Barcelona, it was the first time that we met.

Posted on July 31, 2012

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Devon – London – Paris – Barcelona – Lorca – Las Piedras

Stage four: Barcelona to Lorca

Stepping off the train in Barcelona, I was filled with a strange fear.  So very strange as I have spent much of my life in Spain, I love the country and the people, and have always felt at home there.  But prior to our visit, we had been filled with stories of pick pockets and muggings in Barcelona, and I was not sure what to expect.

I am delighted to say my experience was completely as I would expect for Spain, rather than what I had been led to believe. Beautiful, with a capital B.

We’d arrived at Franca Station and were due out of Sants Station the next day, so had decided to book a hotel nearby, meaning our stuff would be where it needed to be! We caught a train directly from one station to the other, clean, efficient and effortless. Even with our bags and that excited ten year old (‘only one more sleep until we see Grandma’).  The easiest city so far to navigate, lifts, escalators and moving walk-ways in abundance, and again, a friendly and warm welcome.

We’d booked into the Barcelo Sants, not expecting too much except somewhere to lay our heads.  But, talk about WOW factor. The hotel was amazing – we didn’t go to reception we went to the boarding desk, we didn’t take a lift, we went to the boarding gates and we didn’t push a key card into the door, we swiped it, Enterprise style, to access our suite.

In fact, so amazing, the ten year old was ready to forgo a visit to the Nou Camp to stay in the room. However, the lure of Messi and Iniesta was too strong, and we were soon off to explore the famous football ground and their impressive trophy cabinet.

Not a real football fan, I was there for my boys, two avid Manchester United fans, who pressed their noses against the cabinet containing the European cup with a sigh of ‘that should’ve been ours’ and who sat and watched video clips of the goals again, hoping against hope for a different score.

Despite my lack of love for the beautiful game, I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the Nou Camp, the story of Barcelona football club bringing Spain’s 20th century history into sharp focus – particularly when I read their club president was shot by Francoist forces in the 1930’s.  It’s more than a football museum, it’s a catalogue of sporting and social history, as well as passion for the club.

A great deal of thought had gone into the layout, the simple and interesting audio tour, the interactive, touch screen displays, the detail, something to hold everyone’s attention and capture their interest.  And their imagination, particularly the mention of famous footballers, including David Beckham, using the away team changing room.

A fun few hours and very atmospheric; even though it was not the football season and there was not one footballer in sight.

Our time in Barcelona was short, but we managed to soak up a bit of the atmosphere, the sights and sounds. We explored Las Ramblas, enjoyed a leisurely tapas lunch, and an awe inspiring visit to Gaudi’s Segrada Familia. A sight which drew a genuine and gobsmacking ‘wow’ from a ten year old’s lips.  Fantastic.  I couldn’t help but wonder what today’s town planners would say if they were presented with plans for such a masterpiece.

I’d never been to Barcelona before. I was immediately smitten.  It seems at one with itself, not trying too hard and not having to. It’s welcoming, not pretentious and as the song says ‘Barcelona, such a beautiful horizon; Barcelona, like a jewel in the sun’

We also had time to enjoy our suite at the Barcelo Sants, what a treat.  A hotel I would recommend whole heartedly, and one which I intend to revisit when I am next in Barcelona, which I can assure you, will be very soon.

Next stage five: Lorca to Las Piedras.

(See all images of the great train adventure on the facebook page)

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