Last year I took my Mum and daughter to Barcelona for 8 days of fabulous fun – 1 day in and my bag with ALL money, credit cards, ID cards, phone etc. was stollen!
My hubby then sent over EUR 500 via Western Union and that was it for the rest of the week for all three of us! Fortunately accommodation was already paid for but it was all a real shock for someone used to grabbing plastic fantastic in times of need! We managed to have a brilliant time, each of us came home with two treats, each day we went out for lunch and one day we even took a trip into the mountains!
Here the tips on how to do it:
1) Where to stay:
Try an apartment – or one of the trendy hostels (www.booking.com). I would never have thought of staying at a hostel until one of my former work colleagues (also fan of Barcelona) told me that she always stays in them. Have a look at Catalonia Atenas as an example:
Grocery shop at Centre Commercial Glories. Great for clothes shopping too – but more regular high street brands and not necessarily special boutique finds. This is also a fab area for discovering some of Barcelona’s fabulous modern architecture:
Boutique shopping – for Barcelona original items the best place is La Ribera where you will also find the Museu Picasso. I will have to admit that boutique shopping was not in the budget this visit so am saving this up for when I don’t have to do Barcelona on a Budget 😉
3) Cafes and bars – not to be missed:
Quimet and Quimet – the cutest tapas bar I have ever seen with awesome tapas at fab prices. Note though that it is so small there is standing room only. Also well known to international food critics. Try the smoked salmon tapas topped with yoghurt and truffle honey – after that I had to buy a jar of the honey to take home!
The best and cheapest way to travel longer distances in Barcelona is using the metro and bus network. In travel guides they normally recommend travel passes – but depending on how much you really need them it is much cheaper to buy ten single rides at once and use them as you go.
The easiest way to see the major attractions is via the Barcelona Bus Turistic – this is a cool hop on off bus with free headphones to commentary explaining the cities main highlights whilst driving around.
5) Top things to do:
a) Take a walk down Las Ramblas, making sure you stop and have a good walk through the Las Ramblas Market en route.
b) Visit at least one of the main Gaudi architectural wonders: La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, Basilica Sagrada Familia, or Park Guell. If you see huge crowds waiting to get in the trick is not to worry, have a drink and then go again – especially just around 2pm you often find that they may not be a queue at all!
c) Walk along the Seafront – stop at one of the many bars for a drink or light snack. See the fabulous sandcastles and modern architecture.
5) Escape the city for a day!
One of the most fabulous things we did was take the train and go to the Montserrat Benedictine monastery. You don’t need a tour. Montserrat (“serrated mountain”) is an hour’s journey by FGC train from Barcelona’s Placa d’Espanya station. Take the R5 line in the direction of Manresa. The train departs about every hour. Click here for more information about how to get there etc.
If you do go – have a fab time but please leave any LV bags at home and be very careful with your belongings!
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