DSC_9976web

 Barcelona, Barcelona! T’estimo!


 

When it comes to taking a well sought after vacation, I have never felt that 7 days is ever truly enough of a timescale to fully immerse oneself within a city; let alone 6 days. Alas, when one of my closest friend’s Tracy, invited me along on her formally solo adventure to Barcelona and then Paris in May, I decided to follow suit and join her on what became an incredible adventure.

Now, most those who know me personally know that regardless of how much I like to say I am a spontaneous person I really am not. Life was really pelting me with a tonne of lemons at the time and I sure as hell didn’t feel like making lemonade!

#NoBeyoncé

But one thing was for sure, I needed to get away…

As per usual, even though I knew it would be “good” for me to get away and relax, this was of course the moment where just had to overthink things (!) The result? Usually me talking myself out of “it” whatever the “it” is thus taking me forever to do a lot of menial tasks. I have come to realise I am naturally very cautious of change, (something I need to work on) especially when it comes to departing from lump sums of money that could induce said change.

Apart from buying clothes, I don’t think twice about that funnily enough.

It literally took me a month to decide whether or not to go. Tracy even had to call me up at one point and say “April! I’m just going to book the tickets now because you’re taking too long!”

***

As she had planned the majority of the trip herself, our mode of transportation to Barcelona and Paris was pretty much already mapped out. We (I mean SHE) thought that it might be “super fun like a roadtrip” to travel by bus all the way from London, UK to Barcelona, Spain (another reason why I was apprehensive at first).

We originally booked a roundtrip ticket with Megabus for £60, reluctantly agreeing to the 24 hours expedition from London to Barcelona and then after 6 days there, we would  then take a flight to Paris and then a bus back home again. Now, before you start to think I am high maintenance, I really am not (lol) buuut the idea of sitting upright for 24 hours really didn’t appeal to me. This is coming from a girl who literally sleeps on all public and private transportation pretty much as soon as I step in. In the end the journey wasn’t too bad, even though my magical “sleeping powers” failed me this time. I was pretty much awake for the entire duration due to being so damn uncomfortable.

I know, I know… #firstworldproblems.

Oh did I forget to mention on the 2nd bus to Barcelona the toilet had overflowed and the lock on the door was broken. Needless to say, this was a reeeaaaal balancing act peeing.

Imagine trying with one hand to hold the door shut, whilst the other hand is holding onto a railing, squatting on one foot trying to avoid the waves on urine on the floor and trying to pee all the whilst the bus is still in transit?!

You get what you pay for I suppose!

***

The World was set to right once we arrived to the blinding sunshine and warm winds of Barcelona. Yes, I was smelly, eyes squinting, and walking around like I had just discovered civilization for the first time in decades, but as soon as I took in the beautiful sights around me the dreadful journey made arriving here so much sweeter.

We arrived a little too early for check in at around 11am however the lovely personnel at 360 Arts and Culture Hostel not only allowed us to check in but also booked us into an 8-person room at no extra cost when we had initially booked a 12-person room as it was cheaper – luck was definitely on our side. There wasn’t much Art or Culture at the hostel however, unless you count free Sangria and Paella every couple of nights and continual drinking games but I definitely wasn’t complaining! Although initially I really didn’t want to stay in a hostel because of all the horror stories I had heard, but sharing a bathroom with the whole hostel and a bedroom with 6 other people wasn’t as bad as I had previously imagined. Everyone was pretty considerate of everyone’s personal space and privacy.

Discreet Muse April Alexander Barcelona Arc De Triumph Blogger Vlogger Black Model Afro

After freshening up and feeling a little less like Britney Circa 2007, we hit the streets of Barcelona with a trusty city map in hand (instead of an umbrella) and no idea of where to actually go. We decided that Barceloneta Beach was probably the first place we should visit you know, just to relax after our long journey, top up our melanin and grab an ice cream while we were at it.

To get to Barceloneta Beach you can quite easily jump on the Metro (Yellow line, L4) to cut walking time, getting off at “Barceloneta” and following your nose and the salty smell of the ocean to the sandy shores. However, being the troopers we are, we decided to walk 20 minutes from the city centre to reach our destination. Which, in my opinion isn’t all that bad when the sun is shining.

Well and truly, this particular afternoon was not a beach friendly day at all. The wind was ruthless, creating painful miniature sandstorms every couple of minutes. I mean, have you ever been slapped in the face with rouge sand before?

It’s really not for the faint hearted.

