SPAIN: EAT, PLAY AND DANCE IN BARCELONA
January 1, 1970
by Sarah Magdy
My trip to Barcelona commenced unplanned and eminently chaotic. Initially, I was going to Girona in Spain but thanks to the unbelievably heavy traffic jams in Paris, I missed my flight for the first time in my life. I had to find a very quick alternative plan when I reached Beauvais airport so, I quickly chose to head to Barcelona. Honestly, I had absolutely no logic behind my choice, It just happened that Barcelona was the next flight on my airline’s list.
After aimlessly landing on Barcelona’s soil at midnight I ran to the tourists’ information centre to get some help but unfortunately I found no one there to lend a hand. I picked one of the youth hostels that came up on my very random Google search and I made sure that it is accessible by public transport from the airport.
I made my way to Alberg Pere Tarres Hostel. It was clean, the price was affordable and the staff were extremely friendly but sadly it was fully booked. While trying hard to practice my negotiation skills with the Moroccan receptionist in an attempt to get him to find me a spare bed, a young lady interrupted us and said six marvelous words that literally made my night; ‘I want to check-out please’! Finally, I was relieved that I will not be homeless in Barcelona.
STAY AT A YOUTH HOSTEL
Barcelona is a lively touristic city sought by people from all over the globe especially during the summer due to its extraordinarily nice weather, beaches and nightlife.
Luckily, my hostel booking fees included free breakfast, which allowed me to have the perfect start of a day by meeting and socializing with cool people from different parts of the globe. I totally understand that some people panic from hostels and would rather pay much more money to stay at private rooms, but experiencing hostels life in Barcelona is something no one can put a price at. You shouldn’t worry at all about the cleanliness of rooms, beds and bathrooms or meeting weirdos in the hallways because those who made a conscious decision to travel to stay at a youth hostel in Barcelona are innately cooler than anybody else.
WALK, JUST WALK
I decided to carry on with the spontaneous unplanned plan of my trip. I strolled around the Catalan capital for hours with no maps and no checklist of must-visit places or must-see landmarks. Generally, I don’t mind getting lost in foreign cities because I believe this is how I build my very own unique experience that wasn’t previously written or told. And this is Barcelona, which means that you will always find something interesting to explore, fascinating to see and exquisite to listen to wherever you go.
I ambled through the small streets of Barcelona to see the uncanny Catalonian architecture. I reached Plaça d’Espanya, which is one of the most important squares in Barcelona. I stood there to watch the Spanish people attitudes and listen to their colloquial language in the busy square.
In order to get a better view, I went up the Plaza de toros de las Arenas. It used to be a bull ring in the past but it was reopened in 2011 as a shopping mall. Going up the Plaza will allow you to take great pictures and special meals with an awesome top view of the spectacular city.
Across the road, I found Palau Nacional (or the national palace) that accommodates Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. I fell in love with the selection of the impressive medieval and modern art collection displayed at the art Museum.
P.S: If you are a student in Europe don’t forget to take your ID to get your student discount.
After a few hours of walking, I reached the massive Roman Catholic Church and the UNESCO old Heritage site, Sagrada Familia. The Roman Church’s foundation stone was laid in 1882 but its construction was dismantled by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The Basilica was designed by Antoni Gaudí whose distinctive style is thoroughly reflected on the fascinating architecture of Barcelona. I was surprised that the church was still under construction after more than 140 years of discontinuous work. Good news is; it will finally be done by 2026.
Barcelona is renowned for its delicious Tapas. Tapas are cold and hot appetizers that could literally be found everywhere, from expensive restaurants to small coffee shops. They are usually inexpensive and so light on the stomach as well. I ate at least 20 types of Tapas before deciding that the Anchovies Tapas is the best.
WHEN IT GETS TOO HOT, GO STRAIGHT TO LA BARCELONETA BEACH!
It became a bit too hot and I started to get too tired from walking. I instantly bought a swimming suit and flip-flops and made my way to La Barceloneta beach. In the blink of an eye, was the shift from the stunning authentic city to the summery beach.
La Barceloneta is a vibrant sandy beach that has a lot of restaurants and nightclubs along its boardwalk. The beach is usually packed by foreign tourists who come to enjoy the reinvigorating Mediterranean vibes.
Here is what you should do at La Barceloneta:
Chill out on the sandy beach
Get an exotic drink from one of the restaurants by the beach, rub your tanning oil onto your body and lay out to bask and get a nice glowing tan on the soft sandy beach.
Enjoy a myriad of water activities on the beach. You can experience diving, snorkeling and Kayaking in the turquoise clear water or rent a banana boat with your pals to get the most exciting and thrilling bumpy ride.
La Barceloneta at night
When the evening draws in, the artificial florescent lights are instantly turned on and street musicians enthusiastically show up to fill the silence of the evening. You can dine at one of the glamorous restaurants with candle-lit tables viewing the sea and have a tremendously crazy night afterward at one of the beach nightclubs until the early hours of the morning.
WHEN THE FORECAST SAYS ‘SHOWERS’…DON’T GO HOME
I got a little disappointed when my quiet contemplation to the full bright moon on the beach was interrupted by unexpected heavy rains and unwelcomed lightning storm. I stood up to look for a safe haven but I heard loud music and excessive waves of laughter that distracted my endeavor. A group of talented dancers emerged on the horizon as soon as it started to pour with rain to dance under the showers. Instead of hiding, I halted to watch their sophisticated steps and their well-organized moves wet and unbothered. All of a sudden, one of the dancers grabbed me by the hand and started twisting.That’s when I realized that those dancers are just ordinary people who are capable of enjoying their time under any circumstances.
END THE DAY WITH PAELLA
It was very challenging to decide on the perfect ending of the day given the exemplary start I already had. I decided to eat Spain’s national and most popular dish, Paella. There are different types of Paellas; Vegetarian, meat and seafood. As a seafood lover, I didn’t think twice. I chose the seafood Paella and I never regretted it.
While dining I met four awesome guys from the Netherlands who came driving to Spain to practice the weirdest hobby I have ever heard of. They told me they globe-trot to look for big rare fishes, take pictures with them and throw them back into the water. They explained that their aim is to find and expose the rare beauty that lies under the water not to exploit it. I loved the idea.