Bicycles and Bubbles; Three Days in Barcelona

Bicycles and Bubbles; Three Days in Barcelona

I don’t know what took me so long to finally get to Barcelona. A vibrant city overflowing with #culture and #history, we balanced out our #active adventures with by indulging in old-fashioned #food and #wine, of which there is no shortage in this Catalonian capital.


Barcelona is one of those cities with an energy that invades your body and envelops your senses from the moment you set foot on its staunchly Catalonian soil. Like Berlin and New York, this is one destination that well and truly justifies the hype that surrounds it.

Barcelona is one of those cities with an energy that invades your body and envelops your senses...

We arrived on the late train from just across the French border, well Nice actually but there were changes to make in Marseille, Montpellier and a small frontier post. A long trip, si, and flying would have been easier, claro, but part of us wanted to soak up the romance of an old-fashioned train journey, one that languidly navigated a rather scenic curve of the Mediterranean coastline en route to our destination.

Despite a new day being less than two hours away, the city was seemingly only awakening from its afternoon slumber as we dropped our baggage at Barcelo Raval, our hotel close to La Rambla, Barcelona’s iconic promenade which connects the port to Plaça de Catalunya, at the heart of the city.

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Hotel Barceló Raval

 Rambla Del Raval 17-21, Barcelona, Spain
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It would have been rude not to have joined the crowds.

Avoiding the paella and sangria tourist traps which line La Rambla, we stuck to the pedestrianised streets of El Raval, one of the more colourful neighbourhoods of the city and an integral part of Barcelona’s historic Old Town. It was among these narrow alleyways that we stumbled upon a tapas bar overflowing with rustic charm and deliciously rich Priorat, the fabulous red wine which comes from vineyards in the south-west of Catalonia. Matched with our tapas, a pick and mix selection of classics including patatas bravas, boles de picolat (meatballs) and chorizo, we indulged in the quintessential food and wine pairing.

The next morning, after a strong coffee or two, we decided that a bicycle tour of the city was in order. It seemed like the ideal way to become acquainted with the city, whilst working off the excesses of the evening before.

Barcelona is made for being discovered by bike, since, apart from the very scenic Montjuïc Hill (the setting of the 1992 Olympic Games and the home to some of the city’s most breathtaking panoramas), the centre is fairly flat, and so a cycle tour can be enjoyed no matter what your fitness level is. 

Barcelona is made for being discovered by bike

As such, however, this segment of the tourist market is over-saturated but we were sticking with a friend’s tried and tested recommendation; Fat Tire Bike Tours -Barcelona City Tour, which started from the very central Plaça Sant Jaume.

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 Barcelona, Spain
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If, the previous evening, we had only really seen La Rambla and El Raval, by mid-afternoon we were Barcelona pros, champions of navigating the historic centre on two wheels! Our witty English speaking guide regaled us with entertaining bites of history and local scandal as we spent a fabulous four hours exploring highlights such as the Gothic Quarter, Gaudi’s incredible Sagrada Família, the cool breeze of Parc de la Ciutadella, Port Vell and along the beach-side promenade at Barcelonetta.

Thanks to the Fat Tire team we’d been given the lay of the Barcelona cityscape.

Thirsty for more of Gaudi’s wildly imaginative work, we made our way up towards Parc Güell, in the north of the city centre. One of Gaudi’s most majestic masterpieces, the park offers an unmissable feast for the eyes; a veritable kaleidoscope of bright colours and whimsical design unlike anything else in the world.

a veritable kaleidoscope of bright colours and whimsical design unlike anything else in the world

A dazzling day discovering this magical city was matched by a parochial and atmospheric evening. The local football team (one of the best in the world) was taking on a challenger to their crown and the bars were heaving with fans cheering on their beloved Barça.

The new day brought a change of scenery and a desire to explore the countryside surrounding Spain’s second largest city as well as enjoy another of the region’s epicurean delights: Cava; a fizz which can justifiably call itself Spanish Champagne, since it is made using the same method as the world’s favourite bubbles.

The new day brought a change of scenery and a desire to explore the countryside

Combining our thirst for local wine with a dash of history and culture, we joined the Monserrat and Cava Trail day trip from Barcelona. After a morning spent soaking up the dominating mountain scenery and wandering through the Benedictine abbey from which the other Monserrat, in the Caribbean, takes its name, it was off to Sant Sadurni D’Anoia, a picturesque village a mere 50 kilometres from central Barcelona and the home of Cava.

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 Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona, Spain
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Our visit led us to the famous Codorníu cellars, one of the oldest and most famous of all the producers. We cooled off in their underground cellars, amongst bottles of Cava patiently ageing until they are deemed ready to be drunk, and learnt the history behind this fascinating sparkling wine. Enjoying a glass or two in situ was the perfect way to raise a toast to an excellent day.

Enjoying a glass or two in situ was the perfect way to raise a toast to an excellent day

Our last morning was spent browsing the eclectic shops and watching the colourful characters of the streets of El Raval, before hitting up a beloved Barcelona institution, La Boqueria. 

One of the city’s most vibrant produce markets, a morning stroll soaking up the sights and smells is guaranteed to awaken all of the senses and offered the welcome opportunity to stock up on local treats before our long return train journey back to Nice.

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