Travel Partner: @TheLovely_Tiff
Departed: Sunday 29th July 2018 @ 7.15pm
Airport: Heathrow (my favourite airport) terminal 3
Airline: British Airways with access to the first class lounge
Hotel: Catalonia Barcelona Plaza booked through booking.com
On the last Sunday in July my cousin Tiffany and I set off to Barcelona for 5 days. This would be the first time for both of us and as you could imagine the excitement was real. We had some trouble getting to the airport beforehand because unknown to us, there was a marathon going on in central London that messed up the normal airport route.
God was definitely on our side because we managed to get to bag drop on time. Since we had some extra time on our hands to burn it was only right that we grabbed a quick bite to eat relaxed in British Airways first class lounge. Our flight was delayed by half an hour so we made good use of the bar, nibbled on top-notch snacks and indulged in all kinds of Boujee antics whilst we waited to depart.
First Night – Welcome to Barcelona
We arrived in Barcelona in no time, it literally felt like a long train ride to be honest. I must say I was not a huge fan of Barcelona’s Airport – El Prat or their staff. I found them to be very nonchalant as they did very little to help us with our baggage claim queries. Can you believe we waited up to half an hour for our luggage to come around the belt?. It was so stressful having to wait so long and things only got worse as we navigated our way through the airport.
To cut a very long story short, Tiffany and I were stranded. We were unaware that a taxi strike had put Barcelona on a standstill. No Uber, no licensed taxis, no train service, no nothing. There is nothing worse than being black, a woman and stranded in an airport of a country that you know nothing about. The frustration was real and to make it even worse, the Spanish people that we approached for help were far from helpful in fact, we found them to be extremely rude.
But I soon came to realise that not all Spanish people were the same. An unlicensed street taxi driver who had approached us for a ride when we first entered the car park came to our rescue. Left with no other options, Tiff and I decided to take a dangerous leap of faith and hitch a ride. But not before I took some photos of the vehicle and sent it to my brother via whats app.
I figured if something were to go wrong at least they had some pictures as a starting point for any upcoming criminal investigation. In this taxi sat me, Tiff, our luggage, the driver and his Dad. We cruised across the highway into the darkness of the night, Tiff was scared and so was I. God was certainly working overtime because those drivers were genuine and we made it to our hotel safe and sound.
But not before getting tailed by the Spanish authorities and having to come up with some bogus story about knowing our drivers through a foreign exchange programme. I have never held on to a stranger so tight in my life. Together we all walked hand in hand into my hotel lobby under a close eye from the police, fake smiles and all. We definitely took a huge risk, so please, I urge you to learn from our mistake. ALWAYS read the local news of a country before you plan to visit. Utilise google alerts or do a quick read up online to give you an idea of what is currently happening.
In our case, we were extremely blessed by the kindness of this driver and his Dad. I can’t even begin to imagine what could have happened if the driver was not genuine. Barcelona may have started off bumpy but things quickly turned around once we checked in to our hotel. Our room was lush with a bomb ass view as the night was practically over we washed up and called it night, ready to start fresh in the morning.
DAY 2 – Let’s try this again shall we!
We set out early for breakfast and by 11am the sun peaked to a whopping 32 degrees. Luckily for us we managed to found a chic bakery nearby our hotel that served fresh pastries and ice cold lemon slushies. Once breakfast was over we set off on the train into Catalunya. A central part of the city filled with shops, restaurants and street entertainment. It is the London equivalent to oxford Circus and it is a hub for tourist and locals.
I am a big fan of using public transport whenever I travel. Barcelona’s train and bus systems were super easy to use and they were both relatively cheap. It made sense for Tiff and I to buy a 48 hour travel pass. It cost us around 15 euros and we planned to make good use of it. TRAVEL TIP – Make good use of public transport when you go abroad. It is cost effective, gives you the chance to mingle with the locals and get a real feel of the country.
Do I look like a local or nah?
In Catalonia the sun was out and so were the people. To our surprise the taxi strikes that made us stranded at the airport seemed to have it ways into the heart of the city. Everywhere we turned there were parked taxis and their drivers. It was amazing to see them scattered throughout the streets with their protest signs in solidarity with one another. It was a jam-packed affair and I had never seen anything like it. I have always wanted to join in on a protest, but I do not think this was a good place to start.
Things appeared to be peaceful for the most part until a loud bang similar to the sounds of gunshots echoed through the air. As we did not see people running for their lives, we gathered that we must have caught the wrong end of the stick. This was a clear sign that it was time for us to move on to our next location.
