From Barcelona With Love (AKA Tales from my Holibobs: Part Two)

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This morning Facebook informed me that today is the first day of summer and although the sun has put in an appear over the last hour or so, today has mainly been dark and gloomy and rainy. I'm not going to moan as it means I got to go for a walk with my gorgeous daisy umbrella and if you give it a couple more weeks they'll probably be announcing a hosepipe ban anyway!

With 53 days to go until my next holiday I realised I am probably better off cherishing the sunnier moments from my holiday back in May and I thought I'd share them with you today. (Better late than never seems to be my most used line, but it's true.) Back in April I wrote about how Barcelona became one of my favourite places to visit and on Monday 9 May I boarded a plane from Gatwick to go back there for the fifth time. 

When I booked the holiday towards the end of last year I was so excited, but in the run up to it I have to admit I was feeling less than enthusiastic. I was feeling a little down about my lack of gusto for the trip and wondered whether I should have just cancelled it when I moved back home with Mum. The fact that thunderstorms were forecast for most of the week probably didn't help either.

Despite the forecast apparently being true as we landed in torrential rain, my mood lifted as we walked out of Barcelona-El Prat and made our way to the bus stop. That tingling anticipation of being in my favourite place in the world had returned.

Later I spoke to Mum about how I had been feeling and we decided that we had probably both been concentrating so much on getting through the Isle of Wight and saying goodbye to Nan and Granddad that we hadn't given ourselves the chance to actually look forward to going to Barcelona. Now we were here, we were determined to make the most of it, whatever the weather!

In a change from my usual choice of hotel when staying in Barcelona, we treated ourselves to one that is right on La Rambla and just a minute's walk from Plaça de Catalunya. I am always nervous about speaking Spanish as I know I'm not very good, but the gentleman on reception was so happy and encouraging that I enjoyed practising with him. As our flight landed early evening, we were quite hungry by the time we got to the hotel. 

We decided to have dinner at my favourite place to eat in the city - Flaherty's Irish Pub. Most people see it as a cop out to go to an Irish pub while in Spain, but it is right opposite the university I went to while on placement and I have very fond (though sometimes hazy) memories as I went there most days be it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a drink between lectures, cocktails or just to watch the football (yes, I used to enjoy watching football).
On Tuesday morning we walked the short way to Plaça de Catalunya and enjoyed a spot of people watching over breakfast. We then went to the bus stop and bought a two-day pass for the Barcelona Bus Turístic. I swear I have used this every time I've gone to Barcelona. There are three different routes that take you around the main tourist hotspots. I love it because you can hop on and off as many times as you want and you can get to see the city instead of sitting on the Metro. It's worth every penny, particularly as it comes with a discount booklet for lots of different tourist attractions and fast food outlets.
The destination for the first full day of our holiday was Mount Tibidabo. It's something that I had never done on any of my previous visits so I was quite excited. We took the Funicular del Tibidabo up to the summit on what was looking to be a glorious day. Once you get up to the summit there isn't actually much up there apart from the Amusement Park, the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor and a pretty awesome view of the city. I'd also heard about a geocache in amongst all the love locks that can be found at one of the viewpoints, but we weren't able to find it. 
Once we had taken lots of photos we took the funicular back down the mountain and then strolled down to the bus stop so we could get the bus back to La Rambla. We had lunch at a lovely little pizzeria and decided that we'd go back to the hotel for a rest before going back out. Shortly after we got to our room we heard the rain start to fall. It rained and rained and rained. That evening we ended up dashing to the supermarket for some snacks and went back to our room via the ice cream parlour and watched NCIS dubbed in either Spanish or Italian.
Wednesday was the last day that we had our bus ticket so we decided to make the most of it. Mum was sure that she hadn't been to Montjuïc so we decided to go while the weather was good in case it took a turn for the worse again. We took the funicular up the hill using the discount from our tourist bus booklet, but the walk up the hill is also very pleasant. Once we were up there we had a leisurely stroll around the castle ruins. In the past I've run around the city like a loon trying to fit everything in as I've usually gone with someone who hasn't been before. This time it was wonderful to just enjoy being in a place that I love and not having to rush.
Once we'd had enough of walking we got the bus to Port Olímpic and had lunch at another one of my favourite places to eat - Crêperie Bretonne Annaíck. Apart from the fact that I love a crepe, savoury or sweet, the kitchen is a silver double decker bus. I love it!
After lunch we took yet another stroll along the beach. Despite the weather the previous two days it was actually quite warm and if we'd thought about putting our swimsuits on under our clothes, we could have had a little dip. As it was we just enjoyed the feel of the sun on our face as we walked back to La Rambla.
Thursday was our last full day in the city and we decided to just have a shopping day so we wandered mainly around the Barri Gòtic. It was another beautiful day apart from one quick shower. We ended our holiday with another meal at the Irish Pub mainly because we wanted to celebrate the holiday with a few cocktails. I'm sure by the time you're in your 30s its OK to be a bit tipsy in the presence of your mum, especially when she is too, right...?
I had a lovely weekend away and it was just what I needed. I can't wait to go back to Barcelona, hopefully in the not too distant future and go full on tourist again. Until then, goodbye you crazy, beautiful city.

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