This was our first glimpse of the glorious city;
We were scheduled to stay in the seaside town of Santa Susanna but decided to stay in a Hostel (Lullaby) smack bang in the middle of the city on the first night as we were so captivated by the place. There was so much thought and detail behind everything, from shop window displays to hotel lobbies, we were absolutely mesmerised. Like everything seemed to be in Barca, the Hostel was effortlessly stylish and really well run. Shame there were many a brawl on the street outside of our room that kept us from retreating to the much needed land of nodd, resulting in the worst nights (lack of) sleep during the whole trip.
The next hazy sleep deprived day was spent mooching around the city, being totally awe-struck by Gaudis architecture ;
(oh my gaud it is incredible)
picnicking outside the Cathedral and discovering some true gems like this beautiful vegan restaurant;
We hadn't actually checked how much the train to Santa Susanna was and had visions of forking of 40 euros plus, with a £100 budget for the 5 days we were worried to say the least. To our absolute relief it only cost 4.30 euros, for a 90 minute train ride! We arrived in Santa Susanna at about 9pm, we worried we would be to late (a day and a half) to check in. But that was the least of our worries.
Once we'd walked down the beach for about 20 minutes to find our Hotel we also found that is was boarded up with a sign reading 'HOTEL CLOSED', on closer inspection it had a list of all guests that were meant to stay there and contact details for another hotel they could stay in. Our names were not on the list.
As, you can tell, we were overjoyed with this news. We decided we'd chase up the Hotel the others guests had been allocated to, somehow made it in time for the last train to Callela where we were directed to Hotel Amaika.
The lights were off. We were faced with another sign, diverting us to 'Callela Palace' A 10 minute walk away, my friend who studies Tourism installed further fears as he was dubious of any Hotel that bore the name 'Palace'.
We planned our whole speech, demanding rooms even though we weren't on the list, demanding the train fare back towards the city, proving our rights with various documentation however when we arrived at the warmly inviting plush Palace the receptionist simply said 'Ohh we've been expecting you'. Talk about anti-climax. We would've been happy with any old room, all we craved was some silent slumber but the Hotel was even better than the one we had originally booked with. It had an indoors pool, sauna , jacuzzi and every room had a balcony that backed out onto the most glorious view of the hills.
The next day was spent exploring the beach and hills, we found a beautiful ruin and watched the sunset . We could see all the way to Barcelona centre. It was magical.
Once we made it back to ground level we supplemented the local Tapas and drained the local Sangria supply.
We were warned by everyone of the pick pockets but, probably due to the fact we went in December, we didn't come into direct contact with any, as far as we know anyway (cue the moment we look at our bank statements and realise we had our bank cards stolen).
The last two days were spent getting lost in the city, stumbling upon the most beautiful restaurants and spending far too much money on good food whilst visiting Gaudis 'house of bones'.
One moment that I will never ever forget occurred on the last day. We were sitting on a park bench in the centre, having lengthy conversations, mainly about tiny details of the beautiful landscape we were surrounded by. Despite the deep converse, my attention kept wandering to an old beggar man who sat on a bench on the other side of the park, all he seemed to own was a can of lager but seemed oddly content.
Throughout the two-and-a-half hour conversation that took place on the bench I would glance over at the man, who for the whole time was fiddling with his can, and what appeared to be a knife, not wanting to provoke him in anyway or seem rude, I would quickly turn away from him but was still totally captivated.
Then he stood up and began walking over to us, slightly aggressively but with an optimistic bounce in his step. He then handed me the most beautifully crafted candle holder whilst saying 'Bones Festes Bonita' which means 'Happy Holiday Beautiful' in Spanish. Before I could properly say thank you (despite shouting 'Gracias, es Bonito' pretty loudly after him) he had bounced away, waving backwards, towards us with a beaming smile.
The single thought that he had nothing materialistically yet bore such creative skills and gave away all that he had ,makes me feel warm and fuzzy. In that one moment, it felt like Christmas.
I was petrified we wouldn't be allowed to bring it back into the country as we only had hand luggage and it was pretty damn sharp, luckily, by a few (probably illegal) means it's now sitting on my window ledge, a permanent reminder of the good in Humanity and my beautiful Barcelonian break!