One of my new year's resolutions of 2016 is to see more of the world, so I decided to not delay getting this into action. Already this year I have travelled to Barcelona, Spain and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Surviving off just two hours of sleep, we began our mini-city break to Barcelona at 2am in the morning.
First things first, where did I stay? Olivia Balmes Hotel... 6th highest rated hotel in Barcelona on Trip Advisor and oh boy, does it deserve that rating! We had barely managed lugging our suitcases through the first door of the hotel before Rafael came to help. We were check-in, offered the wifi password, a complimentary glass of Cava, a map circled with everything we wanted to see and then escorted to our room (where our suitcases waited). Once settled and freshened up we were ready to explore. The hotel is located around 15 minutes away (on foot) from the Plaça de Catalunya, to reach it you have the choice of Carrer de Balmes or Passeig de Gràcia. We took the Passeig de Gracia as there is shops, bars, restuarants and the gorgeous Casa Batllo.
After a few hours of breaking our bank accounts and eating our weight in pastries we headed down to Las Ramblas. Now, a little heads up for people travelling, this is the only place in Barcelona I felt the need to watch my bags and pockets. A road made up of markets, fake Chanel bags, selfie sticks and the odd armed Spanish policeman... I suggest staying away from the strange business men trying to flog you a "new Vera Wang" or getting you to visit their "coffee shops" - Big no no! However, down the little alleyways of this strip you can find some real little gems. We went to one of these gems called Fairy Bar, a quirky bar which recreates a thunderstorm every hour, along with thunder and lightning. Quick tip: The tequila sunrises taste like Haribos and are cheap as chips.
We next headed to Barcelona Cathedral within the Gothic Quarter and then down to the Port of Barcelona for some well deserved tea. We went to a burger bar just off the beach known as Makamaka, hands down, the best burger I've ever tasted in my life.
Day two started with more food, this time in Bar and Restaurant "Milk" found hidden away in the Gothic Quarter. A small, cosy and friendly place where the staff made you feel at home. An inexpensive price tag with absolutely beautiful food. For two hot chocolates, two meals (which were huge), a cocktail and a cup of tea we paid a mere 30 euros between us. I had french toast with Greek yoghurt, winter berries, cinnamon and syrup. De-lisssssssssh.
Next we headed to La Sagrada Familia via Barcelona's Arc De Triomf. One thing that made me fall in love with Barcelona is the effort that has been put into everything, every building has beeen meticulously built and they are all just so gorgeous. La Sagrada Familia is something I recommend everybody visits on a trip to Barcelona, whether your religious or not. The building itself is stunning and 100% worth the trip.
Last but not least, we finished off our little break with cocktails at Carpe Diem. Set right on the beachfront this bar is sure to make you feel like royalty. More expensive than the other places we went to but definitely worth those extra cents. Left to lounge on the sofa beds in the sun with our cocktails (I totally recommend a Rouge Cosmo) we were offered massages and food. Furnished to a high standard with Asian themes, no wonder Carpe Diem is the local celebrity hangout spot.
Are you off on holiday this year? Let me know in the comments below.
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