Lack of sleep is an incredible thing. Go too long and it can be quite dangerous, but hang on to it for those beginning side effects and the world is a pretty interesting place. My teen and I arrived to Barcelona a day before our cruise with the Carnival Sunshine was scheduled to depart.
I wanted to arrive a day early because I had never been to this great Spanish city, and my son had never been to Europe. I never sleep on planes, I try to but just can’t, so I knew that it would be an interesting day for me.
We thought the best way to explore the city, in just one day, would be to take a hop on/hop off tour bus. The cost was about US$32.00 each, an inexpensive option for what you get which is access to three different lines that showcase three different main points of the city. Our ambition was big, but our energy was low. Something I later learned about as well, were the free walking tours that get together in Barcelona (and other parts of Europe), which have received high ratings, have been described as one of the best tour experiences, and really only require that you tip the guide at the end.
The stops for the tour buses are easy to find and get to.
Upper deck baby! So happy! So sleepy!
Because of the jet lag, I remember Barcelona in somewhat psychedelic colors. I was riding high on the top of the tour bus, as the hot sun beat upon us. The haze of sleeplessness took a city of beauty and made it even more fascinating. The most impressive memory of Barcelona and why I can’t wait to return, is the work of art that it is. The architecture, the sculptures, the historic sights; they envelope you every where you go. I fell in love with Barcelona, it’s energy and people, who were all so friendly and generous with their smiles. It’s always a highlight for me when I can speak Spanish freely to everyone, but they almost always speak English as well.
Inside view of the post office. The POST OFFICE, people!
The downfall to a one-day visit to Barcelona, while jet lagged especially, is that it’s just not enough. It’s like taking a small bite off an already small sweet chocolate. A mere tasting. What is good about our tour bus experience is that we got to mark all the places to go back to, and got enough of a feeling for the place to not only want to return, but also feel comfortable in recommending it as destination to others.
Barcelona is so easy to navigate. It’s a busy city, large in size, but everything from public transport to traffic runs smoothly, and walking the city is a lot of fun and manageable.
Mercat Santa Caterina was an unexpected find. Delicious, fresh, authentic treats and delicacies for an affordable price.
Where We Stayed
The Hotel Miramar Barcelona, a member of Preferred Boutique, was our one night stay, and I can’t think of a more ideal location not only because of its proximity to the port, but also because of its distance from the city center. I believe the taxi driver called it “the country”, which really it’s not, but it isn’t right in the thick of it all. The views however make none of that matter, especially from the comfort of your balcony.
The hotel is located just steps away from the gorgeous Petra Kelly Gardens, a wonderful refuge for early morning runs or walks and romantic sunset strolls. We had a wonderful breakfast experience in the hotel’s restaurant, the Forestier, which we enjoyed on the outer deck overlooking the garden. It was easy to walk to our tour bus stop from the hotel, discounted tickets for which we were able to purchase at the hotel’s concierge. My time in Barcelona felt like a dream. It was short and sweet and full of beauty. We saw a lot thanks to that tour without having exhausted ourselves, and we even got to eat some great food. If I were to return I would spend my money on two things: museums and food (though note that most museums get really busy, really fast – we saw lines for a lot of them) and whether you take a tour like we did, or decide to venture out on your own, you won’t be disappointed. The city sights will entrance you and make you want to take your time, or as in my case, want to make you come back.
Flamenco dancers came on board the Carnival Sunshine to send us off as we departed the port from Barcelona. It was beautiful. A must see when in the city.
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Disclosure: We received a discounted stay courtesy of Hotel Miramar Barcelona. My teen and I were guests on the Carnival Cruise Sunshine during their Mediterranean voyage. This was one of our stops. All opinions expressed here are my own.