Saturday, 9 May 2015

Beautiful Barcelona

Call the doctor……scratch that, call my bank manager! I’ve got the travel bug and boy have I got it bad. But what do you do when the size of your bank balance doesn’t match the scale of your wanderlust? Traditionally for me it has meant religiously playing the lottery in order to fund that dream ‘round the world’ trip, whilst simultaneously entering every travel competition I can find (all I have won from this is constant torment through a steady stream of emails for amazing holidays in far-flung places that I can’t afford). However it was when I started responding to friends who were visiting one of the countries on my bucket list, by burying my face in my hands and crying “Why are you doing this to me??”, that I realised that drastic action was necessary. And so after scrambling together enough pennies, I will finally be making a long-awaited trip to Vietnam at the end of the year and am determined to visit one place on my travel bucket list every year from now on.

In the meantime, in an attempt to moderate the craziness resulting from my wanderlust I have discovered the wonders of the European city-break and through this have really started to appreciate how fantastically connected London is to the rest of the world. Regular sales on flights/trains out of London, making a cheeky weekend break in Europe a must-do when you need a change of scenery. In addition the benefit of living in a city which is ridiculously expensive is that wherever you travel (minus perhaps Tokyo, Monaco etc.), you will feel practically giddy at the prices of everything.
WARNING: The flip side to this is that when you return to London you will come crashing back to earth as soon as you hand over a £10 note for two drinks and receive no change!.

Anyway last week I took my own advice and headed off to sunny Barcelona. If you haven’t been already I recommend a visit. It has everything from beautiful sandy beaches and mountains, world-famous architecture, boutique shops and flea markets, a buzzing night life, and of course that lovely Mediterranean climate which automatically puts you in a great mood. Below are some photos from my visit and some of my top tips.


Getting around: Forget tourist buses or taxis and buy a T-10 card (a train and bus pass for 10 journeys which costs under 10euros and will get you everywhere you need to go including to/from the airport) – bargain!

Where to stay: We were lucky enough to have a friend with an apartment in central Barcelona so I can’t help too much on this one other than to suggest befriending someone who lives in Barcelona before your trip and charming them into letting you stay, or failing that Airbnb is always a good bet.

Where to eat:
For great tapas at a really reasonable cost head to Bitacora (Carrer Balboa). We were able to get 6 tapas dishes and a large Greek salad (perfect for lunch for all four of us) for 12euros each. We loved the food so much we ended up making a return visit during our trip.

Don’t miss La Malandrina (Carrer de l’Almirall Cervera) an Argentine grill joint that is an absolute gem. Order the sirloin steak and cream potatoes with a glass or two of red wine, and enjoy a fantastic meal for under 15euros.

Churros are a bit hit and miss across Barcelona so my advice is to pick well. Thankfully you can’t fail with La Granja 1872 (Carrer dels Banys Nous). You actually buy the churros from Xurreia a couple of doors down (a bakery who make them fresh and wrap them up in a little packet for you). La Granja staff are happy for you to bring your freshly made churros into the restaurant as long as you order a steaming cup of dark chocolate to dip them into. Ah heaven!

Don’t miss:
Casa Batllo – Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece! If you can’t afford the entrance fee just gazing at the outside of the building is a treat in itself. The roof looks like a dragon lying atop the building and a series of bones and skulls on the exterior are said to be from the dragon’s victims. The inside is just as enticing too, but remember to buy your ticket in advance so you can fast-track the queue

Park Guiel – Another fantastic Gaudi creation which feels like entering a weird and wonderful fairytale world. The photos below give some of a sense of it but I really recommend seeing it in person as it is difficult to capture in words.

The Magic Foundation – The Magic Fountain of Montjuic comes alive at night with a fantastic display of multicoloured jets of water, synchronised with music from everything from the Star Wars theme tune to operatic numbers.

Avoid like the plague:
Las Ramblas – Full to the brim with tourists, people trying to hawk you their wares, thieves eyeing up your bag, over-priced restaurants and bars. Imagine Leicester Square but even worse.

Buying dried meat on a stick from La Boqueria market. Learn from my experience and don’t be enticed by the 1euro price-tag. It is probably old enough to be fossilised and will taste like it too.

So next time you have a weekend free, take advantage of the fact that London is a gateway to Europe, grab that passport and head off to visit our wonderful neighbours across the water.  

What places are on your travel bucket list?



  1. Beautiful pictures Betsy ! My work here is done haha!! I wish we were still in Barcelona. I miss this truly beautiful city. :)

    1. Lol. I will hereafter refer to you as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of photography. Thanks so much! It is a lovely city - good times!

  2. Such beautiful pictures! Would love to visit Barcelona one day, I will make sure to follow your tips xx

  3. Thanks Shannon! I really recommend visiting. Just finished reading your Australian bucket list - love it!


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