We arrived in Barcelona on the overnight train from Paris at 8am. We were staying at the Hotel Montecarlo which is located on La Rambla., We were quite worn out when we arrived. It was difficult to sleep on the train as it rattled its way through France. It was an easy decision to catch a taxi to our hotel. The cab fare to the hotel was 13€ which we thought was okay especially as it saved us the trouble of trying to work out trains etc straight off.
We booked the hotel through Booking.com before leaving Australia for an exceptionally good price. Our original plan was to not pre-book a hotel. However, we realised we would be in Barcelona for Easter, so thought it would be advisable to make the booking ahead of time.
The Montecarlo has a modern look and it really is quite impressive looking. All of the staff are amazingly helpful. Our room wasn’t ready, which is understandable considering how early we had arrived. The young man at reception was very apologetic, but we assured him that we understood. He then produced a map and proceeded to mark out where the hotel was and where the popular tourist spots were both in the immediate area and further afield.
Placa de Catalunya
We left our bags with the concierge and with map in hand we set off towards the Placa de Catalunya or the square of Catalunya. It’s only a short walk up La Rambla from the hotel and although it’s called a square it is actually a round shape.
The square has a large central area that is used at festival times and also on a regular basis by families and friends as a place to gather.
There are two large circular fountains at one end near the Metro entrance. These are illuminated at night.
Then there are the many beautiful sculptures around the park of which the Monument a Francesc Maciá is the most imposing. This monument was erected in honor of the former president of the Generalitat – the Catalan Government. It was created by Joseph Subirachs in 1991 who was also the architect in charge of construction at the Sagrada Familia.
There are a number of restaurants including the Hard Rock Cafe near the park along with clothing stores and the imposing white building belonging to El Corte Ingles, which is a department store that sells such items as food, clothing, electronic equipment etc and has branches throughout Spain. We shopped at El Corte Ingles on a number of occasions for food for the times we decided to eat in our room.
The selection is formidable but so is finding what you want. We would think we had found the cheese or salami section only to find another further on in the store. You need to purchase a bag for your purchases, something that has only started back in Australia.
The Square is also where you catch both of the hop on hop off buses that operate in Barcelona, the Barcelona Bus Turistic and Barcelona City Tours, and it is also where you catch the airport bus.
At the weekends there is plenty of activity with balloon sellers and stalls set up in the square.
It was time for a photo shoot of the many statues and the square. Then we headed over a couple of blocks to the Barcelona Cathedral.
From here we backtrack to La Ramblas to visit the La Boqueria the famous food market. Now this market is totaling amazing. The food is so fresh, tasty and relatively inexpensive.
Then it was a short walk back to the hotel to freshen up. Just a nice way to ease into a new city on day 1.
Tomorrow we will set off in earnest to begin our exploration of this beautiful city. I am so excited I can’t wait to see all that Barcelona has to offer.