Barcelona on a budget – part 2

Last week, I wrote about the first couple of days of my long weekend in Barcelona with a friend, featuring pigeons, churros and a lot of walking. Here’s the second part of our Spanish adventures.

On Saturday, we decided to give our feet a rest and buy tickets for the open-top tourist bus. This was probably our biggest expense of the weekend, and to be honest I’m not sure it was worth all the money we paid for it, but it did make it easier to see the sights, and we learnt some stuff.

Our first stop was the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s famous unfinished church. We got off the bus at about 10am and headed confidently to the queue for tickets, not realising it went all the way round the corner and down the side of the building. If it hadn’t been the thing to do in Barcelona, we might have given up, but we were determined to get in, so we waited patiently, only to finally get to the ticket office and be told we’d have to come back at 1.30pm. (Note to self: next time, book online.)

photo-26

So we got back on the bus and continued our tour of the city, passing the foot of Mount Tibidabo, the Monestir de Pedralbes and the Barcelona FC stadium, Camp Nou. At this point we realised the major flaw in our bus plan – the routes are only one-way. It was getting close to lunchtime and we were completely on the wrong side of the city for our time slot at the Sagrada Família. So, naturally, we decided to get off and walk, because that’s our answer to everything, apparently.

Not having learnt anything at all from our previous experiences of things being further away than they looked on the map, we didn’t think it would take us very long. Turns out, we were wrong, and eventually arrived, red-faced and out of breath, at about 1.45pm. Fortunately we’d forgotten that we were in Spain, where punctuality isn’t really a thing, so nobody cared and we were let in with barely a glance at our tickets.

I already wrote a separate post about the Sagrada Família, but I’m still blown away by it, so let me just say again, if you’re in Barcelona, or near Barcelona, go there. It’s probably one of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever been in, and I’d go back tomorrow if I could.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

After we’d dragged ourselves away, we went looking for a bus stop on the other route, so we could explore the south side of the city. Unfortunately we somehow managed to turn left somewhere (I still have no idea where) and got ourselves good and lost for quite a while before we figured out where we went wrong.

The red route, when we found it, took us past Casa Batlló, another Gaudí masterpiece, the Parc Joan Miró and back to the Plaça d’Espanya, which we’d discovered on our first day. After stopping for an ice cream, and taking in (again) the amazing view from outside the art museum (actually better second time around as they’d taken down all the scaffolding that was in the way on Thursday), we decided to walk back to our hotel. Apart from one unfortunate incident where I forgot to look where I was going and fell over a bollard, this went well, and we relaxed for a while before getting dressed up a bit and heading out for some very yummy tapas.

Casa Batllo

Placa d'Espanya

Our last day was a bit of a non-event, mostly because the amazing weather we’d been having came to a very abrupt end. A cloudy start soon gave way to drizzle, which rapidly became a downpour, which lasted the rest of the day. We spent the morning doing some last bits of shopping on La Rambla, before eventually admitting defeat and heading for the airport.

Barcelona airport in the rain

Predictably our flight was delayed by the weather, but there was one big benefit to getting there early – unknown to us, the check-in man gave us a free upgrade. Now when I say upgrade, this was only a budget airline, so we’re not talking champagne and chocolates here. But we did get to board the plane first, extra legroom and free Pringles and a cup of tea, so we weren’t complaining. And to top it off, we had an amazing sunset to enjoy, which, as you know, always makes me happy.

Sunset from the plane

All in all, a pretty fab weekend in a beautiful city. There was plenty we didn’t see, but we managed to cover most of the city centre either on foot or by bus, and to not spend too much money in the process. And now everyone I know gets to listen to me going on about the Sagrada Família at every opportunity. You’re welcome 🙂

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