Soccer is possibly the only thing that comes to the minds of most people when they hear of Barcelona. FC Barcelona has certainly transformed this enchanting Mediterranean city to be synonymous with the sport owing to its numerous successes glocally. As for me (clearly not an FC Barcelona fan), Barcelona is best known for its architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, arguably the best practitioner of Catalan modernism.
This summer, hubby was sponsored to attend a Thrombosis Management Workshop that was held at Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, Barcelona. Including this time, we’ve explored Europe four times in less than a year and in almost four different seasons. What a feat! I could never have imagined ever achieving this a year ago. As it was around the summer solstice when we arrived, the temperature was ranging between 18-26°C with low humidity. Nevertheless, what worked to our advantage were the longest hours of daylight that enabled us to explore more places in a day. Needless to say, travelling without the encumbrance of thick winter clothing, our luggage was so much lighter and easier to lug around.
Not surprising, the business class ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Barcelona on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines came up to a whopping RM16060 per person inclusive of taxes. Thankfully, it was all paid for by hubby’s sponsor. There was a two-hour layover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which ignited a sense of déjà vu having just been there in March this year. Above all, we were privileged to experience the ritzy KLM Crown Lounge – the part that I always enjoyed most during a transit.
This trip was rather short-lived, in that we only got to enjoy three days and two nights in Barcelona. In spite of that, we were pampered with a stay at the extremely luxurious Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I that was just adjacent to the venue of hubby’s workshop – Palau de Congressos de Catalunya. A quick check at its website revealed that a night’s stay came to an astounding €209 (RM1059.50) inclusive of taxes.
Upon arrival at Barcelona–El Prat Airport, we were transferred to Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I (located 10.5km away) in a minibus. The journey that took slightly less than 15 minutes saved us the money on taxi, which would otherwise cost at least €40 (RM203).
Within the city, we resorted to our usual and most convenient way to move about – Metro de Barcelona. The station nearest to our hotel was Zona Universitària(Line 3), located just 500m away (6-minute walk). It’s advisable to purchase the T-10 ticket especially when most attractions you’re going to explore are scattered throughout Zone 1 of the city. This ticket that is valid indefinitely within a calendar year, entitles you to a total of 10 journeys on the metro, train, tram and bus. The good news is that it comes at an affordable price of €9.95 (RM50.56).
If you’re planning to explore Montjuïc Hill, you might want to consider trying the Aeri del Port (Port Vell Aerial Tramway) or Telefèric de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Cable Car), which has a return ticket price tag of €16.50 (RM84.30) and €12.50 (RM63.90) respectively. Rest assured, you’d be guaranteed an unforgettable experience and a panoramic view of the city. Definitely worth every penny!
Sightseeing In Barcelona
We arrived in Barcelona two days before the summer solstice that coincided with the Nativity of John The Baptist (June 24) – the shortest night of the year. In fact, the rising temperature wasn’t really something to complain about considering we were granted more time to explore the city. A day before the summer solstice was celebrated as Nit de Sant Joan (Saint John’s Night or Festival of Saint John), which wasn’t to be missed as bonfires and fireworks were being lit throughout the night.
On our first day, we did a sightseeing marathon from 12pm till 10pm without much time given to rest. The reason for this madness was because hubby would be fully occupied with his workshop for the next one and a half days, which was all the time we had in this city. Quite a rush, huh? But, let me show you how much we’ve accomplished in a such a short duration of adventure.
What else can you expect from a Mediterranean city if it’s not its seafood? Having said that, I haven’t had opportunities to explore other Mediterranean cities, but what I can assure you is that the seafood in Barcelona was arguably one of the freshest I’ve ever tasted. Of course, you must also never forget the paella (Valencian rice dish), which many would regard as Spain’s national dish.
There are numerous seafood restaurants throughout the city that you can check out. During the summer, it’s commonplace for people to dine al fresco and that was exactly what we did. On the day of arrival, we had lunch and dinner at The Terrace that was located by the hotel’s pool and garden. The food was so mouth-watering that even the sweltering summer heat didn’t hinder us from enjoying every bit of our meal.
The highlight of our food adventure was the dinner on the second day, which was part of hubby’s workshop agenda. It was held at the Plaça d’Europa (Europe Square) within the extremely vast Anella Olímpica de Montjuic (Montjuic Olympic Park)and the entrance of which was through the 136-metre Torre de Comunicacions de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Communications Tower) – resembling an athlete lifting the Olympic torch.
Besides its huge assortment of food and drinks, the most fascinating thing about the dinner was the sprawling arrangement of tables and seats in the open air. It was so conducive that everyone was just mingling around and having a great time. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us!
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