We took our first long (ish) holiday post-COVID in April this year. We chose Spain because it offered a bit of all the European charm–great food and wine, good weather, mountains and beaches. Add to that, super convenient entry requirements i.e. no tests needed for vaccinated travellers and we were sold. We started our trip with 3 days in Barcelona. While it is no Rome or Paris, Barcelona has its own laid-back charm. We met some of the friendliest people in this city and discovered few amazing places to eat. Sharing the highlights (and some misses) of our stay below.
We stayed at Hotel Villa Emilia in the beautiful Eixample district. The hotel was very conveniently located near metro station and there were a lot of nice cafes and restaurants nearby. We used the metro and bus during our entire stay (including trips to and from the airport) and it was a pretty safe and smooth experience.
Day 1: We had a very relaxed first day in Barcelona. After checking into our hotel, we had a brilliant late lunch at Cruix, a perfect start to our trip. This was followed by a short walk around the area and picking up essentials i.e. water, mints, fruits etc. Hard to pass by those strawberries without buying some! The local produce in Spain looks so delicious. We decided to take a short nap (when in Spain, siesta….) and head out later in the evening. Well, that never happened because we woke up only the next morning. I did wake up once in middle of the night and since I was feeling quite energetic, I ended up researching and planning our next few days in Barcelona.
Day 2: We just walked around the city this day. Joined a couple of free walking tours–Gothic quarter in the morning that took us through some of the oldest parts of the city and Gaudi tour in the afternoon where we saw different styles of architecture leading up to Antoni Gaudi’s modernism. Weather was superb for walking, so all in all it was a pretty great day. We checked out La Rambla after the second walking tour. Could not really figure out what the hype is about and it was very crowded so we left soon. We went back to our hotel to relax for a bit before heading out for dinner. We were a tad tired of all the walking so just decided to order in. For the first time, I was craving Indian food while travelling but unfortunately food was below average.
Day 3: We had pre-booked our visit to La Sagrada Familia for today in order to skip the long queue. It is the world’s largest unfinished church and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is under construction for over a 130 years. First impression–it is massive and very different from any other church we have seen and we have seen quite a few during our previous trips to Europe. We were not sure how impressive the interiors would be but we were truly blown away. You have to be there to really understand the vision of the architect and how beautifully it is being brought to life. I will highly recommend the taking the audio guide as it is very informative and helps put things into perspective.
We had a nice Venezuelan lunch of arepas, empanadas and cachapas at Tio Papelon near the church. For the afternoon, we had a visit planned to another one of Gaudi’s masterpiece i.e. Park Guell. It was originally being built as a housing estate but failed to take off and eventually was opened to public in the form of a garden. Since it is situated on a hill, you get a nice view of the city and the sea. Other than that, I found it to be a bit underwhelming.
Day 4: We had to leave for Seville this day for our Andalusia road trip. We had breakfast at our favourite spot. We shopped a bit around Placa de Catalunya and Porta de l’Angel.
Since we flew back from Barcelona, we stayed in the city another night at the end of our trip. That night was a total blur because Vueling airlines lost my bag on the Seville-Barcelona flight. What followed was a tedious process of filing a baggage incident and praying to get a call back.
Despite the stress, we managed to have our last dinner at Cruix. We loved that place so much, we did everything we could not to miss our reservation. Food was amazing as expected! For breakfast the next morning, we were going to back to Paradero (this trip was all about revisiting places we liked), when we finally got a message that my bag was at Barcelona airport.
Phew! Now all we needed was to get the bag before our flight to Singapore. However, this was followed by another stressful conversation with their ridiculously useless helpline. Finally, we just went to arrivals at the airport to ask about the bag and after waiting for a bit we got it. Just in time for our flight back home. Before this, I had no idea Vueling and Barcelona had such a poor record of baggage delay and not providing any compensation. This was my first baggage delay incident and man it was stressful. I was fortunate to atleast get it back the next day and in time to catch the flight.