Latin launch and España short time....tale of two cities...Barcelona v Madrid
09.09.2015 - 19.09.2015 30 °C
Barcelona is rightfully famous for wondrous gothic architecture, bustling laneways, an amazing harbour, full on nightlife and much more.
Walk and Discover
I did a lot of walking, as the weather was lovely and it's a fairly flat city.
La Sagrada Familia
A big draw for me was to see La Sagrada Familia - and it did not disappoint!!
Gaudi's vision thus far is nothing short of spectacular, and it's wonderful to see Barcelona's ongoing commitment to realising it!
Here's a tip - book the tickets online well in advance. The ticket office isn't always open, and online tickets sell out fast.
There are wifi hotspots for tourists to connect with their own devices and purchase tickets (you need to reserve time slots, which are allocated and limited)
Tickets are scanned via your device at the gate.
I wasted a bit of time walking down there, only to be able to reserve a slot for the following day.
It's well worth splurging on a ticket to go up one of the towers!
The views are incredible!
Another hint is to look our for Antoni Gaudi's tomb within the complex. It isn't sign posted, but serenely surrounded by lit candles
Praktik is a superb Spanish hotel brand and their La Ramblas arm is remarkable, with awesome staff and really incredible rooms!
Reggaeton, Reggaeton, Reggaeton
I went to Boulevard on La Rambla on the Saturday night purely based on recommendations.
This place goes off!!
Both locals and tourists filled the joint to the brim and got their bounce on.
I arrived at 1am and before I knew it - the lights came on and it was 6am... but that's just the beginning...
There were a myriad of after party options for those inclined, but I waved the white flag and retreated home.
Fast Train to Madrid
If you are doing intercity travel within Spain I recommend the RENFE fast train rather than flying.
Total journey time is faster, it's cheaper, more comfortable and you see more!
I booked a tourista plus seat at Barcelona station and was soon on the high speed train bound for Madrid in first class luxury for EUR129.
There was a display in the cabin showing current speed, which hovered around 300km/h... boom!
The journey is markedly smooth with no bumps and there is a lovely countryside view to behold all the way.
Madrid, Madrid - how I love thee so much!
Cosmopolitan, unpretentious, raucous, friendly, stylish, with plenty to see and do, awesome parks, etc.
Again stayed at Praktik - the flagship Metropol branch in prime position next to Gran Via Metro.
This is absolutely my favourite city hotel on Earth and my second time here.
- Hint...look up photos with #Praktik on Instagram and the TripAdvisor reviews.
I was itching to get my Salsa on!!
The lady at hotel reception recommended Tropicana, near Plaza Espana.... so I went.
It was great to dust off the proverbial cobwebs, and after talking with their instructors she gave me some proper schooling in Kizomba!
There were also some wonderful performances!!!
Language was a barrier, however dance (yet again) proved to be a wonderful way to communicate and engage with others in spite of that.
Friendly and Funky Madrid
I caught up with friends living in Madrid and enjoyed really amazing food and atmosphere at Tuk Tuk restaurant and Lolina Vintage Cafe.
It would have been great to spend more time exploring - it really felt like an exciting and creative metropolis.
Bye Madrid, Adiós España
Madrid is a beautiful city, by foot and to behold from above.
If I had to choose between the two Spanish titans....Madrid has better and more comprehensive nightlife options, friendlier locals and doesn't feel nearly as touristy... more like a home.
If you're considering a visit to Madrid, don't hesitate any longer!