On Thursday 17th August, Barcelona fell victim to an dispiclable terrorist attack. As of writing this, what we know is this. A van was driven into pedestirans on La Rambla, in Barcelona - a street I was walking on only 9 days previous. 13 people died and 130 were injured. It was later found that this was part or a wider terrorist cell plan, as in a nearby city, Cambrills, a similar attack was carried out, killing one woman and injuring 6 others. All the attackers were killed by the police.
I was in the same area of Barcelona only a week prior to the attacks. I wanted to get this blog post out as a reminder to anyone who read this that Barcelona is an amazing city - full of great history, great people and great food.
Events like this, although they are scary, should not deter anyone from travelling to these amazing cities. By 'bowing' to their fear, we are letting them win. By continuing to live our lives as if nothing happened, whilst remaining vigilent of course, it's the biggest and best way to essentially 'stick two fingers' to their cause.
This post is aimed to show anyone who reads it, what a wonderful place Barcelona is, and why everyone should vist there at some point in their lives - by describing what an amazing time I had.
My old school friends and I flew out on Friday with RyanAir. For the record, however, they are not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. If your honest with yourself, if you are going to be a cheap skate and fly RyanAir - you get what you paid for.
The only annoying thing was that there is a rule that only the first 90 bags actually get onto the plane as carry on baggage - whilst the rest go in the hold. This is extremely annoying, especially if you only have one bag. We missed the 90 bag cut off by about 6 bags and I had to take all the stuff out of my bag that I would have wanted for the flight - and carry it. So note for the future, always carry a rucksack (a bag that can go under your seat).
We landed in Barcelona, where the temperature was 36 degrees. It hit us like a wave when we got off the plane - very different to the 20 degrees we were 'enjoying' in the UK.
We travelled to the hotel - which was situated right near the center of town. It was called Barceló Raval. The hotel really nice, really modern feel to it. The hotel had a rooftop bar and gym (both of which we exploited over the 5 days). I must say though the decor was kind of 'strip joint like' - very dark and 'funky'.
We were all starving so we asked the hotel to recommend us a place for us to eat Paella. We probably could have found somewhere better (and cheaper) than the hotel's recommendations, but we were that hungry that we didn't want to explore first. Although, when walking to the resturant, we were offered every drug possible.
The resturant we went to was called La Ferran - where I ordered the Paella. Now normally, I'm not a seafood kind of guy, but thought that if I was going to try Paella - I wanted to do it properly!
It was really good. The only annoying thing was that none of the shellsifh was peeled - so it got a bit fiddly trying to get the meat out.
We went back to the hotel and the plan was that we watned to go to one of the beach side clubs. We asked at the hotel if we needed tickets - then they gave us free tickets! So, off to Opium we went...
We played a card game we used to play a lot at school (Bobi - it's kind of like Hearts - that game you used to play on Windows XP) - somehow we turned it into a drinking game, then we headed to the club.
Obviously, on a Friday night, we knew it was going to be busy - and for a club by the beach, we knew it was going to be even busier - man it was rammed! In addition to that, when you buy drinks at the clubs in Spain, theres no watered down rubbish you get in the UK, they put A LOT of alcohol in the drink. Safe to say, we got quite drunk, there were a few photos (some I'm not going to put on here - ironiclly not cause of me :P) but here are some of the best ones.
Due to the previous night's antics, we all woke up late (around midday). Two of us, had a lot to drink and were still feeling a little groggy, even after our lie in. We all walked up La Rambla and got some food to eat. (We got calamari from not the best place - and it wasn't great at all).
Some of us still felt 'groggy', so two of us decided to go back to the hotel for a nap whilst the rest went for a walk around La Rambla.
After about an hour, the guys came back, and we were 'feeling better'. We decided to play golf :D Problem was that we didn't have any clubs - or the correct attire - so any course we went to had to let us play in the clothes we had AND would let us borrow clubs. This ended up with us going to Parc Golf Club - which was well out of Barcelona.
In my opinion, I'm glad we went there. It was really really hot, hardly any breeze and my friends (put polielty) suck at golf. Ther scorecard is below but, I will explain a few things.
We didn't finish the 18 because we were exhaused from the heat after 12. Also, we lost enough golf balls so that we only had 2 between four of us.
The reason why JB has X's in his card, were cause he lost his ball in the drink on the 4th hole. We found a spare on the 9th so he started playing again.
Despite the heat, it was the best I've ever played round a pitch and putt. Warm weather golf definetly suits me! :D
After we got back, we went to get some Tapas. We agreed before we came out that we would go to a couple of decent (expenisve) resturants - this was one of them. The resturant was called La Terrassa del Do and we chose it cause it was in this little square just off La Rambla.
Now, I've never had tapas before so I didn't know what to expect. I knew that tapas was a selection of finger bites that everyone has (kind of like a sharing platter) - what I didn't realise was that they all came out at different times (i.e. whenever the food was ready.)
The food was okay - but for me it wasn't that filling. Definetly the best tapas we had was the one with the Iberian ham on it. Worst was the anchovies (they were SO salty - but at least I can now said I've had them - would be perfect on a pizza ;))
Saturday night, we decided to go to another club, this one was called Shoko. Unfortunately, we had to pay for this one - but weirdly, because we were tourists, they let us skip the queue (which was massive, again) and go straight in. It cost €20. Now, whether my experience at this club was effected due to how I was feeling from the following night, I'm not sure - but I wasn't 'feeling the same vibe' as I was from Opium. The music wasn't anything I heard before (or liked) and also, probably the more important issue, I wasn't as drunk as I was for Opium. (which is sad, I know, but I'm not a huge fan of clubbing (unless theres a large group of us / its a one off - not two nights in a row)).
