Alice in Gaudi Land

Some of you prepare extensively for city trips, some of you go blank and explore.

Some of you, including myself, are somewhere in the middle…. I read a few books, look on some blogs, ask some friends. And take off to my new destination.We booked a citytrip to Barcelona, in Spain. Close enough (from Amsterdam) to go for just three days. Far enough to enjoy some sun while the autumn was settling in in the Netherlands.

And so we arrived in the sunny Barcelona. The sea was sparkling as seen from the plane, and the city was basking in the sunlight. From the airport, there is an easy shuttle going to the city. At just E 5,50 a person, that is money well spent.

Our hotel was situated in the Eixample area, where you’ll find a lot of locals and not so many tourists. Still, the highlights of the city are within walking distance! The Retrome hotel is a bit difficult to find; a small sign on a massive wooden door will tell you you have reached your destination. Ringing the doorbell, following the stairs to the first floor and there we were greeted by a lovely Dutch lady. As it was still very early, we were offered a coffee and the possibility to leave luggage as we had to wait another few hours before we could check in. Time to explore the city!

The Retrome hotel in Barcelona is retro in every detail!
The Retrome hotel in Barcelona is retro in every detail!

More coffee, a chair, sunlight and a good view. That was what we needed at 10AM in the morning. So we headed off, and walked to the Place del Rei, with it’s beautiful cathedral and nice little terraces. Sitting down at one of the bars we enjoyed a sandwich and a glass of cava (and coffee, but hey; it was holiday). Strolling on, we discovered the little alleyways, beautiful old buildings and eventually arrived at the beachfront where we decided to soak up some more sun at one of the beach bars close to Port Vel.

Sunn!
Sun! We walked to Port Vel, sat down at a nice cafe on the beach and took a (cheap) taxi back to our hotel.

Back at the hotel, we checked in, and had a little afternoon snooze. After that, our mission was to explore some of Barcelona’s best rooftop terraces. It’s not difficult to find them; head to Passeig de Gracia and you’ll find many! The trick however is, to find the ones that are open before the sun sets. That is a bit of a challenge. The terrace at Hotel Majestic looked very majestic but we sat down on the terrace of the Condes Hotel. Bar Alaire has excellent staff, a view on the (still being renovated) Sagrada Familia and very nice barsnacks! Perfect for a lazy sunset and good conversation.

It was just a short stroll from the Condes hotel to Tapas Restaurant Teleferic. And yum! What a place! Just absolutely perfect; a very nice and friendly service and amazing tapas & pinxtos for a very affordable price. We stayed there a bit too long, drinking the nice wine (as recommended by the waiter) and almost had to roll home. Luckily we could walk home, breathing some fresh air and having at least a little bit of exercise after such a sumptuous dinner!

Tapas y pinxtos at Teleferic!
Tapas y pinxtos at Teleferic!

The next day, over breakfast (which was served at the cafe across the street, we felt very local) we decided to go to Park Guell, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Checking online quickly, we discovered that you can book tickets in advance. You don’t have to, but a lot of different sites recommend this. We were a bit hesitant, as you had to give a time-slot (12:00, 12:30, 13:00 etc) and the last thing you want on a city trip is to be restricted by time. But as it was a sunny Saturday, we expected a lot of people to go to the Park and to beat the queues we booked a ticket online for the 13:30 entry.

A fun sign after walking up the steep stairs up to the park!
A fun sign after walking up the steep stairs up to the park! Didn’t feel like churros and chocolate though, rather like cava and tapas…

That was the best decision ever! We lingered around in the park that is open to the public, until it was 13:30. Every 30 minutes, 400 people are allowed in to the park. This does not mean you have to leave the park within 30 minutes, you can be there as long as you want. And you do really want to take your time here! Ask for a free information brochure so at least you get a bit of understanding of what you are seeing. Sit back and relax on the snake-bench while overlooking the city, admire the porter’s house at the entrance and just surround yourself in all the colors sparkling of the bright mosaic that is surrounding you here.

A deep blue sky, bright green trees and all the colors of the park. Picture Perfect!
A deep blue sky, bright green trees and all the colors of the park. Picture Perfect!
Sit down on one of the benches and admire the sculptures, and the visitors. This little boy was so cute, trying to take the perfect picture to show his dad.
Sit down on one of the benches and admire the sculptures, and the visitors. This little boy was so cute, trying to take the perfect picture to show his dad.
From the park, you have an amazing view over Barcelona!
From the park, you have an amazing view over Barcelona!

After the Park we felt like a bit more Gaudi so we headed over to the Sagrada Familia. We did not go in and felt a bit disappointed by the looks from the outside. There is so much construction around the cathedral!

The Cathedral is still being under construction. I can remember this sight when I was in Barcelona over 10 years ago, but didn't expect the construction to continue for so long!
The Cathedral is still being under construction. I can remember this sight when I was in Barcelona over 10 years ago, but didn’t expect the construction to continue for so long!

In the evening, we went to the W hotel on the waters edge. We heard the skybar here was amazing. What we found most amazing is that the skybar on the 26th floor, only opened at 18:00, while sunset was at 17:30. To be in the bar of one of Barcelona’s tallest buildings and miss the sunset is a bit of a pity but we were still in awe by the views, the service (excellent!) and the cocktails + food. From the W we walked to El Borne, a young and lively area with a lot of nice bistro’s and restaurants. Being sheltered by buildings we had dinner outside, Tapas of course.

We could not go up to the rooftop bar until it was 18:00 so we hang out on the beach loungers until it was time. Not too bad for a view either!
We could not go up to the rooftop bar until it was 18:00 so we hang out on the beach loungers until it was time. Not too bad for a view either!
Somewhere up there, is the skybar of the W. Bit of a pity it was dark by the time we arrived but the food & cocktails here are amazing. And so is the service.
Somewhere up there, is the skybar of the W. Bit of a pity it was dark by the time we arrived but the food & cocktails here are amazing. And so is the service.

The last day arrived too quickly, and the trip back home had to be made. After just a little bit of shopping we hopped into a cab (E30,- to the airport) and flew home. With the colours of Gaudi still in my head we landed in a stormy Amsterdam….

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