The thing about Europe that continually blows my mind is just how close everything is. Barely a week after arriving home from my Christmas adventures I had someone stay for a few nights, and what did we decide to do? Why, pop down to Barcelona for the weekend of course!
Yup, 3 ½ hours by car will get you from Toulouse to the Catalan city of Barcelona.
It was all pretty spur of the moment (that’s a saying, right?), and it was the least prepared I’ve been for a trip thus far. I don’t speak any Spanish, let alone Catalan, my phone had been stolen the weekend before so I had no google maps telling me how to get around, and I hadn’t even looked up how to get from the bus station to our hostel. Adventure time!
We caught the early morning bus from Toulouse and arrived in Barcelona just before lunch. It was hot and sunny and everything winter in England hadn’t been. We found the hostel and were immediately greeted by a bunch of Aussies, the young loud kind that seem to fill every hostel bed in Europe. We would be seeing a lot more of them over the next couple of days.
We decided not to make any plans for that day so instead went for a long walk in the afternoon sun, checking out the eclectic stores and equally eclectic people. The metro was super easy to navigate and the beach was a welcome sight after living for so long away from the coast. Barcelona had such a chilled-out atmosphere that we immediately felt all the stress of unprepared travel lift from our shoulders.
That night was the first time in my whole hosteling experience that I joined in with the hostel activities. We all met in the foyer at 11pm, ready for a night on the town… just the kind of thing I love! (insert sarcasm font here). The first place we went to was just around the block from the hostel and was a shots bar, where every shot was €2. We were confronted with a rather overwhelming choice as the entire back wall was covered in names of shots, anything ranging from “willy wonka” to “banana of love”. Being from NZ we decided to guiltily participate in a little cultural appropriation and ordered a “Maori”… I have no idea what was in it.
The night continued on as you’d expect, the Aussies and Americans progressively getting louder and more annoying as the night wore on. The drinks got more and more expensive as well so we decided to bail, opting for a six pack of beers on the hostel roof. By the end it was a pretty good night.
The next day was my favourite day, site seeing! La Sagrada Familia was super impressive, the terrifying sculptures of Jesus and Roman Guards and other biblical figures were awesomely dark and the overall architecture was really imposing and unique. Being on a tight budget and being short on time we opted not to go in, but even with all the construction going on it was a very impressive sight.
We also headed to the other Barcelonian “must see”, the Park Guell. Once again we decided not to pay, and after strolling around the periphery we set out for one of the hills towering above the park. Sliding my way up in chucks that didn’t afford the best grip, we reached the summit and joined the group of Canadian skaters and French youths who had also assembled on the peak. It was still, calm, with a fresh breeze and a view across the entire city. We stayed here for quite some time.
Nachos, icecream, and tapas beside the university signalled the end of our day. We finished off with more beers on the roof before bed. We would be catching a blabla car early the following morning so no crazy parties that night. Although loud Australians retelling their night’s antics and an American beating on his chest in the hall weren’t the most conducive to a good night sleep. Still, what can you expect from a hostel in the heart of Barcelona??