As soon as we got off the plane, we could feel the warmth of Spain. Neither of us are sunseekers, but we found the temperature perfect at about 24 degrees. After a slight detour to drop our friend off at his hotel, which turned out not be in central Barcelona at all, we arrived at our hotel Hotel Barcelona Universal.
On our first day, we met up with some friends who had also travelled for the Champions League Semi-Final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United. We enjoyed beer and wine on various outdoor patios before making our way to the Camp Nou stadium for the match. It was my first trip to Camp Nou, which seats 98,000 and is the largest stadium in Europe. Seated in the 5th and uppermost tier with the United fans we had a birds-eye view of the match but the sunset was amazing. United played defensively and went home with a 0-0 draw. A goal would have been nice, but overall a good result for the away leg.
The second day began late after a much needed lie-in. We walked along the waterfront to Port Vell and then wove our way through the Barrio Gotic to the Taller de Tapas for a late lunch. Admittedly we weren’t at peak dining time at 5:00 in the afternoon but we got dismal service and the food was only average. After lunch we wandered up Las Ramblas to the Avenida Diagonal before taking the metro back to our hotel for a nap.
The third day we got up earlier (around noon ) and went to the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, two of the famous Gaudi landmarks. They were both packed with tourists but in the park we found a shady bench and some relatively empty paths. The picture to the right was taken from the mosaic covered serpentine bench along the main terrace.
On the last day we returned to Rossini in Placa Reial (where we had eaten lunch on the first day) for lunch and then watched the Chelsea – Manchester United game in an Irish pub. After lunch we took a funicular up the hill to the Montjuic Park where the 1992 Olympics were held. The view over the city was amazing especially from the abandoned diving venue. Although some of the venues are still used, it was a shame to see dozens of birds swimming in the diving pool. After exploring the park a bit more we took an ancient cable car to the waterfront and had a quick walk on the beach before taking a taxi back to the hotel exhausted after another day of hiking around.
All in all it was a great weekend. Lots of rest, sunshine, good food and wine.