast and a great option to get around. We had travelled from Madrid, to the Costa Del Sol and then to Barcelona by train. It would be a great 5 days exploring Barcelona before we headed off to Italy.
We were getting smart with silly hotel games and were no longer playing. Arriving at 3pm could not really be considered an early check-in. The clerk told us we could have a room on the 3rd floor, but it might be noisy. When we asked for a quieter room, a 90 minute wait would get us on the 5th floor.
Needless to say, the wait did not help our attitude. We checked out this room before even retrieving our bags. The park we overlooked was off in a distance, past the plant equipment and we questioned how quiet it would be. The front desk clerk offered an upgrade and the room on the 20th floor was perfect. Persistence had paid off! This would be a great place to take a civilized breather for 5 days before leaving Spain.
The Gran Hotel Terre Catalunya was located right beside the Sants Metro and train stations. This meant that exploring Barcelona was pretty easy. Line 3 and 5 could get us to most spots or to major transfer points.
David got dinner advice from TripAdvisor. With subway map in hand, we headed off for the reputed ‘Dominos Pizza’ spot by the Parallel stop. I had images of North American Dominos pizza but was wrong. Although it was located down a small side street, the inside was much more inviting. Caprese salad and a great Iberico ham pizza filled the spot.
Walking along the street to the next Metro stop we found a Barcelona version of Moulon Rouge. It came complete with flashing sign. We would later check on show schedules in case we wanted some night entertainment. We also considered a Spanish guitar show. In the end we had no energy for night entertainment beyond our wanderings.
Exploring Barcelona In The Rain
As predicted by the weather network, the next day dawned drizzly and grey. It would give us a bit of a down day to recover. With umbrellas in hand we went in search of a spot for breakfast. We walked out of several that weren’t quite right until we finally settled just to eat. David vowed he would never be in charge of breakfast again after I grumbled my way through yet one more bread breakfast.
Finding the local mercado, we filled up two bags with essentials. A stop at the fruit market and patisserie rounded out our supplies. We would be well hydrated and had picnic supplies for a few days.
When the clouds rolled out, we plotted our Metro route to start exploring Barcelona with some interesting shopping. After heading in the wrong direction (it was a 50/50 guess), we got ourselves turned back around and again struggled to find a spot to eat.
It was now after 3pm and the first spot had run out of most of its menu. The next spot initially caused us to turn around when I was daunted by the Spanish menu. But we managed to get two spots at the bar and successfully point our way for tapas choices. Everything was great and again this tapas experience was far better than all other dining choices.
The used stuff store provided David with shopping heaven. He hummed and hawed over 10€ watches, finally finding one that met his approval. At 9€, it was even a bargain over the 15€ Internet price. Next we found the store we had targeted. It providing us with acres and acres of gadget goods to choose from. Some interesting stuff but our bulging suitcases had no room even for bargains.
By the time we arrived back at the hotel, the dark clouds had again set in. This gave us an early night to picnic in our room. There would be no more exploring Barcelona that night.
The morning was chillier than we had yet seen but the rain had moved off. We walked quickly across the square to warm up. Walking the long tunnel walk to our Metro platform sweated us up completely. We were on our way to our first stop on our tour of Anton Gaudi’s Barcelona.
No trip exploring Barcelona is complete without a stop at the Sagreda Familia church to see this great work of art in progress. Each trip to Barcelona we have made has revealed more of the church finished – scheduled completion date in the year 2026. Defeated by the long lines yet again, we could only wander the outside and capture the artistry. This is one attraction you should book tickets for in advance!
The next stop on our Gaudi tour was to see the playful side of Gaudi. We took public transit and finally ended up right where we wanted to be. It was not hard to see we were in the right place, as crowds spilled out of the entrance. There was playful colour everywhere we looked at Parc Guell.
Magic Fountain Light Show
We had time to recover for a few hours before heading out to the Magic Fountain show. The boulevard up to the fountains had smaller fountains guiding the way. Street hawkers spread their wares, with eyes peeled. They were ready to run at the first sight of policia.
Finding a ledge overlooking the fountains we spread out our picnic, complete with sangria in a plastic bottle for a romantic date night. It was a clear and temperate night,drawing out crowds of tourists and local families. We sat through a couple of shows.
