Barcelona is a place I’ve been several times but I also feel like I’ve never really seen much of it. When I’ve been in the past it was usually to visit family friends, not so much to go sight seeing. This time my trip to Barcelona was very different in several ways. Instead of staying with the friends I normally do, I was simply staying at their flat alone because they were out of town. This doesn’t mean I was devoid of friends, however, because I met up with my old partner in crime Ramya, over a year since we last saw each other, and her friend Amanda. They’d planned an itinerary for their few days in Barcelona, so suddenly I had one too!
On Sunday we went to Montserrat, which we found out later was a great idea because most things in Barcelona are closed on Sundays so it makes sense to get out of the city. To get to Montserrat you catch the train from Barcelona and then the cable car from the station up up up the side of the mountain to the monastery. From that point there are several hikes you can do, as well as cafes, toilets and an information centre, all surrounding the monastery.
Montserrat is this huge, jagged rocky mountain range sticking out of the ground, completely surrounded by a very boring, flat landscape. We did the hike to Sant Jeroni, the highest peak of the Montserrat area sitting at 1236m above sea level. It was so interesting to see the rock formations and the view from the top was amazing. While hiking through Montserrat you can play “spot the rock climbers”, because every now and then you’ll notice these people climbing a sheer rock face in the distance, making you wonder how on earth they got over there in the first place.
The hike was great, the views were great, the company was great, the weather was horrid. Full on hot sun with few places to hide from it and about 35 degrees and very humid. That part wasn’t very pleasant. After reaching the top we came back down a little way and had a nice rest under some trees to eat our packed lunches, a much more economical option than eating at the cafes back down near the monastery.
The next day we met up early to get the metro to Park Güell. This park was designed by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona’s famous architect and the same man responsible for the Sagrada Familia. The park is basically a work of architectural genius and it feels a little bit unreal. Some parts are bright and colourful and resemble gingerbread houses, some remind you of a dragon’s lair, and the entirety leaves the visitor with no doubt as to why this is one of the most iconic sights in Barcelona.
After nearly two hours exploring Park Güell we headed back into the city centre to join a free walking tour of the Gothic Quarter in the afternoon. It was a Sandeman tour, I’d never done one before but it was really good. The woman showing us around was from Lithuania but she’d come to Barcelona for a week and ended up staying several years. Her passion for the city was evident and she was very entertaining. We covered everything from the Visigoths to the civil war.
The walking tour ended near the Rambla. We walked along it for a while, had some pastries and fresh juice at the Mercado de la Boqueria, and then it was time to say goodbye as I had to go home and get ready for my flight to Poland the next morning. It was basically a reenactment of our previous farewell 18 months before, except this time I was walking instead of driving away. Sad to say goodbye but ready for the next stage in the adventure, as always.