The Best of Barcelona – Top things to do on a short break
Barcelona has been on my hot list for some time now, and on being invited to a friend’s wedding in Sitges I was delighted to see that the thoughtful and ever-efficient bride-to-be had organised an itinerary for everyone which included a group trip to Barcelona for a couple of days.
As a former resident of the Spanish city, the ‘wonderbride’ was perfectly positioned to develop a custom-built itinerary (in addition to planning her own wedding and honeymoon at a distance from Dubai!) The tour of course included all of the key tourist attractions in terms of iconic buildings, architecture, parks, markets and marinas, as well as a couple of less well-known haunts such as the Can Paxiano cava bar hidden down a regular side street amongst the old electronic shops! For this post however, I wanted to focus more on an overview of what activities to do for a weekend break, rather than listing my favourite sites from a tourist guide-book:
1. Wander! As the name of the blog suggests, I am a wanderer by name and nature, so this would of course be my natural first recommendation, but I must admit I was not prepared for how big the city is. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wander the different districts – and be inquisitive, I found that every time we turned off the main road down a narrow street, it invariably lead to a beautiful sunny square with cute little tapas bars, cafes and gelaterias, or churches and boutiques.
2. GoCars – These were arranged in advance by the bride and although a little pricey, were fantastic fun and well worth the investment, even in torrential rain! The little open air cars were a cross between a go-cart and a moped which take two people and (rather unbelievably) are allowed on the main roads of Barcelona! Complete with satnav and an audio tour, they are a great (if somewhat hairy!) way of seeing the sights, learning more about them and getting your bearings. We barely stopped laughing for the entire 90 minutes, check out the little selfie video here to see the conditions we endured!
3. Eat pork – and plenty else! As residents of a muslim country, we really made the most of one of the country’s key gastronomic delights, sampling endless varieties of pork products! Whether Serrano ham, Iberian ham, jamon, sausage (chorizo and fuet were my favourites) or blood sausage (like black pudding but much tastier), I think we managed some kind of pork for every meal! All of the Spanish and Catalan foods were fantastic – the tapas was amazing, we had some delicious paella and fidiero (like paella but with noodles), as well as addictive gelato (ice cream) and churros (long thin doughnuts, served with chocolate), and of course all washed down with a various types of cava, sangria and Rioja.
4. Get to the beach! The bride’s comprehensive schedule included lunch at a beach shack on the second day, and after a morning wandering, we unfortunately underestimated the number of beaches and distance to walk along the long promenade! We made it to our rendezvous eventually, and it was well worth it for the best paella and sangrias we have ever had (Chiringuitos on Bodega Beach if you’re interested!) Next time I might be tempted to hire electric bike or scooter for half a day however, to also give us the chance to continue further along the promenade to the quieter beaches.
5. Get out of town! The wedding (and the only reason for being in Spain in the first place) actually took place in Sitges. This seaside town is located a 30-40 minute drive from Barcelona and is renowned as one of the most gay-friendly places in the world. It is a gorgeous little resort with some pretty little beaches (including one rather crowded nudist beach – a startling discovery for our sheltered eyes after living in Dubai!) as well as a cute little old town and some larger than life gay bars and cabaret acts! We had a great few days unwinding here and would highly recommend a visit, I’d also suggest going out into the countryside around Barcelona as what we saw during our limited time was beautiful. The wedding was held at a vineyard half an hour outside of Sitges and was probably the most stunning wedding venue I have ever seen and well worth a visit for the views as well as the grapes!
I’m returning home a few kilos heavier, with sore feet, big bags under my eyes and I suspect a slightly exhausted liver, but it was a fantastic few days and I am very grateful to the bride and groom, who not only looked amazing, but who also shared such a wonderful experience with their friends and family. I’ll be sure to share more on future posts!