We were awed by the array of fountain action and colour that could be mixed to pulse to the music. Moving closer for the final show ensured we got good pics to share. This would be a regular stop for any visit exploring Barcelona.
Day Trip to Montserrat
The next day we took the train to Montserrat. It was great to head into the mountains so close to Barcelona. We ventured ever higher to see the monastery and then the great views at the top.
Having stopped on the way back for dinner, we settled in for an early night. Slipping down into the extra long tub, my muscles groaned with relief.
As we sat quietly catching up on pics and journalling, we finally realized that the flashes and bangs we were hearing out our window were fireworks. We were treated to two different very impressive light shows from our room window.
Barcelona Beaches by Bike
We lounged in bed the next morning before heading out to enjoy the beach in Barcelona. We tried 3 spots before we found a bike rental spot at Barcelonetta beach that had electric bikes. I was willing to explore but I could use a little extra power to help me make some distance. We ultimately found an eBike very much like the great Pedego eBike I bought when I got home. This would be a different mode of exploring Barcelona.
The main beach at Barcelonetta was busier and much livelier than the other beaches given it’s position so close to town. The bike paths were plentiful and generally easy to follow. Despite the bike paths being well marked and a serious presence in Barcelona, not all people respected the paths. Several times I found myself veering off for those oblivious to the fact that this was not a strolling path.
We went past several beaches until we hit Mar Bella. This was our target spot since it was claimed to be the naked beach. It was not hard to see we had found the right spot when I saw several men standing naked and proud on the surf line. Locking our bikes, we went down the path and picked our spot on the side of the path that was clearly textile free.
On the other side we saw those who might toy with toplessness or bare their butts in the water. On our side was the true naked people, although in my immediate viewing area there were only men. We were not sure if this meant we were at a gay end or whether naked men just far outweighed naked women. In either case, it did not stop me from dropping my clothes and finally enjoying the sun all over.
The tourists with cameras probably got a show. But not as much as the fully dressed woman got when an obviously well-built guy walked right up to her and past. Not sure if the nakedness or the jewelry would have freaked her out more. She was not so shocked though to miss getting a full rear shot of him after he passed. We half figured that was his intention.
We enjoyed the sun. It was certainly a different way of exploring Barcelona. When we started to worry about sunburned private parts, we packed up to ride back. Once underway, we realized how far out we had come. My biking muscles were weak. Even with power assisted bikes, I knew that my butt and legs would feel the workout the next day.
Barcelona From The Water
After returning the bikes we wandered around the downtown area. No visit to Barcelona is complete without a stop at La Boqueria market. It was a great place to fill up on snacks for later. Some were healthier than others!
We walked along the pier to stretch out our muscles and enjoy the sights of Barcelona’s waterfront. We wondered if the statue of Columbus really pointed to America.
We got drawn in to the sunset catamaran tour, even though we knew that we would return before we really saw sunset from the water. Declining to join the silly people on the front netting, we found a wind protected spot to enjoy the views. We would be joined over the sail by those who had mis-judged how much fun the front would be, even fortified by Cava.
The weather was hazy so we really didn’t get a great view of Barcelona. But it was a nice way to finish our day, exploring Barcelona from the sea. We marvelled at how much of the vista we had actually travelled.
Last Day in Barcelona
On our last morning, David went out with the laundry bag and map in hand. We would replenish our supply of clean clothes for the last time before home. I packed and put together our lunch picnic complete with beer and sangria. Leaving our bags at the hotel still left us encumbered with a few bags with our valuables. We would be rolling bags to finish our Barcelona exploration.
The last stop on our Gaudi exploration was Casa Batlló. This would give us our view of colourful Gaudi. This house designed for a nobleman and his family provided colourful and artistic touches everywhere you looked.
We wandered down Passeig de Gracia and ended up in Place de Catalunya Sitting enjoying the sunshine, we watched the kids playing with the pigeons. Despite my running through the square, we never managed to get them exited enough to fly away.
We picked up our luggage and transferred to the ferry port. On our first visit exploring Barcelona, we had left by cruise ship. This time we were taking a pubic ferry to Italy.
We knew this crossing would be a very different experience as we watched them load tanker trucks and semis for hours. But it would be another adventure!
Have enjoyed exploring Barcelona? What was your favourite thing to see or do in Barcelona?