Aside from fleeing rampantly from clouds of dust and the rouge sand, Barceloneta Beach was truly a gem. Nevertheless, even on a windy day such as this, the beach was still jam packed with scantily and conservatively clad individuals of varying ages, clustered around beach hut’s serving up many a cocktail (my favourite being “Agua de Valencia”) and scrumptious beachy finger foods.

If laying around topping up your tan whilst reading your perfect chick-lit book isn’t for you, then there are so many other things to do besides that and taking a dip in the ocean.

Windsurfing, Kitesurfing and Sailing are only but 3 popular water based activities you can exploit while at the beach. Not to mention if perhaps you happened to have mindlessly skipped the gym for whatever reason, or maybe you just want to show off in front of the honey’s laying nearby; then there is also a pretty decent and more enticingly free outdoor gym to take advantage of.

By our second day, Tracy and I had already forged new alliances with a bevy of fellow Hostel residents, decided join forces and eventually embarked on a little bit of sightseeing together. Luckily for us, our international friends had done much more research on Barcelona and its history than we had, so naturally they became our unpaid tour guides for the next few days.

I was soon educated on famed Spanish Architect Antoni Gaudí, his recurrent commissions for several projects by the city council and how, in essence he transformed Barcelona into his own public canvas. In my very humble opinion, many elements of his constructions were reminiscent of very elaborate Ginger Bread Houses (don’t laugh, it truly reminded me of them!).

Ginger Bread House comparisons aside, I was completely blown away by Gaudí’s neo-gothic and oriental inspired work. Gaudí’s intricate yet bold detailing within the walls of many of the structures I passed by whilst trailing through the city really enabled me to truly appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of a modernista Architect.

Most noticeably, Gaudí’s projects and buildings entitled Parc Güell, Casa Batlló, and of course his “pièce de résistance”, the incredible La Sagrada Familia were just a few which managed to leave an impenetrable mark on me. Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia is currently 134+ years in the making and is yet to be completed; the anticipated completion date being 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If Gaudí’s works aren’t your artistic cup of tea and you prefer to ponder inquisitively at provocative paintings instead of provocative architecture, then The Picasso Museum will be a perfect detour for you. The Picasso Museum features some of Pablo Picasso’s earliest works from around 1897 – 1904 and is open 7 days a week with free admission on Sundays (which is the case for most museums in Barcelona on a Sunday). However be mindful that as it is free entry, the queues will be mental so make sure you arrive early. They also have a cap on the amount of people they allow in so just because its free, doesn’t mean you’ll be granted access, which is what unfortunately happened to us one fateful Sunday afternoon. Even if you don’t manage to make Sunday your go-to day, weekday tickets are still reasonable at a mere €11. A definite must see for all you art buffs out there.

And finally my favorite category; Food !

As with most cultures, cuisine plays a very important role within the community; factoring largely in tourism. The best way to sample authentic Catalan cuisine in Barcelona is to take a stroll through many of the local markets the city has to offer.  La Boqueria, also referred to as The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is Europe’s largest outside food market and is located in the center of La Rambla, a stone’s throw from the unmissable Gothic Quarter in the old city.

La Boqueria is a hub of all things delicious, fresh and not to mention visually appealing – so make sure you get your cameras at the ready. In a world where history and original touches are slowly but surely being erased by more contemporary features and technologies, La Boqueria succeeds in maintaining the spirit of the Catalan culture. You can reach the incredible La Boqueria by the Metro, taking the L3 and exiting at Liceu.

As our final day in Barcelona was looming we began preparing our next venture to Paris, France… or were we… ?

And I say this because as soon as we started packing we began being inundated with updates about Paris from fellow “Hostelian’s” informing us that the City was flooding due to extreme rain.

Great (!)

Most tourist spots were temporarily closed due to fears of damage and to be honest, after spending 6 glorious days in the Barcelona sunshine the last thing we wanted to do was spend a weekend in yet another hostel, with miserable rain pelting down outside and with  absolutely nothing to do.

So we thought on our feet.

IBIZA!!!

It was the perfect possible destination.

We had never been to Ibiza before (though we had always said “Next year we’ll go” for the past 4 years), it was only 9 hours away by ferry and only €60 to get there! Once we agreed on Ibiza, we booked a room at Hostel Giramundo Ibiza, all of our party excursions which all happened to still have tickets and left Barcelona for Ibiza all within 3 hours of deciding to head to the party capital. Stressed was not even the word but the spontaneity was definitely thrilling. What more could we ask for?! It seemed like luck was definitely on our side! I mean, what could possibly go wrong… 

All I’m going to say is… #WhatHappensInIbizaStaysInIbiza