Sun, sea, Sangria, plus history, art and culture in abundance? Not to mention the food…Who wouldn’t want to visit Barcelona?!
My first visit to the city was a flying one, so when it came to visiting for the second time, I had an itinerary and a to-do list of places that I wanted to see, visit and explore. The Gaudi-designed Park Guell sat firmly at the top. The trip fell over my birthday, so naturally I thought that would be the best day to visit Park Guell. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend their birthday in glorious sunshine exploring one of the world’s most beautiful parks?!
La Sagrada Familia
Our first port of call was a hop on the Metro to get to La Sagrada Familia, the beautiful and staggeringly large catholic church, where we found ourselves surrounded by likeminded tourists with their selfie sticks.
It seemed apt for us to visit La Sagrada Familia along the way, since Gaudi was also the mastermind behind this breathtaking Church. I’d read up on La Sagrada Familia before our trip so was excited to see it in all it’s glory. It was fascinating to see the difference in the stone from when its construction first began, to the stone they are using now.
When we were touring the grounds, we found out that La Sagrada Familia is actually home to the tomb of Antoni Gaudi. Visitors are free to go underground to see the tomb, however we declined as we had a busy day ahead and the queues were pretty long. One other thing to note; it is probably better to arrive as early in the day as you can, as it is very crowded during peak times.
The Journey to the Park – 75 Steps and Counting
As the weather was beautiful, I convinced my boyfriend Dan that we should walk from La Sagrada Familia up to the park, instead of wasting time on the hot and stuffy Metro. After bribing him with the promise of an ice-cold beer en route, we made our way north of Barcelona and up the steep hill to the park. True to my word, we stopped halfway for a local beer and watched the world go by, taking a few photos of the Vespas as they passed, and aptly some street art which read ‘Happy Birthday’.
Around 30 minutes and roughly 75 sweat-inducing stairs later, we had arrived! And I was blown away. Quite literally actually, as it was really quite windy up there! But all the better for us as the heat meant we welcomed the breeze. Sidenote: it's definitely advisable to do the climb on a breezy or overcast day if possible, far more comfortable than sweating it out in the sun!)
The main entry gate of Park Guell is mesmorising. Beautifully-intricate, colourful ceramic tiles are a theme throughout the park, especially the Dragon Stairway and Sala Hipóstila, which was originally built to be a marketplace, but is now filled with excited tourists and locals experiencing the park.
The Gaudi House museum sat at the top of the park, although still beautiful, is more modest than the rest of the park, not in size – but more in style and design. Interesting fact; Gaudi actually lived in this house for around 20 years before moving to a place in La Sagrada Familia.
The atmosphere in the park was incredibly relaxed and almost Zen-like. Amongst the wisteria and the palm trees, there were numerous happy families, tourists and children, picnicking, laughing, and enjoying the views. Picturesque white stone steps, columns and passageways leading to small caves made for excellent picture opportunities alongside the panoramic views of the city below.
Whilst vising Park Guell, be sure to make the most of the free entertainment. We saw two buskers whilst walking to the peak of Park Guell, one there purely for entertainment, dressed in a leopard print cat suit and cowboy boots - essentially a one-man band with his guitar, tambourine and mouth organ. He was successfully serenading a group of young Portuguese ladies, dedicating his lyrics to them and winking and growling at them. Fair play to them for returning his flirty and comical advances, much to the amusement of the onlookers.
The second busker was a talented musician, perched on a wooden box in the shade under the trees. Quietly singing and playing his guitar, he had an amazing, husky singing voice. We gave him 5 euros and lingered around to watch him for a few minutes before heading deeper into the park.
Always Get the Bus
One thing to note; when leaving the park make sure you stand at the right bus stop if you are heading back down the hill into central Barcelona. We were all smug because as soon as we got outside of the park, a bus was just turning up and drove straight past us. So we decided to run for it, maybe 100 yards down the hill and somehow (not due to our Olympic standard running but more like the lengthy queue of park goers!) we did make it onto the bus.
I adored our trip to Park Guell - it certainly didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere was much more calm and serene than I had expected it to be, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of central Barcelona and just enjoy the views and blissful atmosphere, as well as taking in the unique architecture.
Top tip: remember to take some Euros along if you are lucky enough to see the buskers whilst you are there.
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