A weekend trip to the magnificent Barcelona

Luke Whitaker

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I’m quite lucky to have a grandfather with a Wikipedia page. I’m also quite lucky that my other grandfather is Catalan. This means I’ve been to Catalunya quite often over the years. It never gets boring. This past weekend was the first of the usual 4 to 6 times over the academic year I visit Barcelona in between summers. I read an article on another favourite city of mine, Brussels on the site when we first started so I’ve decided to do a similar thing about Barcelona. I’ve spent about a third of my life in Barcelona so I didn’t take any photos except from personal photos that I’m not going to share on this, although no one probably won’t be reading any of this!

I left for Barcelona on Thursday evening and arrived at my family’s holiday house in Ciutat Vella, one of the oldest parts of the city, near the heart of the city, at around 22:30. All I could do on Thursday therefore was a small walk down around the city.

Beach in Barcelona near the W building or Hotel Vela/Credit @vinzii94 on Instagram
Beach in Barcelona near the W building or Hotel Vela/Credit @vinzii94 on Instagram

Friday was good, there’s always something new to do in Barcelona. This time my elder brother brought a friend over – his first visit, so I hung out with them for the morning. We did all the touristy parts like heading down to the beach which even in mid-October is packed with locals and tourists alike. The three of us then travelled on the train to Dreta de l’Eixample for the renowned Catalan bistro that is Embat.  L’Eixample is a beautiful part of the city, with rich buildings and shops. We then took the metro to the docklands area of the city and met up with my cousins and the parents of my three year old godson. We then split up with my brother and his friend going to the cultural parts of the city, my godsons parents going off alone, leaving me with my “homie” Leon. Which was awesome. Leon and I went shopping in the big American-style shopping centre on the harbour called Maremagnum.  We then went to the nearby aquarium at the harbour too. The aquarium was fantastic for me so imagine what it would’ve been like for a three year old boy!

Sunset at the harbour in Barcelona/credit @silviamdi on Instagram
Sunset at the harbour in Barcelona/credit @silviamdi on Instagram

There are many shopping districts in the heart of Barcelona so it is probably a haven for the stereotypical female. We went to El Raval which is a series of one-off boutiques where I bought myself and Leon close-enough-to-look-twice similar hoodies. Now we were true homies.

For dinner, all six of us joined up back in l’Eixample in the fancy Asian restaurant Indochine Ly Leap, where we ate and shared what we did over the previous 4 to 5 hours. My brother and his friend – in Barcelona for the first time – did all the main touristy things that you’ll find in a brochure or on a travel website. They travelled around the city to do things like go to La Rambla which is near the docklands. It’s a beautiful boulevard of old buildings and shops. They walked through the Plaça Reial and the nearby Liceu opera house.

Liceu opera house in Barcelona/credit @ayatsmireia on Instagram
Liceu opera house in Barcelona/credit @ayatsmireia on Instagram

They then went to nearby city hall in Plaça de Sant Jaume, and to the Roman building called Temple Romà D’Auguste. La Catherdal is nearby too.

As for my cousins/Leon’s parents they had a romantic stroll through the city and travelled on the hot air balloon on a two hour trip all across the astonishing Catalan country which makes California look like North Korea. After dinner we strolled through the city at night as a group of six. Barcelona is one of the safer cities in continental Europe from my experience. Saying that I’ve never been robbed Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Brussels, Auckland or Bournemouth.  The five best and greatest places on earth. According not just to me but to any and all world traveller, ask any of them, they’ll say those five.  I haven’t been robbed here in Ireland either.

Saturday was the reason why I went to Barcelona. Not so much for the stunning morning walk up the Sants Muntjuic, the big mountain, but for the afternoon event which I’ll mention soon. But first, there are many routes of varying distances and levitation on the big Sant Montjuic. We did a 8 mile round trip which is quite enough for me, Leon walked 6 out of the 8 miles, which could is heroic.

View of the mountain Sants Montjuic/credit my own
View of the mountain Sants Montjuic/credit my own

After this me, Leon and his father travelled north to FC Barcelona’s stadium for their home league match against Deportivo La Coruna. Which Leon’s first match other than Ireland back home. The match was great Barcelona won 4-0.

Pre-match view at the Camp Nou/credit my own
Pre-match view at the Camp Nou/credit my own

It was a great match, no matter how many times you’ve been there, and I’ve been to many over the years, it never gets boring. This is because at the Camp Nou, who aren’t treated to a performace where 22 men run around helplessly chasing a ball, you are treated to watching the so-called MSN play. Leon was in awe too!

During the match at the Camp Nou/credit my own
During the match at the Camp Nou/credit my own

We travelled back into near city centre El Poble-Sec after the match to join the others for dinner again. We ate the brilliant tapas bar Quimet & Quimet. During the match my brother and his non-loving football friend went on an organised electric bike tour of the city. I will do this next time I go to Barcelona as it sounded great. Again after dinner we rambled around the city for a walk. That night was a Netflix night as I babysat Leon and his parents went out to a bar. My brother and his friend went to enjoyed a ‘night out in the town’. I’m not interested in nightclubs and late nights so go to a different website for the night life experience in Barcelona. I had ‘steak’ at home minding Leon while, to me at least, my brother and his friend went out for a ‘burger’ by going out in a not-to-be-home-before-4:30am drinking binge.

Sunday was our final day. We were on an late evening flight home to Dublin. Leon and I made the most of our day which consisted of going the Parc de la Ciutadella and in particular the zoo. His parents went to the Sunday markets in La Boqueria. We then had a late lunch in our three separate groups of two before meeting up for one last walk through the city. We then travelled back to our house, got to the airport, flew back and were all in our different houses in Dublin by 10pm that night. Ready for pre-school, college and work the next day.

Of course there are dozens upon dozens of more things to do in Barcelona. I spend all summer there (also travelling to different countries in continental Europe like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and the brilliant Belgium) but I hope this was a quick but comprehensive look – perhaps showcasing the three major types of city breaks being with mates, being a romantic trip and travelling with a child – into Barcelona, the Catalan capital.

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Luke Whitaker