So I finally have an opportunity to develop on the other half of my blog 'All the World's a Stage'; time to explore the travel side of things.
Last week me, my family and my boyfriend went away for a few days for our summer holiday. With my little brother being quite a bit younger and me and Jacob preferring the city break type of getaway, it was a difficult one to decide on a place that would have something for everyone. So with both a huge city rich in diverse culture and beautiful beaches in little seaside towns, Barcelona seemed like a perfect fit.
We actually stayed just outside of the city in the coastal town of Sitges. This was something I was very much glad about in the end as it was lovely to wake up to the gorgeous view of the sea, (I sung Moana more than a few times, I'll admit), but we were close enough to the city to jump on a train nearby and be in the centre in under half an hour. I'd very much recommend Sitges to anyone wanting to visit the area as the location was ideal and it was quite nice being slightly out of the way, as long as you don't mind the rather steep and treacherous uphill twists and turns to reach the picturesque accommodation. My mum wasn't too keen on that aspect, saying more than once she felt like she was on a rollercoaster in the taxi, though we all thought it was quite fun.
The vast city is just as contemporary as you would expect from the cosmopolitan capital of Spain's Catalonia region in some areas however what gives it the special edge is the charming, winding nature of the backstreets, rich in vintage boutiques and groovy little tapas bars. I'm a fan of graffiti art predominantly for the splashes of colour and interest it adds to the character of a place and Barcelona is littered with funky works on walls, grates and even on the inside of railway tunnels, giving the whole place an expressive, creative vibe.
As well as the graffiti that dominated the backstreets of the city, the architecture, the most famous works being that of Catalan Modernist artist Antoni Gaudí were truly remarkable. The infamous story of the spectacular Sagrada Família, 135 years in the making yet still unfinished, marks the crown jewell of the city. We spent a great deal of time viewing the breathtaking structure, which seems to have a different theme for each section, definitely one of the finest buildings I have ever witnessed.
I'd recommend the park across the road from the front of the building for the best view and best perspective for taking pictures, like the one above. It's a lovely little park that was well appreciated after a long day exploring the city.
Food and Drink
Of course the two ingredients that dominate any Spanish cuisine are both Tapas and Sangria and I can say that both were enjoyed in very good measure. In fact, apart from the first evening where we (mostly) enjoyed a sea food restaurant in Sitges, I was a little too adventurous with my choice of Fresh Whole Crab which was maybe a bad decision in retrospect but I'm glad to say I tried it, we had tapas pretty much every day. Because the beauty of Tapas is its variation, though each bar will have a slightly similar menu, you can always try something different or the same again if you enjoyed it the first time.
By far the best though was a place we were recommended to try by a family friend 'Gourmet Tapas by Sensei' in the Gothic Quarter and though a little more expensive than most, obviously very popular as we were lucky to get a table without a booking- arriving just after opening, the superb quality and flavour of each dish was well worth it. I'd especially recommend the shrimp croquettes, the pork cheek and the divine oxtail mini burger. I'd also go as far as saying that Gourmet Tapas had not only the best Tapas but also the best Sangria, made with a beautiful red wine and garnished with fresh oranges, lemons and apples. The rustic interior with intricate painted walls only added further to the exquisite dining experience.
Of course, it goes without saying there was a definite echo through the city, especially upon visiting the famous tourist area Las Ramblas, of the recent attacks. We joined the many in spending a moment to reflect on the needless tragedy and those who lost their lives several weeks ago, at the memorial in the centre. And though it was hard to shake from the back of my mind when exploring the beautiful city, what struck me most was the empowering solidarity of the civilians of Barcelona. It was business as usual, in yet another demonstration of human resilience showing again that these evil acts will achieve nothing in changing the lifestyle of innocent people, despite the attack of their way of life.
So, in summary, I am left in awe of the spectacular city and though there are many places in Europe I'm still yet to explore, Barcelona remains near the top of my list, primarily for the perfect combination of summer holiday and city break.
I would actually say that besides the sometimes cloudy weather- which can't possibly be helped, the only negative I would have with the beautiful Spanish city was the fact that there are far too many places to indulge at and sights to see to squeeze into four short days. But I guess that just means we'll have to go back!
I'll be posting some archive posts of my travels in the past year and also a little photography project called 'One Shot' inspired by Mabel Goulden on our trip so stay tuned for those, hope you liked my first travel post! x