After waiting six years to return to the first city ever to steal my heart, I was so excited to get out and explore Barcelona again! After leaving the beautiful sunshine and warmth in Rome, we decided to head straight for a coffee to warm up and start our day at the cafe we’d fallen in love with six years ago. Turns out, a lot can change in six years, and although I still loved how Spanish the place was, the coffee was awful and we were soon on our way.
Stretching all the way from Placa de Catalunya, La Rambla is arguably one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. Making our way from the square to the marina, we spotted a couple of churches that had people wandering in and out. Not ones to miss out, we popped in to the first one and took a seat, unsure why it was so so busy in there.
We’d managed to find ourselves in a church service, again. Waiting what we felt was an appropriate amount of time, we quietly slipped out the side door. I wish I could say we learnt our lesson, but as we neared the bottom of La Rambla we spotted another church that looked really quirky. Thinking Sunday services must be over by now, but thinking we’d check before getting caught up again, we popped our heads in. Unfortunately for us, we’d walked straight into another Sunday service, this time in a language we didn’t understand and with people crying at the front. Bit more tricky to sneak out of that one.
Deciding Sunday wasn’t the best day to be enjoying a quick visit in churches, we carried on to the marina via a cool pop-up market selling a ton of vintage goods, including a box full of old postcards, to try our luck with a spot of shopping to get some jackets – it was too cold! As the sun began to break through the clouds, we ditched the shopping and moved on to Barceloneta for some exploring! Passing yet more mini markets and a bubble blowing man by the giant lobster, it was on to my favourite area of Barcelona – El Born. The narrow streets, stunning architecture and general feel of the district always draws me in, and after stopping for a bite to eat in Pan and being shamed for not ordering in Spanish, we made a beeline for the cathedral.
Barcelona Cathedral is a stunning church, but is most definitely overshadowed by the awesome Sagrada Familia. The surrounding square is full of life, with bustling cafes, occasional markets and throngs of tourists. As we approached, the wind was really beginning to pick up, causing everything in the antiques market to go flying. As the stall owners all ran to help each other and close up, we joined the queue to enter the cathedral and had to shield our eyes from all the dust flying around. We’d quickly forgotten about our ‘no more churches on Sunday’ idea, but thankfully we were able to wander around the cathedral without interrupting any more services.
Next on the hit list was the Gothic quarter, another favourite of mine for the same character-filled reasons I love the Born district. The rain that had been threatening throughout the day finally dropped, and we popped in to Santa Maria del Pi while waiting for it to pass. Yep, definitely ignoring the ‘no more churches on a Sunday’ rule! With only a couple of other people in the church, we were able to get a real feel for the place, and stepped out to glorious sunshine. Wow, the weather in Barcelona just couldn’t make up its mind!
By this point, shops were starting to close and streets were emptying. Making our way back to the hotel for a quick nap before dinner, I was starting to worry. The next day was my boyfriend’s 30th birthday, and his parents were flying to Barcelona to meet us for the day. Knowing that they were landing late and wanting to time it so they could surprise my boyfriend today, I let him sleep for much longer than needed, waking him about 9pm se we could head out for dinner.
As it was late, we decided to eat at the same place as last night as it was close by, amazing food and very reasonably priced. While receiving constant updates from my boyfriends parents, I tried to let the meal last as long as possible, even resorting to letting my boyfriend explain the offside rule to me! Desperate times…desperate times…
Finally getting the ok from my boyfriends mum that they’d arrived at the hotel and were safely hidden, we wandered back with a slight sense of alarm. There were police. Everywhere. After having my bag searched on the street, we weren’t sure what was going on until we passed La Rambla and spotted hundreds of people celebrating, singing, chasing, lighting fireworks. It turns out Barcelona had won La Liga while we’d been at dinner, and the celebrations looked so much fun but we couldn’t stop as I knew what was at the hotel waiting for us!
Making my excuses, we arrived back to the hotel where the surprise was perfectly executed! All that time of keeping it to myself, and I could finally let slip! We enjoyed a few drinks together before his parents went off to check in to their room and we popped back to La Rambla to see what was going on, before also turning in for the night. Tomorrow was going to be super busy as I’d purposefully saved the best bits for when we were all together. I couldn’t wait!!