It’s been a dream of mine to go to Spain ever since I had my first tapa. My desire to travel there was rekindled after I watched Anthony Bourdain’s trip as he indulged in the fresh and canned seafood near the port. Of course, I also wanted to go to experience the culture and learn more about its history, but come on. It was really about the food.
I was torn between traveling to other areas in Spain or simply staying in Barcelona for the week I was there. Ultimately, I decided to just stay put in Barcelona. One week really isn’t that long and there was plenty that I wanted to do. Normally, I travel with one other person, but unfortunately my travel buddy was not available for this one, so I was on my own.
This isn’t the first time that I have traveled alone, but it certainly has been awhile. While having a travel companion is definitely a lot of fun purely for the, well, companionship, there’s something to be said about traveling alone. I’m not beholden to some one else’s time table and I can pretty much do whatever I want. That being said, I’m not great at creating itineraries, but I forced myself to make one mainly so that I would have directions to all the places I wanted to visit and for my fiancee’s benefit as well. Even with the directions I walked around in circles a handful of times and got a bit lost, but I luckily had my trusty compass ready. If you’re traveling alone, don’t leave home without a compass.
One of the main things you’ll read about Barcelona is how prolific pickpockets are. Upon reading this, I purchased myself a neck pouch from Amazon, but honestly I probably didn’t even need it. Pickpocketing is not really unusual in any large city that you go to, the trick is to make sure that you have secured your belongings somewhere safe and that you keep an eye out for suspicious acting people. It might get a bit trickier in more packed areas like Las Rambla and the famous Boqueria Market, but again. It’s all about being a savvy traveller.
As a tourist, I definitely made sure to hit all the tourist spots:
- Gothic Quarter
- Las Rambla
- Flamenco at Tablao de Carmen
- Poble Espanyol
- Mont Tibidabo
- Montjuic Castle and the Olympic Stadium
- Roserar de Cervantes
Word to the wise: remember that in Spain the people observe siesta so there will be a point some time when a lot of the shops will be closed, generally around 3pm. Also note that a lot of restaurants will not be open for dinner on Sundays or Mondays. I learned this the hard way. The next time I make an itinerary, I’ll be sure to check the hours of operation. I was a bit sad though with the quality of food I experienced. Traveling alone I couldn’t really enjoy the tapas as much as with another person. The dishes are rather large for one person so I was really only able to sample 1-2 different tapas dishes. The other restaurants I went to were a bit bland for the price that I was paying. One restaurant even had the gall to have a completely different, and overpriced might I add, english menu. There was maybe only one place that made me happy, Maitea Taberna which had Pintxos, but more on that in my Foodie Alert section.
Despite the so-so food, Barcelona provided a lot of opportunities to see a lot of great architecture, learn some interesting history and folklore and, most of all, experience a new city. I stayed at NH Numancia which, while not right near the Gothic Quarter or Las Rambla is just a quick train ride away. The rooms themselves are barebones, but perfect for what I needed. Unfortunately they are in serious need of soundproof walls because I could hear EVERYTHING going on in the halls, next door and even a couple doors down. For people like me who do not drive, Barcelona is a perfect city because you can pretty much go anywhere you want by walking or taking the train. I’m pretty sure I lost a couple pounds on my vacation just from all the walking and hiking I did. It was a little tiring at times, but I definitely wouldn’t change anything about the trip.