Barcelona Day 1

I promised after asking for all of your Barcelona tips that I would share what we did on our Babymoon back in March.

We stayed for 4 nights at the RoomMate Emma for about £300 and I would definitely book again. The breakfast was amazing and the staff were lovely too. We were woken up one night by screaming European teens but that can happen anywhere and the reception sorted it straightaway. The room was clean and modern, the only thing lacking was an exterior window. We were offered a very cheap upgrade when we got there which we normally would have taken but figured we wouldn’t be in the room and it wasn’t worth it. In fact I wish we had, as we banked on staying out for evening drinks as we would do normally and felt obliged to because the room was a bit dark, but really given how tiring the sightseeing was, it would have been nice to have some downtime back at the hotel in a slightly nicer room. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still great, cheap or not.

So what did we do?


Our walking tour day 1 – Port Vell, Port Olympica, Barcelonetta, Parc Ciutadella and the beach. Click here to view an interactive version of the map.

Well, the answer is a lot of walking. Normally when we’re on a city break we do everything, but this time we didn’t want to go into museums, enjoying the sunshine instead, so we saw everything from the outside while walking. The first day was predicted to be the best weather, so we got the underground metro to Port Vell and wandered around looking at the boats and enjoying the weather.

We walked though Barceloneta which was cute in parts and quite run down in others so we kept going. It didn’t take us long to get to the beach so and we carried on all the way along until we reached Port Olympic, and then walked on to Parc Ciutadella. The fountains and space there was great. If we hadn’t been going to the beach later I would have parked myself on the grass there to read and enjoy the sun.

By then we were starving and headed onto El Born, where we ate a tapas lunch at one of the places on Placa des les Olles before heading back to the beach where we just lay on the sand for a couple of hours and read. Bliss!

Once we were ready for home, we headed in to the atmospheric gothic quarter and stopped in Placa Reial for a drink. I loved this square – there aren’t that many in Barcelona which are big enough to hold the sun into the evening, particularly in March but this one is so pretty and great for people watching.


I was so exhausted that night after walking so far that we ate at an Italian just down the road from our hotel and collapsed into bed early.

I’ll be back with Days 2 and 3 soon!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Barcelona Babymoon

Next week, Pete and I are off to Barcelona for a bit of a getaway. It’s not really a babymoon but I’m grateful we’re getting some time to ourselves as work plus incessant house worries and a serious lack of holidays was really starting to get to us. We didn’t think we could afford to book something for just us, (as well as the wedding we are going to in Italy in May) but I was determined that we should make the most of the last few months before we are a three. I scouted around for cheap deals and booked some EasyJet flights for £100 each and found a cool looking cheap hotel – Room Mate Emma. We’re both exhausted and just want to chill out, eat nice food, enjoy some sun (fingers crossed!) and walk around taking in the sights, and each other.

So before we go I need your recommendations readers, on things to do and see. All we have in mind so far is The Gaudi Park, (I have been before and seen La Sagrada Familia and the Picasso museum,) but I’d love to hear your restaurant recommendations, cool areas we should experience and relaxing things to do and see. Oh and I’d like to go down to the waterfront too.

Let me have it readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS, I’ll review the hotel and where I go afterwards, of course!

Girl About Town Gets Out of Town: Barcelona

This year the Mr and I have spent all of our annual leave on attending 10, yes, ten, weddings (two of which were/are aboard) and all the corresponding stag and hen weekends. As such we didn’t have much leave left for a “proper” holiday. Or, more importantly, any money with which to purchase one! This left us in a bit of a quandary as taking time out to go exploring around the world is kind of our thing. Also, with such busy lives (as we all have) often, a holiday is the only time you get to truly spend QT with each other… and catch up on your sleep debt! So what to do, what to do?

Well Mr G thought we could cope until 2014. I vehemently disagreed and set about finding a cheap and cheerful (but still up to Florence Findette standards!) mini-break that:

  1. Started and ended with convenient flights at civilised times from one of our closer airports (Stansted, City or Southend),
  2. Was close enough that we didn’t waste too long on the plane,
  3. Had enough to “do” to keep us out of mischief but also not so much that we felt guilty if we wanted to chill out and ignore all the culture and sights
  4. Would be achievable within Mr G’s set of rest days between shifts.

