Thursday, 9 April 2015

Barcelona Spain in Spring

This Trip: FROM 2015.04.03 TO 2015.04.06

We are thankful that this first trip of 2015 has come out great, partly because of very nice weather throughout the trip, and in spite of the need to squeeze through the crowd during the Easter Holidays. We are certainly going to miss all our favorite paellas, tapas, pinchos, sangria, etc., as we will not travel to Spain again anytime soon.

DAY 1: La Sagrada Familia + Park Güell

La Sagrada Familia is probably the number one attraction in Barcelona. Both its interior and exterior are impressive. Make sure you purchase your timed ticket online in advance, firstly because that queue outside ticket office is really huge, and secondly there is this thing called "tickets sold out today". We spent around 3 hours at La Sagrada Familia to see enough of the outside and inside, from the tower on the Nativity facade, of the exhibitions underground, and also the crypt of which access is via a separate entrance. We arrived at Park Güell at around 14:00 only to see an incredibly long queue for timed tickets for access at 16:30, which was the earliest available slot. We just got lucky! For some reasons a couple didn't want to wait 2 hours for access and so they sold us their tickets. We made use of those waiting time to enjoy some paellas nearby, but not the self-service sandwich bar inside the park that didn't look tempting at all. Park Güell is a must-see but the paid area is just too small to be worth €8. Overall, tickets of attractions in Barcelona cost more than those in Madrid.

DAY 2: Casa Milà / La Pedrera + Güell Palace

We continued on the "Antonio Gaudí Route". Since we started our day early at 9, we didn't have to queue for access to La Pedrera. Otherwise known as Casa Milà, its rooftop is definitely a photographing site. At midday when we left there was a super long queue for tickets and access, so check if it's possible to purchase ticket beforehand if you are not early birds. Then, we toured around to see other interesting architecture in the area and lunched before heading to Güell Palace. Güell, the wealthy industrialist who was Gaudí's main patron, wanted to show off his wealth to his friends and acquaintances (this private residence was to be used for exhibitions, concerts and other events) and so Gaudí created an unusual, bold architectural project. He made innovative use of traditional building techniques, as well as a wide variety of materials, with particular emphasis on more expensive ones such as marble.

DAY 3: Montserrat Catalonia Spain

At Espanya rail station we bought the Trans Montserrat Ticket (almost €30 per ticket) to Aeri Montserrat. The ticket includes return train fare Barelona<->Montserrat, return cable car up and down the mountain, 2 funicular rides to different parts of the mountain, and 2 free metro rides. The train journey from Espanya takes 1 hour. Instead of visiting the monastery, ask for a map of the mountain at information desk and enjoy a beautiful day with stunning mountain views by following one of the hiking routes. Bring enough water and your favorite food and lunch at a nice spot on top of the mountain. You are going to love it! Montserrat is a must-go! We took the train from Espanya at 09:30 but we should have taken the one at 08:30 to arrive even earlier to see even more of the mountain. Those who arrive in Montserrat in the afternoon really cannot do much. Last but not least, we recommend the Trans Montserrat Ticket to Monistrol Montserrat instead. Unlike the cable car from and to Aeri with a super low capacity that leads to ridiculously long queuing time, the train from and to Monistrol is a much more efficient way to go up and down the mountain. Anyway you will have the best breathtaking views on top of the mountain.

DAY 4: Fountain of Montjuïc + Poble Espanyol The Spanish Village + Medieval/Roman Route

On the way to Poble Espanyol, the Fountain of Montjuïc with the National Museum of Art of Catalunya MNAC as background was absolutely a photo shooting spot we were excited to see especially it was another beautiful day and there wasn't a huge crowd at around 10.  It was surprising most visitors in Poble Espanyol were travelling in a tour group. It seems the site is not that well-known. In our opinion, however, with different quarters that replicate the style of houses and architecture form different parts of Spain, this Spanish Village is a must-see. Poble Espanyol is also home to a whole host of specialist craft shops and workshops where you can see some traditionally made Spanish goods. This afternoon we visited a number of medieval/Roman sites including MUHBA Temple of Augustus, Plaça del Rei, Plaça de la Vila de Madrid, Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Cathedral of Barcelona, etc. To complete this happy journey we enjoyed a Mojito and a Cava Sangria in a cosy bar one last time before heading to the airport :)