travel

The Barcelona Diaries | Part Two: La Basílica de la Sagrada Família

Here is the second instalment of my series: The Barcelona Diaries and today I bring to you La Sagrada Família. Possibly the most famous tourist attraction in Barcelona? You can definitely tell why, Gaudí’s work is absolutely stunning. Even though the building still isn’t finished, it doesn’t take away from the absolutely breathtaking exterior. When doing a tour of the city, the narration on the bus told us that Gaudí wasn’t concerned about the finish date of his Basílica de la Sagrada Família, because his ‘client is in no hurry’ as God has all the time in the world. The quote really stuck with me, as I think it shows his passion and patience for what he loves.

 

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I visited La Basílica de la Sagrada Família when I was 10 years old with my grandparents, and I loved it. It brought back a lot of nostalgia for me, and it is definitely a place I hold close to my heart. We actually bought a ticket to enter the building, which cost €18. I would say that if you are planning on visiting La Sagrada Família, you should book your tickets to enter the building online. We waited until we got there, and when you buy the ticket, you have to wait for the entry time. It makes for a lot of waiting around, so I would definitely book online. Also, we booked only the basic ticket, which gives you access to the ground floor only, but should you want to go into the towers or visit other areas, you will need to get an advanced ticket.

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travel

Segovia, Spain

Another travel post, and this time we took a 30 minute train from Madrid Chamartín to Segovia Guiomar! It seems kind of silly that it took this long for me to go to Segovia, as it seems to be the closest place to Madrid that was worth visiting. It definitely didn’t disappoint, and in a way it reminded me of Toledo, that is, quintessentially Spanish. Everything made of stone, the smell of tapas filling the streets and aged men drinking shots of coffee and smoking a cigar in small cafe bars. Being that Segovia is relatively small, we managed to see the main attractions in just a few short hours – the Aqueduct, the Cathedral and the Alcázar. We did a guided tour of the Cathedral itself, and reached the top of the tower which gave us gorgeous views of Segovia and it’s snowy mountains. We wandered through the Jewish Quarter, and through the narrow cobbled alley ways with hidden tapas bars and souvenir shops. We bought postcards and newspapers in the Plaza Mayor and also had a jug of Sangria while people-watching. And, as recommended to us by so many of our Spanish colleagues at work, we tried el cochinillo (the suckling pig): a Segovian speciality, and it was delicious! For anyone looking to do day trips from Madrid, Segovia is definitely the best choice.

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travel

Barcelona, Spain

Today’s post is another travel post, this time from the beautiful city of Barcelona, one of my favourite cities in the world! Barcelona is a city that brings so much nostalgia for me, as it is the first major European city I visited with my grandparents. Barcelona is a city which I liken to Porto in Portugal: it has the best of everything, it has a bustling city centre which is packed full of people, but it also has Port Vell and the beach, and so it has something for everyone’s taste. I spent 5 days and 4 nights in the city, and we stayed in El Barrio Gótico (The Gothic Quarter), which was a great location for anyone interested in visiting Barcelona. Barcelona is easy to walk through, everything seems to be well connected, but we bought a 10 trip metro ticket that lasted us the full 5 days and cost only around €10, so thats another great tip for anyone visiting the city soon! We ate churros by the Port, wandered down Passeig de Lluís Companys and under the Arc de Triomf and we took a tour of Camp Nou Stadium. The star of the show truly was Antoni Gaudí: we passed by the Casa Milà and the Casa Batlló, we visited the Basílica de la Sagrada Família and even went inside and saw the beauty of the interior, and we visited the most beautiful attraction, and arguably my favourite place in Barcelona: Park Güell. We had a night out at Jamboree (a great R&B/hip hop club for anyone interested), we wandered down La Rambla and we watched the sun set at the beach. Another gorgeous place that we visited was Montjuïc, we took a cable car to the peak and visited the castle. In all, Barcelona did not disappoint: it was everything I remembered, everything I expected and even more, and will forever be one of my all time favourite cities!

Before I let you move on and see the photographs I took of the city, I have decided that I took so many photographs, and treasure Barcelona so much, that I’m going to use those photographs to start a series of posts: The Barcelona Diaries. It will be a five part series, and I will be writing individually about my favourite places in Barcelona. So keep a look out for upcoming posts! 

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travel

La Catedral de Salamanca

As I’ve previously written, I visited the city of Salamanca in Spain (around 2 hours away from Madrid on a high speed Renfe train), and whilst I was there, I visited the cathedral. I was going to briefly write about this in my travel post, but I decided that the cathedral was just too beautiful to brush over in a general post. So this post is dedicated to the stained glass windows, the gold plated chapels and the intricate details of the dome. No flash photography is allowed inside the cathedral, but photos without flash are permitted and so below I have included some that I took during my visit. I haven’t visited many cathedrals or churches, but I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was! The ticket was around €4, discounts for retirees, students and young children are available, and I was given a handset which explained each area of cathedral in detail, in English (many languages are available). I don’t believe that my photographs capture the true beauty of the cathedral, so if you ever happen to find yourself in Salamanca or nearby, you should definitely pay a visit.

