If you're the sort of person who likes a soundtrack to their reading, might I suggest George Ezra's Barcelona while you skim through this?
SO. Barcelona!! It was amazing. Honestly, it's such a wonderful city- if you're looking for somewhere not too terribly far from the UK to explore for a few days, I'd certainly recommend it (though first, go to Guernsey. And then Paris. And perhaps a few other places. But still- Barcelona is well up there).
Mama and I stayed at the NH Calderon- and I would certainly recommend it. Friendly, just luxurious enough, and just a tiny walk from the top of La Rambla, the only time we got the metro was to go to Park Guell and then back down to the beach. The metro is so easy, too- though we decided it was easier to get a taxi in from the airport to the hotel (which cost around 25 euros each way). We did, however, feel that breakfast was wildly overpriced, so didn't pay for it- instead, we bought water and fruit from Carrefour, and popped into one of the many patisseries on Rambla de Catalunya each morning.
We drank a lot of sangria. We ate tapas and paella and montaditos. We walked, and explored, and visited, and shopped, and got a little Gaudi-ed out- but it was so, so worth it.
So- my top tips for Barcelona:
- On a Sunday, make your way to Placa del Pi, and explore around the farmers' market and artists' market- then make sure you're in front of the Cathedral (Placa Nova) to watch the locals dancing in the square. It sounds twee- it isn't. It's wonderful.
- If you don't have time to visit all the Gaudi sites, give La Pedrera a miss. The chimneys (pictured) really are wonderful, it's true- but inside the building is a disappointment, compared to Casa Batllo.
- Always get the audio tour. They really do add so much to your trip, I swear to god.
- Whatever you do, book to go to Sagrada Familia. Don't be a mug stuck in the queue. Book online, skip around to the Nativity facade, show them your ticket on your phone, and feel like the smuggest person on the planet.
- Get the furnicular railway up to Montjuic, and get the cable car to the top- then walk back down to the furnicular. Real haven in the city- beautiful, and relatively few tourists. Another great picnic spot.
- Gabriel in Placeta del Pi does some of the best calamari I've ever tried- and great cheap red wine too.
- Keep an eye on your bag. We didn't have any trouble at all, actually- other than the moron street performer who tried to look up my skirt and made me cry- but everyone says it, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
- Park Guell is well worth the trip- take a picnic, and spend some time. Despite what Lonely Planet says, you will now have to pay to get into the monument section- so go early, get your ticket, and do that first before exploring and chilling in the rest of the park.
I may go into a bit more detail about some of what we did at a later date, but for now? Think that's the bare bones. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip.
Tell me. Have you been to Barcelona? Where should I visit next? I'm thinking Copenhagen. Or maybe a spot of Greek island hopping...