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Barcelona, Spain, 14th-16th December 2019

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

It was the end of the school term, and after 2 hectic weeks of preparations for tests, I was finally free to travel!

Having planned for this winter trip 3 months back in September, and having been so busy preparing for my tests, it dawned on me that I only had a couple of hours to settle my admin and to pack my bag (for a 13 day trip). Nonetheless, my friends and I still managed to prepare for the trip in time. Jia Wang and I left house in the early morning, meeting Yan Yi at Victoria Coach Station for a 7.20 coach to London Stansted. After burning some time at Stansted, we boarded the 11.45 flight to Barcelona.

Day 1

Upon landing in Barcelona, we were taken aback by the warm weather that greeted us. After joining up with Kirstie and Sheryl, we made our way towards our accommodation. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the accommodation that awaited us, as there was a living room, as well as a kitchen and washing facilities for our perusal. Having skipped lunch, we were famished and thus decided to head a nearby café for dinner. The café that we visited, Indeginas, served Brazilian cuisine, which included tapioca pancakes, as well as beer served with lemon. In all honesty, the beer served tasted too sweet to actually feel like beer, but all in all, the dinner we had was sufficient to fill our stomachs, and we made our way towards the Font Magica de Montjuic.

Tropical Tapioca roll

I met my childhood friend Mingrou at the fountain for some good banter and catch up. Definitely would not have expected that after 13 years, we would end up meeting each other in a country half the world away. After enjoying the lightshow at the fountain, we bade each other goodbye, and headed back to our own respective accommodations.

Group photo at the fountain

After having a delicious Chinese meal for supper, we crashed for the night, excited for what was to await us for the next 12 days.

Chinese Restaurant Menu

Day 2

We woke up and left the apartment at approximately 9.30, and had breakfast at Billy Brunch. Having been to several European countries, I can firmly conclude that the breakfast is quite standard, but delicious nonetheless. I had eggs and toast with a matcha latte, while my friends had toast topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Following breakfast, we walked about the streets of Barcelona, visiting attractions such as the Casa del libre, the Placa de Catalunya, as well as the Barcelona Cathedral. As we were going to visit the Sagrada Famila the next day, we were hesitant about entering the Cathedral, and hence decided to head to the Picasso Museum for some art exposure.

Sights and Sounds of Barcelona

Being an uncultured swine, the Picasso museum proved to be yet another of those museums where I skim through everything in an hour. Nonetheless, the paintings he had were a reminiscent of what I used to work on back in my secondary school days.

Picasso Museum

Following a pretty uneventful time at the Picasso Museum, we had lunch at Bo De Boqueria. The restaurant served really authentic paella and soupy rice, and it was definitely the best paella I have ever had. In addition, the service was wonderful, and I really enjoyed talking to their waiter.

Paella for lunch!

After lunch, we headed to a gelato shop for dessert, before heading to the Barcelona beach. With clear skies, sandy beaches, and a lovely atmosphere, it was a sight to behold. The rocks leading to the pier, as well as the strong sea winds brought back memories of my time in Iceland, and we ended up sitting at the pier watching the sunset. After sunset, we visited a nearby amusement park (which was really quite small and no where near the scale of Hyde Park winter wonderland).

Barcelona Beach

We initially planned to visit Gaudim Restaurant for dinner, but to our disappointment, it was closed on a Sunday, and thus we visited Cerveseria Catalana for dinner. Catalana was unlike other restaurants that I have visited, as they mainly only served Tapas, which is very much akin to side dishes. We ordered a few dishes, consisting of a bit of seafood, some anchovies, mini burgers and mushrooms, as well as some wine and beer, before heading back to our accommodations for the night.

Day 3

We left for breakfast at approximately the same time as we did the day before, eating a full English breakfast set per person. The main highlight of the day was the Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica. The church, being the 3rd largest in the world, has 3 facades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Passion façade to the West, and the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed). The Nativity Façade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. The Passion façade was built according to the design that Gaudi created in 1917. The construction began in 1954, and the steeples, built over the elliptical plan, were finished in 1976. It is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being scourged at the pillar; and Christ on the Cross. These controversial designs are the work of Josep Maria Subirachs. The Glory façade, on which construction began in 2002, will be the largest and most monumental of the three and will represent one's ascension to God. It will also depict various scenes such as Hell, Purgatory, and will include elements such as the Seven deadly sins and the Seven heavenly virtues. (Source: Wikipedia)

The church proved to be one of the most modern churches I have been to, with its own museum and gift shop. In addition, the extremely tall ceilings and the names/pictures of the different saints portrayed on the pillars made the experience even better. I coincidentally met Mingrou at the church (the world is really such a small place), and we chatted a bit before parting ways yet again.

Sagrada Familia

As Kirstie had to leave for the airport, we left the church and headed back to our apartment for some rest and for Kirstie to pick up her belongings. After bidding goodbye to her, we made our way to Gaudim Restaurant, where we met Aloysius (a fellow MHA scholar) and had paellas for lunch. The service at the restaurant was excellent, with the chef telling us about his time in Singapore, and how the rent was so expensive that he did not open a restaurant there. Apart from the shockingly high prices, the food was really good, and we left pretty satisfied.

Lunch with Aloysius at Gaudim restaurant

After lunch, we headed to Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s stadium) to have a look around the stadium. As tickets for a tour around the stadium cost 20 Euros, we decided to merely walk around the perimeter of the stadium and do some window shopping at their store (the shirts actually cost approximately 150 Euros each).

Camp Nou

After our visit to Camp Nou, we bade goodbye to Aloysius, and travelled to Parc Guell to have a look at Gaudi’s works. Unfortunately, by the time we reached there, the sun had already set, and we did not have much time left in the park before it closed. With so much walking leaving us tired, we left for Taverna El Glop, a nearby restaurant, to have even more paellas for dinner.

Park Guell

As the restaurant was considerably far away from the city centre, the prices were much cheaper and the paellas were served in bigger portions. Despite not tasting as good as the other 2 paella meals we had before, they served much more seafood, and it was definitely value for money. Having had our fill, we headed back to our accommodation in preparation for our trip to Prague.

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