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travel

Toledo, Spain

As I write this, it’s February 25th although I’m not sure when I’ll schedule this to be posted. Today I took a bus from Plaza Elíptica, Madrid to Toledo. I was so intrigued and curious to visit, because I’d heard so much about it: I was not disappointed. I’ve never visited a city like Toledo before. The city maintains three religious quarters: the Jewish quarter, the Moorish quarter and the Christian quarter. There is so much history and culture packed into one tiny city, I learnt so much. The city also has a river running through it, the Río Tajo, and there are some high viewpoints from which you can see gorgeous panoramas of the entire city. As someone who comes from a rural area, Toledo’s greenery and endless hills made me feel right at home. And in contrast, the hot weather and complete unique nature of the city made me also feel as if I were on holiday. We wandered through the Plaza de Zocodover, visited the Alcázar and visited the Jewish quarter and the beautiful synagogues that still stand there today. We passed by the cigarrales in the hills (which are absolutely beautiful), we had tapas and sangria in Cervecería Trébol and we crossed the Puente de San Martín which separates the city into two. In all, Toledo is a complete cultural and historical centre and I absolutely fell in love. I always write in my travel posts, that I hope my photographs convey the beauty of the places I’ve been to, but for Toledo this isn’t possible. The only way to see the true beauty of the city is to visit!

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travel

Portuguese Architecture

I don’t really know much about architecture, nor is it a huge interest of mine. But when I was living in Portugal, the one thing that characterised the many Portuguese cities that I visited were the buildings. The quaint, colourful houses and the extravagant, classic landmarks. I’m not sure what style the architecture is, how old it is, or even much about the buildings, but I just loved looking at them. I took so many photographs of them whilst I was in Coimbra, and travelling to other cities. I thought that I would make a post with a collection of my photographs, I took them in cities such as Coimbra, Porto, Lisbon, Aveiro, Braga etc.

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travel

Salamanca, Spain

Another day, another Spanish city! This time I travelled 2 hours north to Salamanca, a city I’ve wanted to visit for quite a while now. It certainly didn’t disappoint, it’s just as beautiful as I thought it would be! The city, with its many churches and cathedrals, is a chorus of bells. It bustles with people of all ages, from retirees to students, with the city being home to the oldest University in the country. The city is a  mixture of historical and cultural innovation, and one thing I will say is that it feels stereotypically Spanish, and I write that with the greatest of intentions. Everything that personifies Spain and Spanish identity is concentrated into this one, compact city. There is so much history, so many great places to sample authentic Spanish food and of course, Sangria! The city is filled with art, education and heritage. We took a trip to the Cathedral of Salamanca, and had hot chocolate at Salamanca Coffee. We wandered through the Plaza Mayor (very similar to that of Madrid!) and saw the entire city by hopping on a tourist train. We worked our way round the many convents, churches and other religious buildings and bought souvenirs from the many shops on Salamanca’s answer to Gran VíaIn all, Salamanca is a beautiful, quintessentially Spanish city that everybody should make a trip to given the opportunity!

 

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travel

Falling in Love with Madrid

I’ve been living in Madrid, Spain for little under one entire month now. The time has flown by, and with the passing of time has come my infatuation with the city. I’ve never been much of a big-city person, despite living in Manchester when I am in England, which isn’t actually too big or overwhelming. But Madrid is in a league of its own: its busy, always bustling with people and loud, but I love it. It has a certain charm about it which I’ve never seen in a city. I’ve visited London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and other cities which are all equally as busy and bustling but they don’t have the same charisma as Madrid. I found it difficult at first, Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and streams of people in Gran Vía make for a far cry from Coimbra’s quaint river banks and the ever-so relaxed Rua Visconde da Luz, but I’ve slowly become adapted and now I can’t see myself anywhere but here. From wandering through El Parque del Retiro at dusk, to grabbing a quick drink on the rooftop terrace at Plaza de Cibeles. From wandering out of the park to the view of Puerta de Alcalá to watching the world go by in the Plaza Mayor. Even the little things: hopping on and off the metro, hearing Spanish 24/7 and being given tapas every time you order a drink: you really can’t beat Madrid’s quirks. Of course, I’ve been taking photographs at every given opportunity, and so I’ve left some of them below. Hopefully the charisma and charm of this amazing city is portrayed in my photos!

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travel

Valladolid, Spain

Having only been in Spain a mere fortnight, I was nervous to begin ticking off my list of must-see Spanish cities, as unlike Portugal, I’ll be doing it alone. But Valladolid seemed like a good place to start, as my friend is doing an Erasmus placement there. So I took a Renfe high speed train on February 10th from Madrid Chamartín to Valladolid Campo Grande and met my friend when I arrived. It was a great weekend, we went out for a couple of nights to the nearby Erasmus bars and I met a lot of new people, my Spanish was really tested but I enjoyed speaking it as much as I did! We wandered through the Plaza Zorilla, visited all of the pretty churches that Valladolid has and took a bus to Rio Shopping. We had tapas and walked through the Parque Campo Grande, where we saw the bird house and   the many peacocks that wander around the park. The weather was temperamental, some days it was warm and sunny and others it was cloudy, but hopefully you can see from my photographs just how pretty the city is!

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