Days 4 & 5 – The district of Sant Marti

 

Sant Marti is a district in the east of Barcelona, developed from several different areas like the medieval district of Clot or the former industrial area of Poblenou. Since many areas have been completely reconstructed in the last century, the district has a postmodernist vibe I was keen to take in. Since I was only somewhat familiar to the area and being accommodated nearby (in relative terms), it made for a prime candidate for wandering.

 

Overcast. The beach is virtually devoid of activity

 

On a sunny weekend day, these stretches of the beach would be packed. They also see fewer tourists here, as these are farther away from the centre, which makes it a great spot if you feel like studying frolicking locals.

 

Games have to be played despite the weather

 

Some of the backstreets in this area are a bit more gritty than what you’re used to normally see in Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting areas where your wandering steps can take you.

 

Graffiti power

Not impressed

 

This particular street was bordered by a long brick wall, covered in graffiti. I wish I could post all of them.

 

Arteries of the city: Grand Via de les Corts Catalanes

 

I love how well connected the city is. Taking one of these covered or sunken roads quickly takes you to where you have to be, bypassing all the boring stop lights. For example, taking the one that runs parallel to the beach, you can go all the way from Diagonal Mar to Montjuic in under 5 minutes, which basically means crossing the whole city in the amount of time it would take to floss your teeth.

After all the to and fro, a proper meal was needed. We chose La Penela, a Galician restaurant close to Placa de Catalunya. You have to try their tortilla de patatas, made in the Galician way.

 

They also have “melt in your mouth beef”, this I swear

 

For the last day, we took a walk through Gracia, another great district of Barcelona.

It’s impossible not to discover a football pitch here and there all over this city, or why not, even a Ferris wheel.

 

This reminds me of home

 

The size of the Sant Pau hospital complex does not cease to amaze even after repeated visits. With a history of more than 600 years,  the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau got a new life as a Museum after the hospital was moved into nearby premises.

 

The Sant Pau hospital, seen from another angle

 

The first time I have visited Barcelona, in 2011, the given estimate for finishing the Sagrada Familia was around 2040. The latest estimates put the finishing date much closer, in 2026. It’s always fascinating to see what new parts have been erected since your last visit. The new additions are not yet weather-stained so they will be quite easy to spot.

 

Looking down towards Sagrada Familia. They are progressing fast

 

A good reason to visit the city in the spring is to take in the myriad flowers.

 

These seem to start as yellow and get purplish as they ripen. Nice one nature!

 

Mercats or markets are dotted all over Barcelona, with Mercat de la  Boqueria being the most famous one. That also makes the prices there quite extravagant. I promised myself to never shop there again after once I ended up paying 9 euros for a kilo of tomatoes. They were tasty, but not that tasty.

If you plan to cook your own food while in town, why not head for one of the less famous but equally well-stocked markets from your neighbourhood, like Sant Antoni or Clot? Even in these less touristy places, the prices can vary wildly so I’d suggest first a tour to weigh in the offerings, before making your picks.

 

Another one of the many markets in Barcelona, Mercat de Clot

 

My favourite travelling activity is taking to new, unexplored streets, to see what new wonders await after the next corner. I am never disappointed with this approach; the only problem is when my legs give in. If I notice the neighbourhood is a bit shady, I try to leave the area so as not to tempt fate.

 

A bridge in Clot

 

It’s impossible to find a roller shutter door that has escaped the fearless spray paint can of the Barcelona graffer.  Most of these graffiti are just jumbled signatures, which makes the good ones so much more noticeable.

 

Ragnar, the white walker

 

If you ever go as far as Diagonal del Mar, the nearby park is worth visiting.

 

The far away Park of Diagonal Mar

 

If you made it this far, let me tell you a bit about the prices:

  • We’ve paid 587 Euros for 4 nights on Airbnb, for a flat with 3 bedrooms. That amounts to around 195 euros per person. I’d say the accommodation is by far the biggest price you will pay in Barcelona.
  • Spent another 200 euros on food, in 5 days. We only ate out so this sum can surely be lowered should you choose to cook at home. Fruits are really cheap compared to London.  You can get them at one of the many fruit and veggie shops or the Mercats. Try going for the ones that are not in the city centre. We had cheap and extremely tasty fresh fruits every night and it was a real treat.
  • 5.90 were spent on the Aerobus, one way. Otherwise, zero was spent on transportation.
  • the plane ticket prices will depend a lot on the period you are targeting, on how many months in advance you are booking and obviously, on where you’re coming from. London to Barcelona, bought 3 months in advance, was 65 pounds for the outbound, as May is already a sought out month.

Since the Airbnb was paid months in advance, as was the plane ticket, I’ve only spent around 200 euros for 5 days. Not too bad, I’d say, especially given I was quite free with the money, as befits a vacation.

Until next time, don’t stop wandering!

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