Barcelona

Our train from the festival was so packed full of FIB punters that people were standing, sitting on each others’ laps and on the floor for the two or so hour journey. Seemingly, everyone had the same idea as us to carry on their journey in Barcelona. We also had a problem finding accommodation because of this reason. Again, we were too naive, or too lazy, to feel the need to organise somewhere to stay before actually getting there. We were even laughed out of a few places who just replied disbelievingly with “today?!” when we asked if they had any spare beds. Nevertheless, our flukey good luck once again saved us and we found a hostel around the corner from the train station which had just had a cancellation. Even if the three guys did have to share a bed for the first night. A word of advice again; whilst you shouldn’t plan a trip like this too much, because things change and it’s more fun to have the freedom to make a last minute decision on where to go, it is ideal to book a room in a city which is a) full as it is peak summer time and b) also full of festival-goers desperate for a real bed and a shower.

The best way to see Barcelona is undoubtedly by taking the city sightseeing bus tour (http://www.city-sightseeing.com/tour-Barcelona). You buy a ticket for around €23 and can get on and off wherever you want or stay on the whole time and see all the sights with a running commentary on what you are looking at. We did this and got off at Santa Maria del Mar, an impressive medieval Catalan-Gothic style church. Afterwards we walked around the surrounding area, getting slightly lost and ending up in Parc de la Ciutadella, which is beautiful and had a lake with loads of tiny turtles in. We hired boats to have a closer look. There was also, for some reason, a sculpture of a giant mammoth (see picture above and excuse the childish nature of it). Then we went to find the Picasso museum, decided against going in because of the huge queue and the price, and stumbled upon another (free) exhibition across the road. This was the ‘What to wear? Maria Brillas’ wardrobe by Pedro Rodríguez’. It was precisely what the title says; a display of Maria Brillas’ clothes which were, pretty much all designed by this one guy, Pedro Rodríguez. The clothes were lovely; stylish and sophisticated, early twentieth century pieces. The dresses were amazing. The question is though, who is Maria Brillas? It was pretty unclear who she was or what she did; we guessed she was a Catalan socialite. With good clothes. Either way it was fairly interesting (and it was free).

After this, we got back on the bus and went to see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Me, being ignorant, made a comment on how annoying it is going to see sites when they’re having work done and always have scaffolding up. This is when my boyfriend, who is an architecture student, laughed at me and told me that it is having work done on it because it is unfinished (and will remain so for another 15 years). Apparently it is common knowledge. Silly me. Anyway, it was impressive; with spires at over 90 metres, and planned to reach 170, it towers above the city with an extraordinarily intricate facade that sets it apart from the rest of Barcelona. Definitely a must-see. Carrying on the Gaudi themed sight seeing, we headed over to his Park Guell and took in its mosaic sculptures and buildings and yet again, had a wander around whilst getting increasingly lost. Nice place to be lost in though – I think it looks like a real-life version of a place Dr Seuss would dream up, curly buildings and all.

That night we decided to go to La Rambla, a street lined with bars and clubs and apparently ‘the place’ to go for a night out in Barcelona. However, as we didn’t manage to get there until around half one and most clubs were extremely expensive to get into, we ended up in a small bar just off La Rambla, which was one of the only places that was free entrance. It was actually a great place; the beer wasn’t outrageously priced and there was still a dance floor and a nice buzz about the place. Although the music choice was slightly erratic; one minute they were playing house and techno, the next a Michael Jackson medley, a Grease medley, some indie and rock and then some traditional samba music. It seemed to please the crowd either way.

The thing I liked best about Barcelona was the fact that it was easy to get around and that you probably didn’t have to spend all your time sightseeing if you didn’t want to. The city has a great feel to it when you just wander around. It’s also an extremely diverse city and has so much to offer; sandy beaches, huge shopping centres, football (I’ve heard their team is quite good), historic monuments, impressive architecture, clubs and pubs – there’s something for everyone. I will definitely be going back, a couple of days is not enough for this place!

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