Flying out from Southend Airport to Barcelona meant I caught the early 7.05 am flight, which landed approximately 1 hour 45 minutes later in Barcelona. My independent plans made good use of the train system out of the airport into the city centre.
Tip: It can be a little nerve wracking booking train tickets through the machines but wait until the rush has died down. The ticket machines offer instructions in english. Just remember to keep looking for the sign at the bottom which tells you what kind of money the machine accepts (notes, coins or cards)
With only 4 stops to my destination – this meant I was in the city centre of Barcelona, Spain and standing outside Casa Maca (my pre-booked guesthouse) by 11 am. The guesthouse I booked only took a 39 euro deposit online initially. The rest is to be paid in cash, on arrival. (I paid at the end of my stay.) So although I travelled independently, if my plans needed to change suddenly – I wouldn’t have been out of pocket by too much money.
By 2pm that afternoon I was walking with Victoria Martinez of Barcelona Shopping Scouts into the heart of the Gracia district, as she directed me through the little lanes, and we walked past many tiny little intimate shops, towards the open plazas. Once again – here is the perfect reason to have a personalised tour! If I’m honest I don’t think I would have found it so easily alone. I tried on the Thursday and got ever so lost and I didn’t want to walk around with my map out.
We eventually arrived at Pepa Tomate, which was extremely busy. Victoria explained that lunch in Barcelona started around 13.30 till about 4pm. This restaurant was full of, what looked to me like local people. Families with small children, all chitter chattering away. Fantastic. Victoria ordered, as she did during my whole visit with her and it was lovely to let someone else have control of what I was going to eat. Fish is definately on her menu. At Pepe Tomate, I experienced one of the strangest dishes of my whole time in Barceona but one of Victoria’s personal favourites: Esqueixada de Bacallà – A traditional dish in Catalonia. Which is basically a raw cod salad – served in a glass container with haricot beans, in an olive oil dressing and topped with a frisee salad on top. Victoria picked the dish up and shaking gently mixed the dish. It was then opened and we used our forks to eat the contents. Surprisingly it was yummy. A bit like spanish sushi – I think!
Because the Spanish prefer to eat dinner later, by the time I arrived back at my guesthouse around 5pm, I had some time to make myself a cup of coffee, enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun in the courtyard and sit at my window – watching the world go by. Buses, pedestrians, the little restaurant opening right next door – residents coming home from work.
My evening as a guest of Chef Yves, indulging in one of BonAppetour dine with the locals experiences , had me meeting him at 8pm – I lost my nerve for using the metro at night – which was about 14 stops to where I needed to arrive. If it had been a couple I probably would have given it a go. Barcelona is the city of traffic lights!
By the time we had arrived at his home, prepared and cooked our meal for the evening. Engaging in some wonderful conversation about Spanish – no strike that – Catalonian and English life over the dinner table, I was in my element – their interest in the Scottish referendum for independence, an interesting topic for the people of Catalonia and they wanted to know my opinion as an english woman – which was hell no – don’t go. Lets find a way to give you independence, yet keep you connected. Like a lot of relationships there are both detached or engaged. My preference is always the later! Dinner was on the table around 10.30 pm. The cool breeze on the roof terrace cooled my skin after dinner as I soaked up the twinkling city skyline. I left around 12.
Victoria met me promptly at 10.30am the next morning – if she is to be late she notifies you immediately. So efficient is this Young businesswoman. Our walking tour of the city had began. I still need to tell you about this in greater detail but not today – today is about what you can achieve in a short amount of time in this great city. With Victoria it is an enormous amount of cultural immersion.
6 hours later – Victoria dropped me off at my guesthouse after an amazing afternoon and tour of the Gothic District. I am in awe at her knowledge and sharing of wisdom about this wonderful place. I truly had been transported to Game of Thrones (Yes, I am a fan!)
My evening was spent at Casa Batlló – Modernist Museum – a ten minute walk from Casa Maca. Exploring the magnificent architecture of Antonio Gaudi – whose influence and designs I discovered on the simplest of street corners. Gliding my hands along the staircase handrails, staring up towards the skylight and walking out on the rooftop terrace, I felt priveledged to be here with my little audio guide, sharing with me the story of this magnificently beautiful house.
Walking home, I made my way past the Amsterdam Bar – where my fellow guests had found a little piece of home for the next live football match. I felt safe. There was life still on the street and I was pleased to step into the inviting interior and fall into my double bed (with no surcharge for single occupancy.) With air con blowing to keep me cool for the night, after a warm shower, with very good water pressure, I slept like a baby. My 48 hours in Barcelona, very nearly over.
Waking the next morning around 7 am. I poured a cup of filter coffee in the kitchen. Sat down at the kitchen table with the other guests and chatted about what we had been doing the night before. Everyone was friendly and communicative. Just 48 hours before I stepped on a flight on a misty morning and now here I sat, bathed in sunlight and warmth in the centre of this fascinating Catalonian city.
What great things would you like to do with 48 hours in Barcelona?
As always. I’d love to know your thoughts…