There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.
– Antoni Gaudi
Another trip that almost wasn’t…
The day after the office Christmas party is never a good idea to fly, let alone at 7.30am. Still this is do-able if you catch the last tube home, which I fully intended to do, that is, until I didn’t, and many happy drinks later, it was 4am, almost 5am by the time I rocked on home and put on my pyjamas and jumped into bed! At least I’d had the foresight to tell Smitty that I hadn’t set an alarm, and she should ensure I get to the airport in time – so foolishly trusting we are when inebriated! For some reason, I awoke with a start, and a quick glance at my phone confirmed my worst fears – 2 missed calls from Smitty, and my plane was leaving in 1.5hrs! Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been a problem, except it would take 1hr to get there, and I hadn’t finished packing! Suffice to say, I have never known myself to be capable of such speed and agility as I did that morning…
I arrived in Barcelona, at 11am sleepy and extremely hung over. After locating my backpackers, I checked in, and promptly went to sleep. Not the best way to start a holiday, but necessary. I woke up at 5pm, had a bite to eat, 2 panadols, and back to sleep. So day 1 was a complete write off, then enter my partner in crime, Smitty, and the fun began all over again..
The next morning I woke up with a bad headache for my punishment, and hungry as hell, but decided to wait for Smitty, who was due to arrive midday. In the meantime, I decided to wander the infamous La Bouquiera market. Very nicely done, a Foodie’s delight. So much variety, and all beautifully and tantalisingly displayed. By now, I was famished, but still resolved to wait for Smits..
She finally arrived at the hostel, with two strays in tow, whom she had met on the plane. After some quick introductions, we set off to find some food. I was so hungry that I could have eaten McDs, but Smitty’s new found mates didn’t just want Spanish food, they wanted somewhere quaint and off the beaten track. After lots of walking backwards and forwards, I’d had enough, and suggested we eat at the next place we find. After the trials of the morning, a big jug of Sangria was in order. Much to our delight, Smitty’s mates decided to head off on their own mission – phew – so we got another jug of sangria to celebrate! Then onto another favourite pastime, shopping, which is never a good idea after a few drinks. I ended up with a pair of white stilettoes which have not felt the warmth of my feet to this day, 9mths on.
In high spirits, we continued our tour of the neighbourhood tapas bars, paying homage to one and then another, until we finally found ourselves back at our hostel, and promptly collapsed into our beds, only to be rudely awakened by some snotty kids who had a bigger night than us.
The next day was reserved for sightseeing. We couldn’t come all the way to Barca and only report back on the tapas bars and sangria joints, so we got day passes for the tourist bus, and began our whirlwind tour which mostly consisted of Gaudi’s work. For the unenlightened, Antonio Gaudi was a brilliant architect, and used themes from nature to create the most bizarre and beautiful buildings, the best known of which is La Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction for the last 50yrs and will only be completed in 2026. Some of his other works that we were lucky enough to see were Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Park Guell, each more amazing than the one before – what a genius. After lots of sightseeing, and some light refreshments, we headed to the top of Mt Tibidabo for a panoramic view of Barcelona.
The view would have been spectacular had it been sunny, and had I not been freezing, having forgotten my coat in London in my morning rush. Still, it was very pretty, and the quaint old school amusement park added greatly to the ambience. When we got back to the city, the Christmas lights were on and looked great – much better than the Oxford St effort! We strolled around soaking in the atmosphere. Barcelona was alive with Christmas shoppers, aimless wanderers, street bands and more. We discovered another cool tapas bar, and whiled away a few more hours. En route to our hostel, we ambled through the infamous and schizophrenic La Rambla – a busy stall lined street by day, a seedy pick-n-pay, druggie joint by night. Back at the hostel, Smitty was not ready for bed, so under duress, I joined her at the next door bar for a few beers.
The next morning, we wandered around Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter, where we were staying. This place has bucket loads of character, and I highly recommend staying here if ever visiting Barcelona. With its maze of winding lanes, quaint little tapas bar, and cool shops, it’s constantly alive and buzzing with people, and within a stone’s throw of La Rambla. As we wandered the streets we were treated to a procession. It just so happened that Day of Immaculate Conception celebrations were in full swing, and devotees were taking Virgin Mary for a walk. We then headed for the Sagrada Familia which any trip to Barca would be incomplete without… truly a labour of love. After wandering round the Christmas markets, it was time for me to say goodbye to Barcelona, so after the customary jug of Sangria and tapas plate, I headed for the airport, and back to Londres…
.. and so the trip ended as it had begun, fatigued with a massive headache, but tons of fun in between… cheers Smits!