To paraphrase one famous movie hero, we can say “who has not been to Barcelona – has not seen beauty.” Barcelona in late spring, like any tourist city in the non-tourist season, is something special. Pleasant weather is conducive to long walks, tourists have not yet had time to fill all the significant sights, and in this regard, prices in cafes, shops and souvenir shops are still within reasonable limits. So if swimming and tanning are not the first item on your vacation plans, then spring Barcelona is what you need.
Day one: arrival
Flights with a stopover, of course, take much more time than direct flights, but often turn out to be significantly cheaper. So it happened in this case – an Aeroflot flight with a transfer in Moscow, bought 3 months before the trip (14,500 rubles in both directions for one person), as well as the apartments booked in advance through booking.com, significantly save on the trip. Weekly rent stood at 16,400 rubles. The apartment was chosen deliberately, because until that moment I had no such experience – I wanted to try to cook something on my own from Spanish products – fish and seafood.
At about noon we landed at Barcelona airport, and quickly, having received our luggage, rushed to check in to the apartment. Instead of apartments for two, we got apartments for six (4 bedrooms + living room + kitchen). The secret of such a gift was revealed only on the 3rd day of our stay – on the eve of our arrival there was Catholic Easter, there was a large influx of tourists and our room was rented out to someone else, and we got a huge apartment.
Barcelona greeted us with cloudy weather and a temperature of +13. Locals in such weather wear warm jackets, leather boots and wrap themselves in scarves
And I felt comfortable in one T-shirt – this is what the Ural hardening means – by our standards, this is almost a cool summer.
Since there was no transfer, as such, the destination was reached by a special bus running from the airport to the city center, and then by metro almost to the hotel for about 30 minutes with three transitions on different lines.
By the way, at first glance, the streets of Barcelona seem even more complicated and confusing than in the same Paris; there are sloping intersections everywhere, most likely in order to somehow increase parking spaces, including for numerous motorcyclists. In most cases, the right lane is reserved exclusively for buses and taxis (and its really do not take even in case of a traffic jam), so you can get around by buses and taxis quickly and comfortably. We moved either on foot or by metro, which is also very convenient. The prices for the metro are as follows: one trip 2 €, 10 trips – 10, the savings, unlike our e-card, are significant.
Having quickly settled in, we went to survey the surroundings – the apartments are located next to Hospital de Sant Pau,
and going down a little, you can see everything in the Sagrada de Familia construction cranes.
Day two: Ramblas and the harbor
Even on weekdays, a lot of people walk along the Rambla: the vast majority, tourists, of course. Rambla made the impression on me that he is like a patchwork quilt – in one place there are open-air cafes, in another there are florists, at the end, closer to the harbor, there are famous living sculptures
For a small fee of one or two euros, any sculpture either “comes to life” or performs some kind of action – our Columbus depicted the scene of the discovery of America and shouted something about “tyerru “…
The characters are mostly Spanish character. We also saw Don Quixote on a horse in a black robe, which jumped up when they put a coin – it looks very funny.
Rambla Boulevard smoothly flows into the pier with numerous boats standing there, some tourists sunbathe under the warm rays directly on wooden boards; swimming at this time of the city is still a little cool, although the water is amazingly clear, shoals of fry and fish are visible.
Along the Rambla there are cafeterias, restaurants, hotels, shops and pastry shops, as soon as the desire arises – you can sit down and drink coffee in the same Starbucks for just a few euros, you can buy fresh flowers or seeds with seedlings, or drink water from the famous cast-iron fountain to “Anyone who drinks the water from this fountain will fall in love with Barcelona and come back here again.”
A bag of half a dozen gladioli bulbs for only 2 € will be a great gift for gardeners, and you can buy chocolate and sweets in pastry shops.
The marina with an old sailboat is a very romantic place:
The pier is located near the bridge, which will lead to a large mall with shops, cinemas and an oceanarium. Here you can buy clothes or shoes, eat ice cream, go to the movies to practice your Spanish – there will be no dubbing in Russian.
On the way back, we stumbled upon a huge agricultural market, where all the edible riches of the city of Barcelona are presented in abundance: fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, jamon in various variations – sliced and whole legs, fish and seafood, ready-made semi-finished products and fresh baked goods. The prices, as it seemed to me, are very high – chicken fillet 11 €, fruits and wine – cheaper: wine from 2 € per bottle, strawberries 2.5 € per pound.
There we bought two of some kind of fish, a cross between a flounder and a stingray, all attempts to find out what kind of fish were unsuccessful, but fried in olive oil were very tasty.
Day three: Park Guell and the aquarium
The third day began with a hike to Park Guell – the famous huge park in the upper part of Barcelona, created by Gaudi at the very beginning of the 20th century. We got to the park on foot, so the 40 minutes uphill turned out to be quite tiring; the park itself can be reached, as it turned out, by buses. The park itself amazes the imagination with its indirect and curved structures, which, contrary to all common sense, stand perfectly and do not think to fall. Numerous paths through here and there already flowering trees and shrubs lead to the mountain at the highest point of the park, from where a stunning view of Barcelona opens up, it took about time to walk through the park until lunch: here is the famous curved mosaic bench, and a gingerbread house and a cafe and souvenir shops. Locals here go for hiking and cycling, although running uphill and downhill is very tiring, and cycling is also extreme.
