Wandering in Barcelona: A local perspective (CENTRE)

Hello wanderers! I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Barcelona. So this is the city, and nearby places, guide from a local perspective. I will show you most of the tourist attractions and the hidden gems of Barcelona.

Aside from the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, this city, bathed by the waters of the Mediterranean sea, hides marvelous crannies all around. This post is the first of 2.

We are going to talk about the center of Barcelona. In the next one we will review places such as Tibidabo, Parc Güell, Gràcia,…that are a little further than these ones, but are completely worth the visit.

First of all, we, people from Barcelona, orient ourselves with the Tibidabo mountin and the beach. Each one on an opposite side.

Plaza Catalunya is the heart of Barcelona, people meet there, the train station is under the square, basically it is the core of the city. There is El Corte Ingles, an enormous department store of 8 flats where you can find whatever you want to and Fnac, a music and books store.

Once there we can decide whether we want to go to La Rambla and Portal de l’Angel (both following the direction to the beach) or Passeig de Gracia (to the mountain).

La Rambla is the most walked street in Barcelona, and the most popular. You can walk along la Rambla and see little shops and tents that sell flowers, ice cream, newspaper, magazines and souvenirs that fill the street.

Half way through la Rambla we find La Boqueria. It is a MUST! Our local market is one of the bests in the entire world, you can find fruit, candy, meat,… from all around the globe, and super cheap! If you are a backpacker, or want to save money go to la Boqueria you can have a nice meal for 2€. And there are delicatessen such as chocolate strawberries, fruit salad (macedonia in the local language), smoothies, and weird food you won’t find anywhere else in the city such as ostrich’s eggs, exotic fruits,…

In front of la Boqueria is the Erotic Museum, for those how want to learn more about the sexy world of the Hindu Kama Sutra, erotic art, the origins of Spanish pornographic cinema, the history of erotic art through the eyes of the great masters of painting and the most astonishing sexual records, although it is not really visited by locals it is always full of tourists who take pictures of a Marilyn Monroe in the balcony. So look up at the balcony and take a picture of her!

At almost the end of la Rambla there is the wax Museum, please don’t expect it to be like Madam Tussauds. I don’t recommend going there, but a lot of tourists go. It is not worth it.

At the end of la Rambla there’s Colombus statue. Go there and take a picture riding one of the lions statues. If you want you can also go to the top of the statue. There’s an elevator inside the statue.

Next to the statue

is the port, were you can go and take a tourist boat that shows you Barcelona from the sea, and Maremagnum shopping center (it is opened on Sundays!)

By the see there’s the  promenade full of palm trees and scultures. Take some pictures there!

You can go to la Barceloneta beach, full of chiringuitos (Beach clubs and bars) and cool places like surf schools, boat renting houses and more. It is the favourite beach for tourist and some locals! You can also go to la Mar Bella beach, the favourite of young locals!

El Parc de la Ciutadella is not far from there and it is an underrated sight of Barcelona! This amazing park in the centre of the city has the zoo inside, the Parliment of Catalonia, some buildings such as schools, greenhouses,… but the most beautiful highlights there are Cascada Monumental (monumental waterfall) and the lake, where you can rent rowing boats. Please don’t go without visiting this park, it is completely worth it!

Arc del Triomf (Arch of Triumph) is 4 minutes away. Go there and enjoy watching people making huge soap bubbles, and maybe explode some! Who doesn’t like that!

Now it’s time to go back, Born street is a not so known place but definitely wonderful. It is known for handmade studios and workshops. Now it’s the moment you’re all waiting for! Get lost and wander in the Gothic Quarter. It is also a nice place to eat, beautiful and not as price as la Rambla. So put the map inside your bag and go on an adventure! You will find the most amazing and eccentric places there. This is my favourite nook of Barcelona, so have a nice time there!

Don’t forget to visit MACBA, a contemporary art museum in Barcelona well-known all around the world.

Let me what you think below in the comments! There is another post about Barcelona, the north part. Hope you enjoy it!

And remember, if you are planning to come to Barcelona, or you are already here, tell me and maybe we can go out for a drink or a walk!

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A new beggining! SOLO TRAVEL in Belgium! (with no money)

Hello World!

A few months ago I decided to change my life. I realized we wait all week for Friday, all year for summer (I was in that stage, and I am still working on it) and all life for happiness. I decided while in economics class to go online and look for a ticket somewhere far, trying to escape from mundane.

My surprise: I found a bus ticket from Barcelona, my hometown, to Brussels in Belgium for just 1€!!! How could I not get it? So I did, at age 18 I bought my first ticket. My excitement in that moment cannot be expressed in words. All I ever wanted in life was to explore the unknown and is becoming a reality. I was doing instead of dreaming.