One thing I forgot to say about these Spanish clubs anyway is that they give you 'glass' glasses - normally in the UK, at that time of night, they give drinks out in plastic cups. Which is why we were super suprised when we saw a girl throw her glass across the packed dance floor when she finished her drink. We don't think anyone got hurt but even still it was a #dickMove.
My friend and I, the ones who had naps during the day, left early, got a taxi back to the hotel room. We did try and go to Burger King (but at 3am it was shut :( )
Sunday was a chill day. So we decided to go for a walk around town. On Monday, we would be going to the Barcelona vs Chapaconese game - so we decided to buy Barca tops. They were a bit pricey but I decided to get last years away top for a fraction of the price this years were selling at.
We had dinner at a resturant called El Beso y la Luna (The Kiss and the moon). I had the lasange which I thought was really nice. We saw some street perfomers who did some impressive back flips and dancing - which meant they came round asking for change for their troubles. Although these guys were quite good (one of the guys was quite 'sizeable', and even he did a backflip), I always hated street performers like that. Not because of their performane, but because they are after money and normally are quite 'annoyed' if you don't contribue something. I mean, if you're eating, and a street performer starts performing, of course you're going to watch them - you've got nothing else better to do?! #rantOver
In addition, we went to a little chocolate kitchen called chök - highly recommend. My friends had donuts but I had the chocolate cake with strawberries. Yum.
We decided to go to the beach - which was glorious. We did buy a football so we could have a kick around but the beach was extremely packed so that plan was a no go. I went for a dip in the sea - read a bit of my book and just relaxed. Some of us found a bar that was beside the beach that served this amazing fruit juice - we found out they served breakfast so thought we'd come back and have 'breakfast by the beach' one morning - read Tuesday to see how that plan panned out.
We decided to eat italian food that evening (seeing as we had a lot of spanish food previously) - and I must say I had probably the best pasta dish I've had yet. The resyurant was called La Tagliatella and the dish I has was Sorentillo with mascarpone and mushrooms with Iberian Ham.
We headed back to the hotel and decided to have a few drinks at the hotel's rooftop bar - where the view was incredible. We shared a few stories about university, reminisced about our time at school and also heard a few strange stories - one of which involved one of my friends sleepwalking, which turned into jumping out his window (his bedroom is on the first floor) and running in the park because in his dream, he was being chased by an axe murderer. (Still waiting for confirmation on that one).
Three of us decided to get up early and have a wonder around Barcelona - one of us doesn't do early mornings. We walked up La Rambla and around the harbour - essentially doing one massive loop.
There were a couple of things I noticed on this walk :
- Barcelona is beautiful, at any time of the day, but it was even better in the morning when you are not subjected to loads of randomers trying to sell you drugs.
- There is a lot of graffiti in Barcelona - like A LOT - some of it is actually good graffiti but some of it is dreadful.
- Barcelona smells - NOT ALL OF IT - but some areas of it smell really bad. They put their rubbish outside in like 'public' bins. Now bear in mind its like 25 / 30 degrees - if you leave food waste outside in that heat - it's bound to smell.
Another thing we did visit was the food market (La Boqueria) - Europe's largest food market. It was class. When we all grouped back up together, we headed back to the food market and bought some fresh-squeezed juices and had some food at one the food stands there.
It was this day we decided to go to the Sagrada Familia. Its a "large unfinished Roman Catholic church". It was designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was mind blowing how incredible this structure was - words cannot do it justice. I'm not a 'history of architechture' kind of guy but it was an amazing building.
Its supposed to be finished in 2027 - which could be when we go back?
When we got back, we went for some food. I had Octopus - it was quite nice to be fair but it was only part of a tentacle. Then we got onto the very busy metro to FC Barcelona.
We bought tickets for the FC Barcelona vs Chapaconese - who were the team who were part of a plane crash that killed almost the entire first team.
The game was good - it was a bit one sided (score was 5-0) but the atmosphere was amazing - and this was just a friendly, yet there were still 65,000 people in the stadium.
Messi was UNREAL - Suárez had a hat ful of chances that were either saved or missed - until he scored one at the end.
My friends didn't want to get into the crammed metro again so we decided to walk till we found a taxi to take us home - only that there were no taxis and we ended walking for an hour till we got home. One of my friends was not happy. But whilst walking back we walk past some really nice and picturesque buildings that we had never seen before - so we decided to wake up early again and walk back there to see what was going on.
So we did. We woke up early and went back. I believe it was an art museum was what we saw (we didn't go in cause it was mega early)- but the view from the top of the hill was beautiful.
We got back and then walked to the beach for our 'breakfast at the beach plan' - only for it to rain, a lot. It pretty much was torrential rain for whole time we were having brunch. (food was good though).
We then went to Casa Batlló which was a house that was designed by Gaudi - the only thing was it was a bit OTT - for a touristy place it wasn't the greatest. They did have a really good video guide that they gave to all people as they walked in - so everyone could go at their own pace. Also there was a 3D virtualisation section - showing what the building woudl have looked like back in the day before it was a tourist site - with real animation and moving characters.
After that, we went back to the hotel, got our bags and went home (and arrived in the pouring rain) :P.
So that was Barcelona. A truly amazing city, full of things to do and see. You will not get bored in Barcelona. Highly recommend that you go.
Here are all the pictures.
Thanks for reading :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017Cataloniaattacks https://www.holidaywatchdog.com/images/cl/h302,w450/hotels/43181_80cc23285289cd4507d58b2db45c4b47.jpg https://t-ec.bstatic.com/images/hotel/max1024x768/128/12814178.jpg http://www.chokbarcelona.com/en/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia http://www.espnfc.com/report?gameId=490288