Weekend jaunt to Barcelona

by Emily Ladd
   
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Barcelona’s appeal is legendary. For years my friends have been telling me about their trips to Spain’s second city, about the Spanish reverence for friends, family and food, and the warm reception they’ve enjoyed. So a weekend getaway to the Catalonian capital was long overdue. I enlisted two friends – also Barcelona virgins – and we booked a three-night long-weekend break.

Enter the Eurostars Grand Marina in the city’s lively Port Vell (old harbour) district. The imposing white, minimalist exterior of this mega hotel – it actually looks more like a transatlantic liner – gave us little idea of the warm hospitality we’d receive once inside; in fact we were greeted like old friends.

The facilities are extremely spacious and well thought out. My room was bright and comfortable, with a colour scheme of warm tones that seemed perfectly suited to the hotel’s Mediterranean surroundings. I even had a hydro-massage bathtub and a little balcony – the sea and city vistas were quite stunning.

The Grand Marina was a great base from which to discover Barcelona, and a lovely place to relax when we weren’t out exploring. We all made good use of the lovely pool (which also offers amazing views), swimming every day, and I even had a quick session in the gym. As a treat on our last day we each booked a treatment – I went for the Cinnamon Delight Massage – a truly blissful experience. As newcomers to Barcelona we wanted a handy base from which to explore, and Eurostars Grand Marina is just that. With lots of attractions within a stone’s throw we were able to walk to many sites – always our preferred mode of transport – while others were only a short taxi ride away.

First stop was the spectacular Sagrada Familia, the famed Catholic church designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. From here we headed for La Rambla and the Barrio Gotico, with its streets full of character. We also visited the Olympic Harbour, which was regenerated for the 1992 Olympics and remains a jewel of the city. It’s a popular tourist spot and turned out to be a great place to while away a leisurely evening.

Another attraction that defines the city is the Picasso Museum. The gallery features many of Picasso’s most famous works, reflecting the artist’s passion for life and art. Parc Güell, the beautiful Gaudí-designed garden complex, is also well worth a visit.

There are lots of other sites of interest of course – the city’s central park and zoo, its opera house and the Miró Foundation to name just a few. If you’re visiting with children you might want to set aside an afternoon for Tibidabo – a mountain overlooking the city that is home to a theme park dating back to 1889.

But whatever you do, take time to explore the restaurants. For foodies like us Barcelona is a dream. I’m always keen to try something new, so was pleased when we stumbled upon a pretty little restaurant where we sampled some pintxos – a delicious Basque take on tapas.

Hotel facilities
  • The restaurant offers both traditional Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine to suit all tastes, and you can dine on the beautiful orange-tree-lined terrace six months of the year
  • Outdoor swimming pool with great views, and a fully equipped gym
  • Massage treatments can be booked in the privacy of your room
Don’t miss
  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Parc Güell
  • Barrio Gotico
  • La Rambla
  • Picasso Museum
  • Tibidabo
  • Olympic Harbour
  • Montjuïc
  • Parc de Ciutadella

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