There was no strict schedule in place for this trip, we simply wanted to go with the flow. Together we spontaneously decided to go and visit the Sagrada Familia. We ran into some difficulty trying to work out the best route and reached out to some locals for directions. As we were speaking to one lady, Tiff noticed a guy attempting to take pictures of us. It was very odd, but we did not blow up about it instead we simply asked what in the TMZ paparazzi is going on here?
Apparently, the guy was visiting from Brazil and he was fascinated by our African material that he wanted to take some snaps. Say what now? I mean after hearing that we just could not say now. In true Jenna and Tiffany style, we posed for pictures to which he was extremely pleased lol. It was the most bizarre thing to ever. I have heard a ton of stories where people from other nationalities hound black people for pictures, so this one really struck me by surprise.
The Sagrada Familia was only a few stops on the train from Catalunya station. The Sagrada is an unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by the Catalonian born architect Antonio Gaudi in 1882. The church is a highly sought after tourist attraction in the city, I only found this out once we arrived and could not gain entry lol. Entry tickets must be booked up to two months in advance.
TRAVEL TIP: do research for any that you wish to visit. The same exact thing happened to us in Rome when we tried to visit the Colosseum. It is clear that we have not learned from our past mistakes. Tiff and I had to just settle for an outside view. But to be honest the Sagrada Familia did not blow me away in real time. It was not until the end of my trip when I realised how much of a big deal it is to tourists visiting Barcelona.
Since there was not much to see in the area apart from the Sagrada, we grabbed some lunch in KFC. I have never immediately regretted buying food as I did with this KFC. Tiff and I were keen on tasting authentic Spanish food, so we vowed to not have KFC for the rest of the trip and then headed back to Catalunya station.
Check out some cool pics we took on our way back from Sagrada Familia.
After an eventful day in the town, it was time to make good use of the rooftop inside our hotel. It is not secret that Tiff and I love these kinds of Boujee setups. It was time to pull our swimsuits and soak up some sun with a few cocktails. It was such a vibe, Tiff and I even manage to make some new friends who were travelling from Norway and London. I live for those kinds of spontaneous evenings.
This is how I spent the rest of my evening!
DAY 3 – Getting lost in those Barcelona streets!
The next place to visit on our list was La Ramblas. Everyone that I spoke to prior to this trip highly recommended it.This made me even more eager to check it out but not before getting stuck into some Tapas. Now I know what I am about to say might offend a lot of people, I apologise in advance but I did not like Paella or Sangaria. I had high hopes for both sadly but from what I tasted in Barcelona, it is a no from me.
Situated in La Ramblas is La Boqueria a large public market that has everything you could think of food wise. It is a very busy and loud marketplace that actually reminded of Brixton. I actually found some of the market vendors extremely rude and abrasive. Which was kind of disappointing but whenever I detected a little attitude I just walked away without departing with my coins. Who has time in 2018 for trash behaviour? certainly not me.
Inside the market was super busy and It was difficult not to notice most of the stalls were owned by Asians. There was even a Caribbean stall filled with foods from the many Islands. I was shook because I did not expect to see that in Barcelona. I hardly saw any Spanish market vendors and I have to be honest I found it very odd.
As we continued our stroll through the market, Tiffany tried to convince me to get a tattoo but I refused. I did however, accept her challenge to try some Oysters for the first time. I initially put up a fight of course but eventually gave in. Let’s just say no amount of hot pepper or lemon juice could have made those oysters taste any good. My reaction video will be available on my Instagram later today, so make sure you check it out!
The best thing we did in La Ramblas was get lost. Every road we turned down led us to a new street, with more shops, more food and even more people. It felt like a little crystal maze and I enjoyed the freedom of flowing freely through. I did not know what was to come next and this kept my adrenaline pumping.
Flowing freely through Barcelona was easy, deciding what we wanted to do was what we found difficult. Tiff and I are so used to planning ahead that we felt slightly out of place when there was no itinerary in place. There is so much to do in Barcelona and we were trying our best to see all that we could.
We made a quick pit stop at the Hard rock Cafe to catch our bearings and sip on some cocktails. After careful deliberation, we decided to go and check out more of Gaudi’s work at his house. Thank God we were able to gain access to his premises for the price of 4.50 euros. I was super pleased because I would have been disappointed if we got turned away like the last time.
Casa Musei Gaudi grounds is amazing, this man was a certified genius of an architect. For him to be able to build something of that magnitude in those days shows he was ahead of his time. I was able to see some more of his work and as well as some of his original property from his bedroom. I thought that was super dope as it reminded me of my visit to the Bob Marley Mausoleum in St.Ann Bay Jamaica back in 2013.
