By Melissa Moreno
On October 18th of 2014 I stopped in Barcelona Spain for a few days before visiting Paris for the second time. I didn’t know what to expect on this trip, I had only visited Rome and Paris before and I knew that larger more crowded cities were a little more difficult for me to navigate. Don’t get me wrong, Rome is beautiful, but it is one of the biggest tourist locations in Europe and I get overwhelmed with large crowds. After this experience I then decided I would not visit Europe unless it was off season even though it may be a little cooler than usual. The upside of traveling in the off season is that prices are usually cheaper for airfare, hotels and tours. These perks can also be to the advantage of the budget traveler.
My experience with Barcelona was that it is very much a city I can only do in small doses. I have received different reviews from people who have been to Barcelona, most who enjoyed the city had locals show them around town and gave them the inside scoop on popular and trendier places to visit. Don’t let my discomfort off crowds discourage you from visiting this beautiful and hip city! Barcelona is a city that has much to offer its tourist, from breathtaking views to a fun night life. It is definitely a city for the topless sangria drinking foodie. Here are a few things I did enjoyed about Barcelona:
The Topless Barcelona Beaches.
Barcelona’s beaches brings in 3.5 million tourist every years, making it one of the biggest attractions of the city. You will not regret spending some time on Barcelona’s beaches if the opportunity arises. Along the beach you will see restaurants called “chiringuitos” that throw beachside parties lasting late into the night . Bike riders, runners and volleyball players flock to the beach on weekends to exercise and work on their tan lines with a captivating ocean view. Here you will find a list of the top ten beaches in Barcelona.
The free spirited bohemian nature of Barcelona is what makes its beaches so appealing and unique. Taking your top off at the beach is considered normal and most beaches are in fact topless. There is something very freeing about taking your top off in the middle of a beautiful place and not caring what anyone thinks. So, if you have never taken that top off in a topless beach, I recommend you do it at least once during your lifetime, it feels liberating and I would definitely do it again!
Having Coffee On The Balcony of My Hotel.
Being in a far away place with a cup of coffee in my hand is probably one of the nicest feelings of being alive. Because coffee and traveling are two of a few of my favorite things in the world, this combination together can cause an explosion inside of me. When I combine these two things and add a balcony into the equation it is a feeling of perfect bliss. Sometimes a quiet coffee moment is needed after a long day of site seeing or before heading out on an excursion.
Our Hotel in Barcelona.
The Hotel Lloret Ramblas is an economically priced and was centrally located to restaurants, the beach, bus stops and was right on top of a gelato shop. Our hotel stay included a continental breakfast that consisted of lots of meat, cheese, fruit and yummy coffee. The hotel had a group of friendly staff which were also helpful when it came to giving us tips of things to do around town. We were also able to book inexpensive tours right in the reception area with the help of staff . Our room was spacious, had lots of windows, two balconies, a great view of the city and four individual beds for $100 per night. I would definitely recommend this cute hotel for the budget or adventure traveler!
Enjoying the Street Art in Barcelona.
Barcelona has been well known for its street art since prior 2003. As I walked around the streets of Barcelona I realized that this form of artistic expression was quite unique in this city. I was quickly drawn to a few pieces I saw while exploring town and later decided to research what the art scene had been like in the past .
Barcelona government laws became more restrictive on street art in 2005 and began to crack down on graffiti art. They began to paint over graffiti art as well as fine anyone who allowed art on their building and the street artist. Street artist began to use a different method of creating art; they first created the art on paper and then pasted it on the walls, making it easier to apply on the walls as well as remove it. The documentary, Las Calles Hablan does a good job of documenting the artists perspective of street art and their struggles with a restrictive government. This beautiful picture perfectly depicts an old town with a modern twist, I was completely blown away when I saw this beautiful wall ! Eccentric Barcelona life will definitely bring many surprises and impress you simultaneously.
- Sangria, Sangria and More SangriaBecause sangria is the signature drink of Spain you will see it in almost every restaurant and bar of Barcelona. I had the best tasting Sangria on this trip to Barcelona, and ordered it as much as I could. It was refreshing and pairs well with almost any meal. If you are unable to travel to Spain this year making your own sangria at home is easy, fast and makes the perfect party drink. Here is a link of the top five sangria recipes that you can make in your own home!
Eating yummy paella, tapas and other food.
When I travel I try and not restrict myself from trying new foods. The tapas, paella, and gelato were a few of my favorite things to taste. I am not a big meat eater but found paella to pair very well with some sangria. Eating is probably one of my top 5 things to do when I travel ( who am I kidding, it is my top five thing to do at all times). This is why I try and work out while I’m on vacation. My travel buddy and I had the opportunity of staying in a hotel that had an crepe shop underneath (this was a blessing and a curse at the same time). Walking up to our hotel every day was so tempting, I don’t know how I only picked up a crepe once out of the 4 nights we stayed there. Let me tell you this crepe disappeared before you can even say the word crepe. I admit it , my weakness is food especially when I travel. The special aspect about exploring a new city or country is indulging in almost every aspect about that culture.
La Sagrada Familia.
The construction of this temple began in 1866 by Gaudi and still continues to be under construction to this day. I was blown away by the architectural history of this beautiful church. At first glance I thought this this church was just a church that is continuously under construction but, when start looking deeper into the symbolism of this church I realized the true beauty of this architecture lied in the history. Each detail of the church is carefully placed and thought out and has a cohesive symbolism.
La Sagrada Familia has eighteen towers, the tallest tower is dedicated to Jesus and thesurrounding four towers represent the evangelists. The tower above the apse is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The 3 facades have 4 towers each, these 12 towers represent the apostles. The façade of the tower represents the passion of Jesus, the pain, sacrifice and death. The position of the façade plays a vital role in that it faces west and receives the last ray of sunlight in the evening. For tour reservations book here!
The Catalonian population.
On one of our vacation days in Barcelona, as we headed out on a tour we saw crowds of people coming out of their homes headed to the plaza right next to our hotel. People came out in yellow shirts and flags as a form of solidarity with the other people in the community. It was exciting to say the least. My travel buddy and I separated from each other that day and we were not able get further than a block away, that is how crowded the streets got. We actually had a tour planned that day and were not able to get anywhere due to the large crowds. Everyone was protesting and rallying that day, including children and families. It was nice to see a sense of solidarity and unity in this community. We were not upset about missing our tour because we felt it was a nice experience to be a part of. The rally was due to the Catalonian region wanting to be separate from the rest of Spain.
Over all Barcelona is a bigger city that is fun to visit if you are into food , topless tanning, late night partying and exploring old and modern forms of artistic expression. I was thoroughly impressed with the progressive artistic expression in this city and wish I would have visited having a better knowledge of it. Barcelona is a city worth exploring for a couple of days on your next Euro trip.The hop on hop off tours does a good job of taking you through all these sites in one or two days for a reasonable price. Tickets can be found here for only 14 euros and don’t forget to drink some sangria and take care of those tan lines!
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