Solo travel adventures - Barcelona

in GEMSlast year

Did you enjoy exploring Lisbon with me? And are you ready for Barcelona?

Let's start!!!

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I had to wake up at 3.50 AM to catch my flight. It actually didn't really matter as I was so excited that I couldn't sleep anyway.

I arrived in Barcelona just after 9 AM. I took a taxi and came to the hotel before 10 AM. My room was not ready yet so I left my luggage there and started to explore the city.

I was lucky that my hotel was in El Born, just 5 minutes walk from Arc de Triomf so I decided that I'll check it out first.

The arch is located on Passeig de Lluís Companys and was built in 1888. It was designed by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas. It is different to any other arches that I have seen so far.

It is not only the red bricks making a great contrast to the vibrant blue Spanish skies and smaller size that make a difference but also the purpose why it was built. It is a civil monument rather than a military one.

It was built to mark the entry to the event called Universal Exposition - festival of nations that was held in Park de la Ciutadella. There were more than 2 million people visiting the event from all over the world. The arch was constructed as a mark of respect to the countries that were participating in the festival.

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There is a long palm tree-lined street, all the way down to the park. Turn around when you're at the end of the street to enjoy the arch from the distance. I really like the view. There are many cyclists, joggers and skaters enjoying the nice weather. I know it doesn't look crowded on this picture but I was waiting for the best moment to take a shot - I couldn't wait anymore for these two 'love birds' kissing right in front of my camera as it looked like they wouldn't finish any time soon 😊

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The street from Arc de Triomp will lead you directly to beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella. The admission to the park is free.

You can go there for a walk, enjoy a picnic with your friends, sit on a bench and read a book, play games with your kids or do whatever you like to do in a park. It is a beautiful place with various types of plants and trees. There are huge palm trees, pine trees and deciduous trees as well as different bushes, plants and flowers. It truly is a green oasis in the city center.

But I couldn't enjoy it as much as I would like to as there is sand and tiny stones on the paths and it was very windy so I had sand in my eyes, hair and actually everywhere. I had the same experience in Versailles. It would be much better if they used something different for the paths. I'm not the expert so I don't know what it could be but I'm sure there is something better 😊

On the grounds of the park, there are several attractions: The Museu d'Art Modern, The Zoological Museum and the Museu de Geologia. You can also find there the building of Catalan Parliament. But honestly, I was more interested in this mammut hidden between the trees.

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Just before I came, there was a daddy taking a picture of his son who was sitting on the back of the mammut. I was just hoping he wouldn't fall. But he was lucky and now he has a cool picture to show to his friends.

The park is (in my opinion) dominated by Cascada - it is a fountain with waterfall and it refers to the triumphal arch. The Baroque construction was designed by Josep Fontsère and supported by Gaudí. The water basin in front of the fountain is guarded by winged dragons that are commonly found in Gaudí's work.

It really is an eye catcher. But when you climb to the top you will be unpleasantly surprised by stench of urine. The view of the surroundings was still worth it, just keep this in mind.

I loved the water color in the basin. I was also sprayed with water because of the strong wind. It was very refreshing as it was very hot outside.

There is a cafe hidden under the trees next to the fountain so I went there to get some fresh juice and enjoy the view of the fountain for a little longer. I started to become tired as it was a short night for me and it was also very hot so just sitting and drinking cold juice helped me to recharge my batteries as I wanted to visit Sagrada Familia on the first day too.

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Barcelona is much bigger than Lisbon and as I was so tired last week I decided to get a ticket for public transport (EUR 22 for 3 days). I have checked the metro map and it seemed very easy to navigate so I thought I would save some time and effort as well. My first metro trip would be to Sagrada Familia. As I thought before it was really easy to navigate and get there.

But who would have thought that the tickets were sold out for the day? Lesson learned - get a ticket online.

What do I do now? Explore the surroundings! This is how I found Hospital de Sant Pau. At the beginning I had no idea what it was as it wasn't in my itinerary but there was a guide standing in front of the building and explained to me that it was an old hospital complex (functioning until 2009) and now it is a museum and world heritage site.

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I thought, let's be spontaneous and give it a try! And you know what? It was the right decision as I now think that it is a must see location in Barcelona! It is one of my favorites!

The admission to the complex is EUR 14. The visit begins in the exhibition space in the Sant Salvador Pavilion, summarizing the history of the Hospital de Sant Pau that was first founded in 1401. It was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (Gaudí's mentor) between 1901 and 1930 in classic Catalan Art Noveau style.

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At the beginning of the tour there is a small room with panels explaining each of the buildings that make up the whole hospital. There is also a small model right next to the panels that shows all buildings, towers and gardens in great detail. The complex looks like a small city!

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After the tour of first pavilion you can enjoy the gardens inside of the complex. You will have all beautiful buildings around you. Domènech i Montaner was concerned not only about designing an efficient hospital, but he also wanted to create a space that could heal both the body and the soul of the patients. The place is very calm and the atmosphere very relaxing. Take a seat on a bench under the orange tree, admire the buildings and let the smell of lavender wash over you, as you listen to birds chirping above your head. This is the best place to eat your snack!

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You should visit all buildings that are opened to public (some of them are closed due to the continuous renovation) to admire the beautiful interior and various mosaics found on the walls and ceilings. The level of detail outside and inside of the buildings is breathtaking.

It is hard to believe that this was an actual hospital. I bet you haven't seen such hospital before!

The complex was opened for public in 2014 and I think it's not listed as one of top locations in Barcelona yet so you can take an advantage and go there before it is discovered by others!

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Let me share with you a funny story that happened to me in this complex. There is a room with a video showing visitors a documentary about history of the hospital. I sat down next to a guy who was already there. Right after the presentation I stood up, took a mobile phone that was next to me on a bench and continued the tour. It took me a few seconds to realize that I took his phone! He was just staring at me with a grin on his face as he probably understood I didn't want to steal it. It was so awkward! I returned him the phone, said sorry and ran away very embarrassed. I blame it on the lack of sleep!

Once I finished the excursion of the hospital I went for dinner and then to the hotel as it was a long day for me.

And do you remember when I told you that I don't normally use public transport? Guess what! Once I buy a ticket for 3 days and I manage to lose it the same day! Can I blame it on a lack of sleep too? 😊

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my first day in Barcelona.