Barcelona is a city which changes with every path that you tread, it's beautiful architecture combined with it's brash bustling walkways creates a city which contradicts itself at every turn, I want to share with you my Spanish adventure to the biggest city I've ever visited.
Our journey started in the Aspire Plus lounge at Newcastle Airport, for £37.49 you can relax in the adults only swish exclusive lounge which offers complimentary food as well as many famous spirits and 3 types of sparkling wine, I'm only ever interested in the Prosecco and knowing how much we would have payed for one single glass out in the departure lounge £37.49 didn't seem too much to pay to get the trip off to the most relaxed start. The platters of cheese and olives and breads mean you step onto the plane having spent nothing extra on food and it means you don't have to worry about a plane sandwich, some of which are not for the feint of heart. Harriet and I both agreed we would be quite happy to pay to start our holidays and long haul business trips off in such relaxing surroundings, airports can be such busy places, overwhelming at times and that's the beauty of Aspire Lounges, of course if you have a family then you can access the Aspire Lounge for just £22.99 with kids being catered for at £16.99 but the Aspire Plus lounge is a luxury for only adults and as a mum of teenagers, I can't even begin to tell you how lovely it is to get away to a cacophony free environment just for a while, no shouting or slamming doors, just bliss and sometimes the sound of silence.
After a journey of around 2.5 hours and a comedy transfer which took forever and could only be described as Faulty Towers does Spanish transfers we finally checked into the 4 star Derby hotel in the business district not far from the Avenue Diagonal which gets it's name from being the only diagonal route and one which runs through the entire length of the city of Barcelona cutting from east to west and at 11k in length it's one of the most important avenues in Barcelona.
The thing about arriving at your destination when it's dark is you can't really get a good feel of your surroundings so after a quick (cheap) dinner at a local Swiss (yes, Swiss!!) restaurant we collapsed into our beds.
We awoke to beautiful, glorious sunshine and stepping out of from the air conditioned hotel was like walking into a wall of heat, not to mention humidity, Barcelona weather hates my hair, remember Monica in Friends when she goes to the Bahamas? Yep, that's me, old frizzy head, no amount of hair straightening made the slightest bit of difference, I'd go out swooshy and come back looking like one of Sister Sledge. I'd also like to mention that all of the images from my trip to Barcelona were shot with the Fuji X70, a staggeringly good compact camera, I first fell in love with the creamy, dreamy image quality of the X-Pro1 and to just take a compact which is at it's heart capable of producing professional quality images even my New York agency are happy with is beyond brilliant. It is of course a compact, it's not a DSLR and that was noticeable to me in some conditions but honestly if you are wondering about which camera you should purchase for travel, the Fuji X70 is definitely my recommendation.
Our first stop on our journey of adventure was picking up a 2 day ticket for the bus turistic (around €40 but if you book online you can get 10% off), I always get the tourist buses in any cities I've not visited because it gives you a great overview of the place you're travelling to and I love that you can get on and off, beware though, tourist buses take time, there are faster routes available!
We got off at Monjuic one of the two mountains Barcelona is nestled amongst, the other being Tibidabo, and we took a ride on the Telerific de Monjuic which takes you right up to the top of the mountain affording you glorious views of the whole of Barcelona, and even from that great height you can still spot the Sagrada de Familia. Climbing back upon board after a wander around the castle we made our way to the famous Ramblas, I have to say that to me Ramblas felt unsafe, maybe because of all of the stories you hear but I found it to be too crowded, tacky and full of tourists, most sites advise that you go once in the day and once in the evening but honestly, of all of the things we did in Barcelona, Ramblas was the place I was least enamoured with. It is what it is though and we made our way up the crowded street popping into the market for just a few moments, again we didn't stay too long as it was overcrowded, perhaps choosing to go out of season would provide time and space to amble throughout the alleys of the Mercat de la Boqueria, a market which is at it's heart a food market for the locals and tourists alike, the wealth of fresh fruits and sweets and spices create a heady aroma which is at times overpowering, like a lot of Barcelona, it's gaudy, it's in your face but if you don't like it, it makes no apologies.
At the bottom of La Ramblas is the Columbus monument, take a trip to the top in a lift (why haven't we thought of this in England I said, I have walked up far too many monuments, wanting to collapse after 300 step ascents, usually much to the amusement of my children) but again you should be aware that if you are not the biggest fan of enclosed spaces then the Columbus monument is not for you. I however love the views from above, I always have, as I've mentioned before, cities are at their most magical when you look at them from above, as the bustling city becomes a colourful landscape of patchwork buildings and tiny trees it's great to take a moment away to just be, to stand at the highest points in cities is to truly live and breathe them.
I feel I could go on, I've so much to tell you, so many wonderful experiences from sunset at Mount Tibidabo to lunch at Pacha on the beach and to the absurdity of the Jamon museum and my new found wonder for the most tasty cones of Iberico Jamon but I'll leave this blog for now and you'll just have to join me on my continuing adventures through a city which at times is it's own antithesis, an oxymoron, a contradiction, for there is nowhere else in the world that's quite like Barcelona.