Day 9 to 12 was all in Barcelona!
I usually don’t like to bad mouth a city but if I can it would be Barcelona. lol. The sites and culture is just amazing but I don’t think I can ever go back. As much as I do love telling people about my experiences, my experience in Barcelona was just semi-awful. I guess it was ingrained in the beginning even from the tour leader that Barcelona was full of pick-pockets. Like many other cities pickpockets are a bit common and you are aware of it. However, to actually happen around you just give me bad vibes about the city. I am not saying you should never go to Barcelona; I just think you should be extra careful. I’ll go on about it in the itinerary a little bit more.
Day 9: This day was basically a bus day from Lourdes to Carcassone to Barcelona. We got to the hotel around 7 pm. Dinner was on your own. Our hotel was called the Porta Fira. It’s a weird looking red building that’s very circular and built in a new part of town. Its about a 2 minute walk from the nearest metro subway station and about 10 minute to a mall. My parents and I ended up walking to the mall to get dinner. Love a mall that has Asian food! OMG so craving after all that potatoes. HAHA. The hotel was nice and modern but wished it was more centrally located.
Day 10: With modern hotel, comes with really good breakfast. It felt like I never had really good eggs for a long time. For some reason the eggs in all the hotels we’ve been at were really runny or bitter. I mean really how can you mess eggs up?
The day starts off with a sightseeing tour around Barcelona which included a drive around Montjuic to the see the Olympic Stadium and a great panoramic view of the port and city. They let you off at the top to check out the scenery and take pictures. Then the tour continues to the city center’s Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia (which is like the Champs de Elysee of Barcelona) to see Gaudi’s houses Batllo and Mila. The tour ends at the Sagrada Familia.
Apparently, our tour time was later than normal for the Sagrada Familia. On your own you can buy tickets either online or in person and they give you a set time. When our tour guide purchased it, we were going in around noon. Since we finished the sightseeing tour so early, they took us to the Gothic quarters and we got to check out the Gothic Cathedral and the Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar. (Please note that the Cathedral does not allow people to come in with shorts or tank tops.) I was so ecstatic because it was some of the places I wanted to check out!
The Sagrada Familia is something you need to see if and when you go to Barcelona. Although it is unfinished, it’s just magnificent. The colors are just amazing. It just takes your breath away.
After the Sagrada Familia, the tour guide will either leave you here, take you to Las Ramblas (city center), or drop you back in the hotel. I think it was late enough that some people went back to the hotel to get ready for the night optional excursion which was walking through Las Ramblas, have dinner, and watch a flamenco show. This was the only excursion that my parents and I opted out of. We ended up getting out of the bus at Las Ramblas had a small snack and took the subway to Park Guell instead.
This is where a fun vacation made a turn for the worse. My parents and I tried to take a subway to Park Guell from Passeig de Garcia (take the green line) to Lesseps. Our first mistake was bickering about which ticket to buy. I really love day passes and live by them. Our tour leader told us that we can buy 10 tickets on one billet and keep passing the ticket to through the machine every time we enter. I think it’s was 14 Euros for each person for a 2 day card. However, it was about 2.15 Euros for a Single Ticket. 10 tickets = 21.50 Euros which is much cheaper than 42 Euros. So my parents and I keep going back and forth etc. While we were paying for the tickets, one of the service people (I think she worked for the metro), told us to watch out for pickpockets and that there were people around the corner watching us and ready to pickpocket. We were thankful for her warning and after that was just aware of our surroundings.
Once the train came, all hell kind of broke loose. My mom and I went into the train. My dad was kind of stuck trying to get on between some person in the back and this lady who we think was “lost.” My dad think he was sandwiched and thinks that someone was actually feeling him for his wallet. The lady in front literally was asking my dad “where is Catalunya?” all frantic and had her hand on the bars so not to let my dad through. My dad, funny guy that he is, was like “Don’t you live here? You should know?” but still trying to get on instead of being squished by the closing doors. My mom,after finding my dad was not behind her, then started screaming “Pickpocket! Pickpocket!” like some crazy person and dragged my dad in. Some people just looked at her crazy. I don’t know what happened to the lady but I think she got off when my mom went all nutso. After that my parents couldn’t stop talking about it. Saying different scenarios of how people get pickpocket and how we’re easily susceptible to pickpockets because “we Asian.” After that, we were just so shaken that we refused to take the subway in Barcelona and literally looked after our belongings very carefully.
Anyways, in order to get to Park Guell, you have to walk about 3 block east to “avinguda del santuari de sant Josep de la muntanya” and use the escalator to the top. The Gaudi museum or house at the top is a ticketed time and about 7 Euros each person. Unfortunately when we got there, we had to wait 2 hours because we didn’t purchase a ticket and due to the pickpocket debacle we kind of didn’t feel like waiting. However, the park right next to the Gaudi museum/ house was free and was as appealing and showed one of the best views of Barcelona. If you decide to go to Park Guell, you can buy it online. We took the bus back to Las Ramblas and walked it to the Mercado de La Boqueria and had dinner at Ramblero. It was like the freshest seafood you’d ever taste.
After walking some of the Las Ramblas, we headed back to the hotel.
Day 11: Breakfast at the hotel. Full last day in Barcelona. Found out another person in our group was pickpocket as well. The pickpocket was caught in the act! and an undercover cop saw them. Information was taken and the pickpocket was handcuffed. Seriously..Barcelona?
This morning was an optional excursion to Montserrat. This is a mountain range that is about 1 hour away from Barcelona. In order to get here you can either do a train and/or funicular from the bottom as it is quite steep or take the bus as I did. This mountain range is the site of the Benedictine abbey and the Santa Maria de Montserrat which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat, or the Black Virgin Mary.
The views from Montserrat is amazing! And a black Virgin Mary is really something to see. It’s like finding that there is a multi colored Santa Claus. We had also mass at the chapel (make sure to get lunch there).
The tour ended around 2:00 pm. The tour leader gave us the option to get off at Las Ramblas again or go to the hotel. My parents and I opted to go to the hotel since we pretty much saw most of Barcelona and were kind of traumatized from the day before. We pretty much went to Carrefour to get some food and went back to the hotel till 6:00 pm when the tour gave us a goodbye dinner. Surprisingly that Carrefour had really good sushi. At around 6:00 pm, we took the bus to Port Olympico and ate at El Cangrejo Loco (Crazy Crab). It was a good dinner but it could be better. But that view of the Mediterranean was amazing! This ended our night.
Day 12: Breakfast and off to the airport to go home.
Because of the pickpocket incident, we didn’t get to see all of Barcelona that I wanted to see. One thing I missed was the Magic Fountain of Montjuic near the Placa d’Espanya. The bus passed by it when we went sightseeing in the morning but I would have loved to walk around that area and take more pictures and watch the Fountain show at night. You may want to check it out when you’re there on Day 10 (if available); as it is activated only on selected nights.