Barcelona — “Cap i Casal de Catalunya!”
This lovely city played host for the weekend layover that bookended my Málaga Adventure, so I didn’t visit many “must see” places. I simply enjoyed riding around the city and snapping photos of “City Life.”
Although this was a weekend layover, Barcelona was still a blast!! There is so much to do and see in this town that a weekend, or two, isn’t enough. Nevertheless, I explored as much as I could during my four total days in town.
I enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Goodman & Filippo before boarding my Lufthansa flight to Barcelona.
The flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona was uneventful, even with all the COVID-19 protocols and requirements. It was very pleasant being on an airplane and not having any commotions about wearing a mask. People wore their masks and obeyed aircrew instructions. No flight delays or issues. Only trouble I had was my seat and not having any leg room.
Seriously! I’m only 1.6256 meters tall (64 inches or 5’4 to us Americans).
ARRIVAL IN SPAIN
I presented my mandatory Spanish Health Form upon arrival and passed through immigration/customs without any issues. Seriously, it too me longer to fill out the form and upload my documentation, which I did before leaving Germany. I did find it nice that they Health Agency sent me a text message with information about medical assistance should I need it during my stay in their country. #Awesome
After grabbing my luggage, I met up with my Welcome Pickups driver, Ivan. Once again, Welcome Pickups provided amazing service, and thirty minutes later, I was checking into my hotel for the first weekend in town.
I’d recommend the Hotel Jazz to anyone planning to visit Barcelona for a few days. It is centrally located, with only a 5-minute walk to Plaça de Catalunya — a large central area that is the home to many shopping centres, restaurants and local transportation. The hotel’s staff was very helpful and respectful. Also, the Wi-Fi worked well enough, though I didn’t have a very strong signal being on the interior sixth floor.
I splurged a bit and booked the superior double room, although a normal double room would’ve been just as comfortable. My room was very spacious and I didn’t bump into things trying to move around as I had in my hotel room in Vienna. The bathroom was a decent size, but the best bit was being able to move around and sit on the toilet without having to turn sideways and back into the entire bathroom.
Sounds funny until you get stuck between the shower and the bathroom door when you’re trying to get off the toilet.
Getting in and out of the tub was a struggle, but I always enjoy a nice soak after a day of walking. I actually chose this hotel because all their double rooms came with tubs. Many hotels now only have tubs in their suites.
The only real issue was with the breakfast service. The breakfast was decent, edible and filling. But service was a bit disorganized. Almost seemed like anyone could walk in, eat and leave and no one would even know. I was nearly done with my breakfast before anyone approached me to inquire whether I had purchased breakfast.
FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON BARCELONA DIAGONAL
I stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal on the second weekend. Overall, I had a lovely 2-night stay here. It’s away from tourist attractions, but still easy to reach via public transportation.
My room was typical Marriott brand deluxe room. The Classic King Bed was big & comfortable. The Wi-Fi was very weak on the sixth floor and TV had only two channels in English (both news channels), and the option to change the audio was disabled. Again, very upset Marriott disable the settings option on the remote and television.
Breakfast was filling and had a decent spread. The breakfast was standard continental with some hot items like eggs and bacon, but it was only €10 when booked at check-in. Again, I loved that there was a kettle in the room to make coffee, and also the coffee in the lobby.
The hotel and area was very quiet and restful, which is exactly what I needed after my Málaga Adventure. Oh, plus I had to write a research paper for school at the same time, so a quiet hotel and free coffee were bonuses.
HOP ON/HOP OFF
Most of my Barcelona exploration was done during the first weekend. Since I only had one-full day to explore, I thought the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour was a nice way to see the highlights of this nice city.
Normally, my Hop On/Hop Off experiences are quite decent and enjoyable. My Barcelona experience was too, for the most part. Obviously, no one wants to deal with a rude customer service representative who brought her nasty attitude to work that day. I and another patron inquired about the bus routes, since routes had changed due to some construction. Simple question asked with politeness and respect.
What did we get in return? A representative copping an attitude and blowing us off as if she couldn’t be bothered to help paying customers.
I understand the lady gets asked many similar questions every day, and she must get tired of them. But if you don’t like the job, find another. Don’t get pissy and cop an attitude with paying customers. And yes, I did report this during my customer service satisfaction survey.
Bad attitude aside, the ride/tour was quite peaceful and pleasant. A little tip — always try to start early and get the first bus of the day. It’s usually less people on the first bus and the bus spends a minute or two longer at each stop, so extra time to take photos if the stop isn’t your intended destination. The tour took about 2.5 hours to complete.
Well I think it was 2.5 hours. I don’t know for sure because I fell asleep and ended up going around again. Haha. Not too upset about that because it gave me another chance to get some nice photos of La Sagrada Familia.
LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is, of course, one of the “must visit” places when exploring Barcelona, according to every Top Ten Things to do in Barcelona web site I visited.
My initial plan was to Hop Off and tour the famous basilica. However, the €27 guided tour didn’t include access to the towers, which is a major bummer. Also, the site was really crowded, even the ‘skip-the-line’ queue was long. COVID-19 is still a threat, so I didn’t want to take the chance, particularly since I was scheduled to travel to Málaga and Gibraltar the next day.
So best to photograph the unbelievable structure from the outside and plan a tour when I have more time to explore, & COVID isn’t a major threat.
Next up was visiting La Pedrera, or “The Stone Quarry.” It’s better known as Casa Milà. It was the last private residence designed by architect Antoni Gaudí, and built between 1906 and 1912. What a very beautiful building.
Unfortunately, I forgot to book my ticket in advance, so there were no slots available to go inside and tour. However, it was still a joy to take photos, including a few selfies to show my regular travel buddy Laura, who was stuck in the USA and couldn’t travel with me. #NextTimeForSure
I’ll travel anywhere for good food, and Barcelona has very many choices. Some were excellent and some were okay. Then there were those restaurants I’d never eat in again.
KYOKA GLÒRIES — Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The restaurant wasn’t terrible, but they seriously need to spend more time cleaning the floors! Ate here twice because it was close to the hotel. Food was filling and service was okay. However, the floors were quite dirty both times I went. Overall, not a bad meal because I was hungry, but I think next time I’d walk a bit more for a nicer place, and not settle for the restaurant across the street.
DIM SUM HOUSE — Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
If it wasn’t for the cheap set menu, I would’ve kept walking and found something else. The menu was reasonably priced & had some decent options. The wonton soup was hot and had some flavor. The duck was crispy but had no flavor at all. The flan was really disappointing. It tasted store-bought and not freshly made. Sorry but I won’t be visiting the Dim Sum House again on my next trip to Barcelona.
HARD ROCK CAFÉ – BARCELONA — Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
When the Hard Rock Café is literally around the corner from your hotel, it’s kinda hard not to stop by for an American meal. Overall, this was not a bad experience. Menu was standard HRC. I chose the nachos and cheesecake. Both were good and filling. Customer service was awesome. Had a nice meal without any drama.
I didn’t really plan to visit anything other than Basílica de la Sagrada Família and Casa Milà due to scheduling.
So how did I spend the rest of my visit?