Tricky.

After a long process of elimination we finally settled on Barcelona when I found super-convenient flights with EasyJet from Southend, at the civilised time of 9.30am on a Monday morning.

I’d been before, and enjoyed it but I wasn’t as excited about it as everyone else seemed to be, so I’ve spent the last seven years wondering what I missed and wanting to return! Also, Mr G hadn’t had the pleasure so it was decided. Barcelona it was.

The Hotel

I found the Melia Sky hotel on Mr and Mrs Smith, did a quick search and found it at a lower rate on Expedia with the flights in a package so it actually came out as a bit of a bargain. Shop around people, shop around!

The hotel is cool, modern, clean, funky in style, full of nice quirky touches and, although I normally try to get out of the hotel when I’m away and discover new places, I found it actually quite a nice place to hang out.

NB: Be careful not to book the Melia Hotel! The Melia Sky is the one you want – it’s the one with the outdoor swimming pool. We made this mistake and had to hastily re-book. Be warned!

Highlights included the light and airy rooms with floor to ceiling windows looking out to sea, the swimming pool area on the 7th floor roof terrace, which had just enough of a “cool kids pool-party” vibe about it to keep it young and fun (but not so much that I couldn’t just chill out like a grown up and read my book*), the bespoke scent that was piped in to all the public areas (similar to Jo Malone wild fig and cassis I think) and a lobby/lounge/bar area with apothecary jars full of flumps, complete with flump tongs! You can take the girl out of Essex but…

It’s slightly out of the way from the busier parts of the city, in a residential area but it’s only a short walk from the Metro station so within ten minutes you can be in Port Olimpic or on Las Ramblas. My only criticism would be the price of breakfast (if not included in your package), but we took ourselves out wandering most mornings in search of food and so managed to save ourselves over €40 a day by eating in little cafes nearby.

Where to eat, drink and people watch…

On our first night we followed what felt like a thousand tour groups to Las Ramblas to look for something to eat. We thought it would be a bad idea, but we went with it anyway. After negotiating hordes and hordes of tourists fighting for jugs of cheap sangria, we eventually found somewhere to eat, just off the main strip in Placa Reial called Ocana we ordered waaaay too much tapas and some yummy pink mojitos (served in jam jars) and sat back to people-watch on the square. All of a sudden it dawned on me that was the exact place we’d spent our first night the last time I visited the city. I must have been drawn to it!

Thereafter we stayed out of the main city and ate at various places in Port Olimpic. Much like a book and it’s cover, you shouldn’t judge a bar or restaurant by its décor, but most of the time I’m drawn to the prettiest ones in the street. Along this strip you are spoilt for choice with gorgeous eateries and drinking establishments ranging from the super-modern full of white sofas, mirrored surfaces and candles to rustic al fresco parlours on wooden decking where you eat in amongst tubs of herbs and spices.

This strip is bustling with beautiful people, in beautiful bars, drinking beautiful cocktails along the beach-front promenade. I’d recommend Gallito and Bestial for food, and Opium for cocktails and lounging early on and then posing and dancing later in to the night. I also heard great things about Shoko and the rooftop bar of the W Hotel.

What we did…

Chilled! With a capital *chuh*.

We made a lame attempt at sightseeing by jumping on one of those open-topped tourist buses, briefly stopping by the Sagrada Familia and in Parc Guell, but we got sidetracked by the beach front bars full of squishy couches, extensive cocktail menus and the prospect of lazy sun-drenched people watching and gave up our tickets.

So that brings me to my next point: Who has some recommendations? Bars, restaurants, sights, getting away from the tourist traps… leave a comment and share your Catalonian secrets!

Victoria x

*ironically not a grown up book, but some awfully addictive YA fiction. Best we steer well clear of this topic eh Mahj and Becca? 😉

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

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