Barcelona

41° 22.547’N 2° 10.871'E Barcelona, Spain

We settled in easily into Reial Club Marítim Barcelona ( RCMB ) at the bottom of La Rambla. We found out few days after we berthed that it was more of a locals marina but they hadn't complained about having us and we decided to stay put for a while. They have a pool, a rowing club, a gym, a cheap bar, movie nights and night security. We feel safely tucked away in the heart of it all. 

Our top tip for Barcelona is to LOOK UP !

Barcelona is an old city overflowing with culture, food and architecture so sit back, relax and explore our taster …

Architecture

Gaudi undoubtably changed the landscape, his style is distinctive and playful and you can view his work simply walking around the city. It is definitely worth the crowds to visit Sagrada Família ( I loathe a queue, always buy tickets online and we recommend the audio guide ) and strolling Park Güell is entirely pleasant. MUHBA Plaça del Rei will walk you through an uncovered Roman city. The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe captivated Captain and we let time pass us by, quietly taking in the space.

Stroll, stroll, stroll. Tree lined La Rambla, the gothic quarter filled with well worn stone lanes and boutique stores, historic squares, street art, markets, markets everywhere…

Park de Citudella

We appreciate this is just as much a gathering place for locals as it is for tourists.

La Barceloneta Beach

Port

The port connects downtown with Barcelonata Beach. There are local marinas, like the one we stayed in, and then there is the shiny One Ocean Port Vell, which houses the superyachts. They are all moored against the public promenade so you can stroll along and see how the ‘other half’ ( 1% of the population) live.

Port Cable Car & Montjuïc Park

Where the beach meets the port ( conveniently by the W Hotel if you fancy a tipple in the bar) you can catch a cable car and fly high with the most spectacular views over the city and sea.

You can also catch a ride up to Montjuïc Park, we went up for Brunch in the Park, a live music festival which happens most weekends throughout summer. Danced til’ our feet ached, just the two of us …

Montserrat

This Benedictine monk mountain retreat is about one hour from Barcelona by train or car and makes for a whole day trip. Not only is Montserrat Monastery of significant religious importance but the natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breathtaking.

If you enjoy walking there are also some interesting walks through the mountains with magnificent views of some of the most unusual rock formations in the whole of Catalonia. You can take a funicular to the top of the mountain and from there you can choose a number of different walks, all with amazing views of the Catalonian countryside.

Tapas and drinks

Tapas makes the spanish world go round. A few favourites… La Flauta has great tapas and strangely addictive grilled vegetables. La Pepita has graffiti, great atmosphere and great food. Somorrostro has a seasonal menu by the beach and came recommended to us. You won’t get caught short, you can get tapas and a jug of sangria on every corner. To ease the feet try a tipple at Kaelderkold which is a craft beer and cocktail bar in the Gothic quarter and @roamingcreative suggested Paradiso and Dr Stravinsky.

Los Caracoles

Welcoming gangsters and molls since 1835, Los Caracoles history is as rich as the traditional Spanish cuisine. Find the tiny bar in the old Gothic Quarter, squeeze past the chefs working their hot plate magic, then take a seat amongst the red wine, banjos and smell of garlic butter.

Flax and Kale

Modern, nutrient dense, sustainable and yummy. Flax and Kale is Theresa Carles answer to flexitarian fine dining. 80% of the menu is plant-based. Meat does not make’th the meal, they feel passionate about feeding you better and I feel passionate about eating here.

Theresa Carles is on our wavelength, her deli’s also produce satiating cold pressed juices.

Aire de Barcelona

These ancient baths are a relaxing way to finish a good days exploring.

Pickpocketing

Barcelona has a bad reputation for pickpocketing and bag snatching. It has come a long way from it’s worst days, largely thanks to 1992 Summer Olympics forcing them to clean up the city and despite all our time here we have never been a victim of pickpockets.

However, we have two close friends who on separate occasions have been targeted. For one, my cousin Emma was with a pack of girlfriends and three men literally picked their handbags off their shoulders as they walked past. There was no safety in numbers. Secondly, Chris left a pub after a couple of drinks and was ‘befriended’ by another lone male ‘walking the same way’, he accompanied him for a couple of blocks before leaving him wallet-less and with a black eye.

  • Avoid the metro. We walk or bike everywhere but decided to ride metro once or twice, never during rush hour or at night. Equally train stations and bus stations are a hot spot.

  • Best option, do not carry a bag. Explore light and wear a secure body pouch or just put your bare essentials in your inner breast zipped pocket.

  • If you must wear a backpack, secure the chest clip or wear it on your front where you can see it. Bags that have secret inner pockets against your skin are ideal.

  • Never carry a handbag on one shoulder or in one hand. If you do always sling across body.

  • Don’t get so drunk you make yourself a target.

  • If your being asked a question/ directions / sold something on the street or being distracted by a magic trick or game there is a chance you are being targeted. It’s and old trick and it works, one or two people distract you and their accomplice will swipe your belongings and you wont have even noticed. Keep your wits about you.

A thief boards our boat at night…

We had one incident during the small hours of the morning where we were awoken by someone boarding our boat. He took one step aboard the bow and as we sleep in the bow cabin we both sat bolt upright. With adrenalin coursing through our sleepy veins I flung myself off our bed and as there is no foot room at the end of my bit ( we had to extend the bed to accommodate for Captain’s height so I have to clamber over his feet ) I tripped and went knee first onto the floor. See resulting bruise below. Anyway, I was still first up the galley hatch ( Captain naked and not so keen ) and clambered out making a tonne of noise. Our intruder instantly threw his hands in the air and retreated apologising. He didn’t want violence any more than I did, he was just desperate and looking for opportunity. I don’t think he expected us to be onboard. I followed him off the boat as we both marched towards the exit and he retreated by climbing over the wall.

I spent the next hour trying to explain in english to a Spanish security guard what had happened and his entry and exit point, I even re-enacted how it was executed. It was a long day the next day after a dawn wake up call and with a limp but at least everyone was safe and we hadn’t been robbed. I really feel for people who are so desperate they have to risk their own safety to get by.

On a much lighter note to end…

RCMB marina is also the home of the Barcelona Rowing Club. I’ve rowed since I was 14 and after a week watching them coming and going I couldn’t resist asking around for members to allow me to row with them. I am really grateful to them for including me whilst I’m here so, Thank you x

And just because I think it’s beautiful ….