I wanted my travel posts to come to an end once summer was over, but I’ve found myself reminiscing this week about my trip to Barcelona. It was a while ago, 2006 to be exact, but it’s always fresh in my memory because it was such a good trip! I’ll be sharing a lot of photos in this post – just holiday snaps.
We had planned the trip about three months in advance. It was meant to celebrate Alex’s 40th birthday. I asked him where he wanted to go and he could have chosen anywhere in the world, but he chose Barcelona for a specific reason. My sister was going to be there on her 30th birthday at the end of August that year. It was one of the stops on a cruise she was taking with my parents and he said it would be fun if we were there on that day. That’s the kind of unselfish man he is. He could have literally picked anywhere, but he chose there so that everyone could celebrate together. That’s why I love him.
I booked through a price comparison site and we flew on Globespan, who now no longer exist. Did they go bust or did they get taken over by someone else? I can’t even remember now. Jet2 have pretty much taken their place now. There are still plenty of price comparison sites around that you can use, like On The Beach, which is the one I use whenever I’m planning a trip these days. All in, the trip cost around £300 for three nights. Remember, this was back in 2006 so it’s probably much higher than that now.
I’ve shared some pictures taken on the balcony of the hotel where we stayed. I’m usually pretty good at remember hotel names, but this was in 2006 and it’s escaped me. I looked in my old Hotmail emails to find out but I’ve deleted all the correspondence. It was central and had some good views. The balcony was certain pretty and one of the things we loved was how different the architecture was to what we saw in Scotland on a daily basis.
Being August, it was still really hot when we visited. It was different to anywhere else we had been because it was like one huge carnival. It’s all about the tourism – and making money. We did venture outside of the tourist areas on our last day, to send a postcard, but we found that the city had a completely different vibe away from Las Ramblas. Nobody was smiling, partying, entertaining. Nobody was welcoming or helpful. There are definitely two sides to this city.
We did all the usual touristy things. We travelled on the subway, we watched street entertainers, I had my photo taken with Bart Simpson at one point but I can’t find that one now. We ate and drank…and then we ate and drank a little more. I ate so much cheese on that trip. I think they put it on everything over there. This was back in the days when I had no allergies and I drank alcohol and the whole trip was spent in a happy, beery haze. In fact, a couple of weeks after I returned from this trip, I gave up alcohol for good because it started bringing me out in a rash and making me wheeze. Perhaps that’s why I have such fond memories of the city.
And then there was the obligatory trip to Sagrada Familia. I can’t actually remember why we went there, other than the fact that it’s Barcelona and it’s kind of what you do when you’re in Barcelona, right? It is a beautiful building and there’s some fabulous stained glass windows but other than that, there wasn’t really a lot to say about it. The pictures don’t really do it justice because when you’re standing in front of it, it’s so massive and imposing that it kind of intimidated me. It’s also crazy-busy so if you have a moment of reflection or deep spirituality, it’s quickly interrupted by someone pushing you or asking you to move so they can take a photo. That’s expected at tourist destinations though.
Yes, one of the highlights of the trip was spending a day with my family. My sister didn’t know we were coming and it was a total surprise to her. We met on the steps of the Columbus Monument and snuck up on her. It was a lovely surprise for her 30th birthday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t reciprocated for my own 30th birthday but it’s still a beautiful memory.
Barcelona remains one of my favourite places in the world and I would love to go back. The last time I was there was a year after this trip, just for a day, and I was disappointed to see that my favourite pizza restaurant in Las Ramblas, Casa Joan, had closed. I didn’t have any Estrella Damm and it was October, so it was much colder. That day didn’t quite have the same vibe, but it didn’t spoil my memories of the beautiful, romantic city I fell in love with. One day I’ll go back. I’m sure of it.