Tapas, fiesta, playas, sangria, sol, batatas bravas, Gaudi, La Rambla, Placa Reial, Placa Catalunya…. Yes, good guess! I am in Barcelona, Spain.
As ridiculous as it might sound, I have been to Portugal about 5 times and not once to Spain. My friends laughed at me when I tell this fact. Anyhow, I made it this time, like a proper stay.
There is so much to tell about this country from the northern part to the southern Andalucian how much it can be different. But First, let me share my travel experiences and the places I have been in the city of Barcelona.
Things to do in Barcelona:
Las Ramblas was definitely one of my favourite walks while visiting the city. It is a pedestrian street full of shops on both sides, cafe terraces and with small streets connected to it. Las Ramblas is the main street so expect it to be very crowded. Certainly worth having a ramble down Las Ramblas.
Barceloneta Beach is definitely not the quiet place in the world. This beach during summer time is crowded like crazy, but hey! you go to Barcelona to socialize, meet people and party right? Then, the Barceloneta beach is perfect also a great location for sunset watching. However, the struggle is to find a spot where you can put your towel and lay down. Once this mission is accomplished you can now start to enjoy your beach day. A little annoying I would say are the guys walking on the beach selling fresh Mojitos cocktails and beer. They are constantly around and they can be very loud and pushy. The rest, all is great it’s Barcelona!
After beach time, our ritual was to stop at a tapas bar have Sangria and batatas bravas, Basic! Barcelona is all about the gastronomic restaurants. Tapas whether it is hot or cold, Mediterranean cuisine, Catalan cuisine, Paella, seafood platters in Placa Reial surrounded by terraces to enjoy the atmosphere and its live music bars. You also have nightclubs within the Gothic Quarter.
Antoni Gaudi work of Art – Get to know about Antoni Gaudi’s and his three most famous work of Architecture; La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and Casa Batllo. This guy was a genius and all geniuses are a little crazy especially when Eusebi Guell told him that he had no limits and he could design whatever he wanted. This is how La Sagrada Familia church was made.
Well, all over Spain, something that you might not be aware of because I did not know either, is all of the tourist activities and attractions entrances are limited. What I mean by this is that Park Guell, for instance, was the first work by Antoni Gaudi we wanted to visit. We went on to the location, looked for the ticket office and to our surprise all tickets were sold and had to wait for the next batch, which would have been 5 hours later. How it actually works is that either you come early, as the Park opens or the smartest way is to buy your entrances tickets online (which of course we did not know). Unfortunately, since we had a tight schedule and other places to visit too we opted for the skip the line tickets, a guided tour agency from which you can buy tickets for instant entrance. The only thing is that it is 4 times the price of the regular ones but you have a guide to walk you through and explain to you the eccentric Gaudi work of art and his extraordinary mind which of course you would not know if you were to buy regular tickets and just walk through the Park. (same applies for Sagrada Familia and Alhambra in Granada)
You can grab your ticket online including a professional guide on this link: https://www.getyourguide.co.uk/
The Boqueria Market is one of the emblematic points of Barcelona and one of the main attractions of La Rambla. Currently La Boqueria Market occupies more than 300 stalls where you can find: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, sweets, local specialities and some tapas bar within the Market.
Nightlife In Barcelona – Get ready to sweat and leave your heels at home – a pair of converse and broken jeans are a must. People travel to Barcelona for THE Fiesta; birthday celebrations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, friends reunions, it tells you a lot already. So here is a list of the hot clubs to go while in the city:
Mojito Club, Pacha, Shoko Club, Opium, Sala Apolo for Nasty Mondays and other clubs for underground and deep music. Check online for parties and concert going and also to put you on the guest list for the night and avoid queueing up to get in.
After Fiesta in Barcelona, trust me you will find some time for a siesta as well.
A quick feel of Andalucia in Barcelona?
If you do not have time to visit southern Spain with its Andalucian gastronomy and culture, then Tablao Flamenco Cordobes restaurant is a perfect option with a first-class flamenco show. The restaurant has a privileged view of La Rambla and the decoration is amazing. Tablao Flamenco Cordobes design is a reproduction of the Nazari Palace, the famous Alhambra in Granada.
The restaurant offers dishes as well as drinks, which are included without limitation.
Road Trip to Andalusia
After 3 intense nights spent in Barcelona, our plan initially was to fly to Seville. Last minute we decided to change the plan because we love adventure and we were looking for additional fun. We decided to go to Sixt and rent a car for a memorable road trip to the southern part, Andalusia.
Our first stop to the way down was in Valencia. I am sure this city has a lot to offer but we only spent one night in this city. One thing I can tell for sure that Valencia is internationally known for seafood paella.
After Valencia, we moved to the next one, province of Alicante and we stopped at Calpe Town. I strongly disagree with people who say that there is nothing to see in this coastal town. It certainly made me appreciate the ingenuity of people, mostly local. Sure very few of them speak English but this place is so authentic that it gave me some kind of serenity. Not to mention the beauty of this little coastal town; its beaches the main one being Arenal-Bol and nearby is the Roman site, Baños de la Reina, with rock-cut sea pools great for a swim. If you have the soul of an adventurer, then hike the Penon de Ifach high of 332 meters (also known as the Calpe Rock) and enjoy amazing views from Serra Gelada all the way to Punta de Moraira.
Definitely going back to Calpe soon to enjoy the Spanish authenticity.
Also, the take a stroll in the Spanish street Old Town of Calpe. The narrow streets are so beautiful and magical. I accidentally stumbled on these stairs which are quite famous in the town. About 10 mins away by car are the Muralla Roja, the iconic castle-like building by the modern Spanish Architect Ricardo Bofill.
The Andalusian territory consists of 8 provinces in the south of Spain: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville.
In Spain, where the Andalusians (Moors) were dominant between 8th and 15th century. The Moors legacy can still be found, the surviving examples are La Mesquita Mosque in Cordoba, and the Alhambra Palace in Granada as well as the Giralda in Seville.
Moorish architecture characteristics can be recognised by horseshoe arches, decorative honeycombs vaults called Muqarnas and domed ceilings. Surfaces are often painted over with flowing arabesque, geometric design and decorative calligraphy and some of their moors traces also feature decorative glazed tile work.
The Province of Almeira.
Time to hit the road again, this time to Almeira. This province is a true slice of Spain that remains untouched by the mass tourism. The way to Almeira the landscape is quite particular, you are in the middle of a semi-arid desert, the famous Tabernas Desert (see photo) where legendary movies have been filmed there like:
Lawrence of Arabia (1962), A Fistful of Dollars (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Trinity is Still My Name (1971), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and more recently, the colossal Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). The main reason is the desert’s resemblance with the deserts of America’s Far West.
Visit Fort Bravo, a film village located near a canyon, and you will feel like you have moved back in time. This village is one of several that were built in the Tabernas Desert to make it look like the Old West. After the end of the filming, the villages remained, and nowadays, they offer experiences every cowboy would want to live, like visiting the saloon or attend a duel between the sheriff and the villain. Thrilling isn’t it?
Book a guest house in the surroundings to proper discover what Almeira has to offer. About an hour drive from the Province of Ameira, is the Mojacar Pueblo town, a beautiful whitewashed mountain village on a rocky hillside watching over the Meditteranean sea.
The Province of Granada
Back on the road, now we are heading to the next province, Granada (meaning pomegranate)
What else to do in Granada?
All my travel bookings were done with my favourite travel agency “Itineris Travel” Flight and Hotel booking https://www.facebook.com/itinerisyourtraveldesigner/