When I told my mother I was going to travel through Belgium alone, and that I only had a single ticket without return, she got really nervous but after several days showing her where I would be, the places, couchsurfing (I will talk later on this topic),… she let me go.

First of all: How did I get the 1€ ticket? There is a company called Megabus that sometimes has tickets at that prices in Europe and USA. You can get the tickets 3 months in advance. They charge you 0.5€ as a fee so the final price was 1.5€! The trip was 23 hours long, with a 4 hour stop in Paris.

paris
River Sienne in Paris, near the Megabus stop.

Two weeks later I received an email from Ryanair, they had offers, so I checked it and voilà, Brussels-Barcelona for 14.99€. Can you believe it? So I got it.

The new challenge: I had to carry all of my stuff for 14 days in a 30L backpack.

Megabus experience:

Advice, bring a lot of things to keep you distracted, it’s a loooong trip. Every 4 hours or so the bus will stop so you can go to the bathroom, and walk a little bit, get some groceries,…

Crossing France was a delightful experience, it made the hours seem minutes.

Also, even though they say they have free WIFI, they don’t. They tell you that it doesn’t work, in both of the buses I went on.

Furthermore, I arrived in Brussels at 3 am, so I was alone, in the freezing night of Belgium waiting outside of the North Station for 2 hours since they opened the station, and they let us sleep in some benches till 6 am, then they woke us up, because people were starting to use the transport.

I spent 3 hours wandering in Brussels, I visited Mannekin Pis, the Grand Place, la Bourse, Mont de les Arts (my favourite view),… This is the link for the post where I talk about the attractions, seesights, activities,... (my next post is just for the activities, places to see, things to do,…)

Then I went to meet my Couchsurfing host!!! It was my first time doing Couchsurfing! And I only have to say one thing: It is the best discover on this trip!

Couchsurfing Experience:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the feeling of welcoming, and unity that gives you couchsurfing is inexplicable.

I stayed with 3 different couchsurfers:

  • First in Brussels with “Querido” an experienced host with over 270 references and the greatest heart. He has been the main point in this chapter of my life. He taught me to be more confident, to love myself, to be different. I cannot put into words how much meeting him has changed  my life. While I stayed with him (the first time because I missed him so much and told him if I could go back and spend some time together) I stayed with a lot of people, one day we were 7 surfers and the host. We were all from different places, Brazil, Russia, Quebec, France, Spain and so on. Home is where the heart is, and a piece of my heart will ever stay at his house.

couch

  • Then in Brugge I spend 2 nights with Tom, a 30 year-old  wise man with an amazing taste in music and health knowledge. He lived and alternative life, outside of what society was expecting him to be. We did a tour in Brugge and took the bike and went to Holland (yeah I was exhausted hahaha)
  • Finally, in Dinant, I stayed with Valerie, an amazing girl who prepared an improvised room in the garage for me, so sweet. Even though she was sick, we got to know each other one night while we played the guitar and talked about degrowth and alternative economics, really deep hahaha. And her terrace had the best view ever.

balcon-diinnant

To sum up with, please try Couchsurfing, it will make your heart and soul grow, but don’t use it as an hostel. Couchsurfing is about connecting with people, so talk, cook, play, sing, dream together. You won’t regret.

Food and other expenses:

I spent, more or less, 20€ in food. I ate very little, I should have planned a little bit more. So my advice, keep in mind what to eat and how much you eat while traveling.

I had normally dinner at home (couchsurfing) and when I was out I went to a supermarket and grab some piece of fruit and bread, or a bag of salad. I carried some food in the bag so I had snacks and cereal. I went twice to an Italian takeaway place in Brugge, a nice pasta bowl was only 3.5€ and I went to Subway in Ghent once.

I walked 160 km in 10 days just to save money from the transport hahahha. You don’t have to do that. If you are under 26, a Rail Pass all over Belgium (10 trips) is 51€, if you are older is 76, if I remember well. But I got mine from a girl who only used 3 trips, for 25€.

Also, in Brussels there is a place called USE IT, where there is free WIFI, free lockers, free maps and guides made by locals (they saved me from getting lost too many times, so worth it and they tell you places to get free water, cheap menus, free museums,…), free coffee and tea, chargers, computers, and free tours on Monday noon, I talk here about it. Please go if you can, you will see the city as never before, with all his secrets, and uniqueness.

Please put in the comments below any question you might have! And let me know what you think about the post and future post you want me to do! Thank you! :)