Have you ever been to Barcelona? If you haven’t, firstly please add it to your bucket list. Not only does it have fairly year-round sunny, vibrant weather, it’s also home to some of the most astounding architecture. For someone who has no knowledge, or admittedly any interest in architecture, you cannot help but be wowed as you walk through the cobbled streets that are home to some of the oldest churches, cathedrals and buildings, most of which were designed by the incredibly talented and famous Antoni Gaudí. Look him up – some of it will take your breath away!
But what Barcelona has, that only a Mediterranean town like that can hold, are the most fantastic beaches. The beaches in Barcelona are unlike any beach I have ever felt before. In Australia, we are used to yellow/white sand with a flour-like texture, especially right up the top in the Whitsundays. But my first experience with Spanish beaches left me a little underwhelmed with its first impression, as the sand was so grainy I had to wear shoes to protect my feet. This all changed as I not only grew used to it, but took the time to have a look around at the interesting things that Barcelona beaches have that we definitely don’t have in Australia!
Here are a few observations:
· Nude/clothed. Clothing is somewhat optional on Barcelona beaches. Where I was sunning myself under the scorching rays on the Mediterranean sun, not 10 metres away people were playing soccer – nude. Families, old hairy men, young couples; not one single type but everyone! I admit, I did go topless – but that’s as daring as I was on my first Euro trip!
· Beach huts. About every 200 metres along the beach were these great little wooden beach huts, with a balcony of sorts with chairs and tables. From here, you could escape the sun a little as it was roofed, and order plastic cups of two Euro beers and little paper plates filled with a variety of tapas options. When you’ve been there a few days, and your skin is starting to develop a beautiful deep brown shade, the sun is shining and the water’s positively sparkling, there is nothing quite like enjoying cheap Spanish beer and eating perfect parcels of food the country is arguably most famous for.
· Grainy sand. The sand is really thick and grainy and can take a big of getting used to. It’s not as comfortable to lie on, but when you’re close to the water it sinks a lot and makes for an easier meander down the beach! It also has some stunning shells you can walk along and collect as a keepsake.
· Close to everything! From the beach, we could wander back to our hostel and then walk straight into the main area of Las Ramblas*, down to the Port and explore the stunning Gaudí architecture. If you have a chance, do a walking tour. We paid around 10 Euros each and got a walking history tour which was absolutely fascinating, dinner and sangria at a restaurant, and a Flamenco show! Nothing can quite showcase the Spanish lifestyle like that!
After travelling around Europe for a few months, by the time I got to Barcelona it was a welcome respite to our whirlwind touring. Days filled with sun, sangria, surf and sleep – nothing better! I’m yet to visit Madrid, but if it’s even half as fantastic as my week in Barcelona was, I can’t wait!
* Las Ramblas is the longest street in Barcelona, and the most famous. It is actually four streets in a straight line put together and given the collective name. Down the street you’ll find famous Human Statues, all painted in metallic colours and OTT feathers. You can also buy any kind of animal to keep as a pet – badger, anyone?
Written by Madelin Baldwin