More pics below
The Barcelona sun was stepping on our necks and since our setting spray for our make up had failed us , it was time to cut our visit short.I somehow convinced Tiff that we should head over to the Bunkers Del Carmel. Shout out to my Travel blogging Sister Annabel, it was her blog post on Barcelona that inspired me to go and check it out. This place was worth the hassle because it allowed us to get a good viewpoint of the city from the Carmel neighbourhood. I must say loved the Carmel neighbour, I felt like I could even live there because small community felt so cosy. It was filled with homes, departments and local shops not to mention the warm and friendly people.
On our way up to the Bunkers, we passed by a family playing cards in their front garden. As soon as they spotted us some members called out and cheered. We all exchanged smiles and of course a few hellos. It was such a beautiful organic moment filled with good energy that makes me feel warm to this day. I wish that Tiff and I walked up a bit up further or stayed at the Bunkers till sundown but time was not on our hands.
I am a sucker for a good view so our visit to the Bunkers was definitely a highlight for me. The view was breathtaking and as I looked out into the view, I could not help but reflect for a short moment. A year before, I was halfway through my Post break up travels, so much was taking place in my life at the time. But a year on so much in my life had changed right before my very eyes. All I could do was a smile and soak up that moment.
These pictures do the view no justice. If you ever plan to visit Barcelona go and check it out.
As you know we had no access to any taxis so our nightlife was up in smoke. We had no other choice but to get back to our hotel before the sun went down. I look forward to getting all dressed up on my holiday,in fact getting dressed and taking fire pictures is the best part, lol. Tiffany is just the same this is why we make a good travel team. Our slay is in sync and we really compliment each other well.
All of this travel glam does come at a price though and since the slay process took so long we missed dinner reservation. To be honest with you because we looked so good it was worth it. This is the downside of travelling in a pair sometimes it take forever for both of you to get ready. When we went to Rome back in January we operated on a tight schedule but for Barcelona things were different.
Since our evening slay and our mini photo shoot consumed all of our time we had no other choice but to roam the Barcelona streets in our evening dresses on the hunt for some dinner. Please believe we ended up in a pizza shop nearby our hotel. We ordered two large pizzas and went up to the rooftop bar inside our hotel to eat it in style.
It was the funniest thing ever and I loved every minute of it. I wanted to upload the theatrics in real time but I felt like it was better to enjoy that moment and tell you about it after. Tiff and I spent the rest of our night eating pizza, laying across a Cabana bed under the Barcelona stars. This was a priceless moment with my cousin that I will cherish forever.
Day 4 – Us girls VS The Heatwave
I am sure you would agree that our evening was extremely eventful. We deserved to sleep in and start our day around lunchtime. One thing I regret most about this trip was not adding breakfast to our hotel booking. We believed that we were going to set out every morning and to find those amazing breakfast spot recommendations. Unfortunately it never happened that way and on this particular day the breakfast we ordered from a local food spot was absolute trash.
As Tiff and I was so over our ‘dusty brunch’ we made our way to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which was a short walking distance from our hotel. The national museum showcases some of Catalonia’s visual art from the 10 and 20th century. The architecture of this building really draw me and I really reminded me of Capital Hill in Washington DC. It was a good way to spend our afternoon. I did managed to snap a few pictures, but we did not stay for long because the heat was killing us and strangely we both started to feel really sick.
Our plan to hit the beach went right out of the window but we figured since we had one more day left in Barcelona we could finish off our sightseeing the next day. Tibidabo Amusement Park and the Picasso Museum was still on our to-do list, but we felt like we could risk having a rest day, after all we were on holiday.
As soon as we got back to our hotel both Tiffany and I were violently sick. Our dodgy breakfast brunch had clearly done us over. Our last day plans seemed to be in limbo. Being sick is horrible in general but being sick on holiday is the absolute worst. Somehow i managed to bounce back after a few hours but Tiffany was slow to recover. With a heavy push from Tiff , I decided to go out and conquer the last day in Barcelona on my own.
This was a major deal for me since I have never been by myself in another country before, as always have a Travel buddy close by.
Be sure to check out my next post to find out about my solo adventures in Barcelona. It will be out later this week and it is not to be missed.
P.S – If you plan to visit Barcelona and need some ideas about what to do, check out my girl Annabel’s blog, it was a big help on this trip (click here)
Lots of Love