It should be noted that in Barcelona there is complete order with bicycles – there are many autonomous bicycle parking lots, where you can rent a bicycle for little money and roll it along the numerous bike paths, without interfering with either cars or pedestrians. You can also rent your bike, in the sense that you can park it at any point.
There is also a roofless double-decker tourist bus that runs around the city and you can hop on and go around the main attractions of Barcelona.
Separately, it should be told about the restaurants and cafes of Barcelona. It seemed to me that catering places can be divided into two categories – cafes and restaurants. The division will be solely by price category and interior furnishings. Spanish cuisine is not as sophisticated as that of the French. A typical example of the cuisine is numerous sandwiches and fries with a piece of meat. At the same time, the quality of the food does not depend on the category of the place you choose. So, in a restaurant it can be very not tasty and expensive, at the same time in a cafe you can taste a large frying pan of paella for only 7 € – 11 €. There is also a category of bars that look about the same – this is a narrow room with a counter and a couple of tables with very affordable prices, but you need to go to dine where the locals themselves go to dine – and delicious and inexpensive guaranteed.
The Barcelona Oceanarium is great fun for both children and adults; a large number of exotic fish, rays and even sharks. At the entrance they give a booklet (in Russian) and take pictures, at the exit there are a lot of impressions and a finished photo for 5 €. A visit to the aquarium itself will cost about 23 € per adult (children under 5 years old are free).
Day four: Cadaques and Empuriabrava
On the fourth day, we decided to leave hospitable Barcelona and go east along the coast to the city of Cadaques and Empuribrava in a rented Smart. The total length of the route in one direction is about 170 km.
It was not possible to go completely along the coast, because the navigator in Spanish took me from the free road near the sea to the toll highway, which practically rested on the border of France, the weather was extremely rainy, and the road did not bring much pleasure. The toll highway from Barcelona to the French border cost about 23 €. The road is as smooth as a mirror, 4 lanes in one direction and a limit of 120 km / h. Gasoline approximately 1.5 € per liter.
The path to Cadaques lies through mountains and a serpentine road that ends in a small town with a white church and a river that flows right along one of the streets of the city. At this time of the year, there are practically no tourists here, since the sea is cold and you cannot swim yet. We bought a couple of postcards, wandered around the town for half an hour and back to Barcelona through the serpentine road and mountains drowning in clouds.
We returned to Barcelona after dark, around 9 pm, and the worst thing was that it was almost impossible to park for free near the apartment. After three laps around the block, I still managed to squeeze into a free parking lot not far from the apartment. And the next morning, through traffic jams, I had to go to hand over the car – a difficult task even with my almost 10 years of driving experience in Yekaterinburg, which was further complicated by the fact that the signs and the navigator contradicted each other several times. Therefore, instead of the calculated 20 minutes, a practical hour was spent. A day of renting a car of such class as Smart with insurance will cost about 60 €, which is about 1.5 times more expensive than in Greece
Day five: rainy shopping
There is no better weather for shopping than a drizzling rain from time to time. There are so many shopping centers in Barcelona, and the density is so high that it is impossible to get wet even in the pouring rain. The beauty of overseas shopping is that you can not only buy very inexpensive quality items, but also return tax free when you return to Russia (from 90 €)
From Spain you can bring a lot of edible and inedible food – a bottle of wine, sherry or cava (lightly carbonated wine) (from 2 €), jamon (from 1 € per 100 grams), sweets (from 12 €), clothes, shoes of Spanish brands. And a variety of souvenirs for friends in the form of postcards, magnets or figurines.
There are a lot of mosaic souvenirs in Park Guell, lizards of different sizes (from 6 €), mugs (from 5 €), T-shirts (from 10 €).
In Barcelona, we fell in love with the geyser-type coffee pot. Of course, these are sold here, but in this case we will remember that we bought it in sunny Barcelona.
On the street where our apartment was located, we came across a shop with ethnic music goods. The seller was a true Indian, and his collection of instruments ranged from classical Spanish guitars, harmonicas and banjos to exotic African drums.
Day six: Rambla and the old town
The last day of the vacation turned out to be very warm and sunny, and also a little hectic. We need to get ready and buy some souvenirs. Therefore, from the very morning there was a walk along the Rambla and the old city with a visit to the Cathedral of Barcelona
On a sunny April day, the Rambla is filled to the limit, it reminds me of our demonstrations in May. Tourists, including children, walk up and down in chains, while the locals, who sit and bask on the benches, drink coffee and read the latest newspapers.
Despite the changeable weather, the week passed like one day. Definitely, Barcelona is a city to return to.
Photos from the trip can be viewed here