12 Oct 24 Hours in Barcelona
After travelling in Asia and North America for the past two and a half years, we’re excited to be spending 2016 in Europe. We booked cheap flights through to Spain for January and a we have month’s car hire lined up; our plan is to spend a few weeks exploring the country and decide where we want to settle for a while to earn some money through teaching English again.
So, where are we thinking of settling? We’ve heard that teaching work is available throughout the country, but most jobs are concentrated in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, which is handy because I love city life. When we arrive we’ll be stopping in Barcelona briefly to get a taste of the city and see whether we’d like to live there – here’s what we have planned for our introduction to Barcelona.
While I’ve only ever visited the coast of Spain on a family beach holiday, Andrew has actually taken a brief trip to Barcelona before. He liked the cheap food, vibrant bustle of the city and other-worldly modernist architecture; these are all things I’m keen to experience when we visit. Here’s what we have planned for our first 24 hours in Barcelona.
Modernist Architecture and the Sagrada Familia
Barcelona is said to be the birthplace and cradle of Catalan Modernism, and although we’re not huge art or architecture buffs, we can’t visit the city without checking out some of its famous buildings. These include the gothic church of Santa Maria Del Mar, as well as Park Guell and La Pedrera. Since we’re short on time we’ll prioritise a trip to the most famous building in Barcelona: the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia is the most-visited monument in Spain, a huge, ornate church designed by Antoni Gaudi, the famous modernist who died before the building was even half completed. In fact, over 100 years after construction first began, the church is still unfinished, but everyone I know who’s been to Barcelona has tipped the Sagrada Familia to be the city’s top attraction.
The Old City
We find that the best way to get to know a place is to explore by foot. Thankfully, Barcelona is a walkable city and we can get a good feel for the place by wandering around the Old City, where many of Barcelona’s main attractions are located.
We can get lost in the Gothic Quarter’s maze of medieval alleyways and squares, visit the Jewish Quarter and Raval (China Town). Perhaps the most popular part of the Old City is La Rambla, a famous street lined with shops, theatres, street performers, restaurants and interesting architectural buildings; I imagine it to be like Covent Garden in London, or Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Located in La Rambla, Boqueria is a huge food market selling fresh produce, seafood, meat, cheese and all kinds of sweet treats. We love a good food market these days and visit them wherever we travel; given that I’m a vegetarian and a fussy eater, being able to walk around, see the food and pick out what I like the look of suits me well.
We always try to visit a few museums to learn about the history of places we visit and there are plenty to choose from in Barcelona. Many of these are art based, such as the Picasso Museum and Museum of Art of Catalonia. Since we’re not huge art fans and are short on time we’ll probably hit up the Museum of History of Barcelona; if we happen to visit on a Sunday then there’s no entrance fee to pay after 3pm, which is even better!
Beyond 24 Hours in Barcelona
There’s plenty more to explore in Barcelona, including beaches like Barceloneta, as well as the famous football stadium Camp Nou and hundreds of shops, cafes and restaurants. No doubt we’ll return to Barcelona to explore in more depth and who knows, if we fall in love with the city and can find work there, it may even become our home base for 2016.