Early mornings are not my favourite.
I like my bed.
I like crawling out of bed when light has broken.
I like waking slowly to the smell of a fresh cup of tea and the sound of eggs sizzling away whilst I sip upon it. But I also like travelling, and on days where I travel, all of the above goes out of the window.
Instead early flights are booked, alarms are almost slept through and shoes are slipped on as I hop through the door ready to catch the first train to Gatwick.
And my flight to Barcelona was no different.
Barcelona was a last (week) minute trip I had planned.
Whilst I was enjoying being back in England, 5 months of being in one place had my feet itching for discovering new lands, so I nabbed myself a last minute deal with British Airways.
After stepping off the plane and being surrounded in warm sunshine and a cool breeze that caressed me as it slipped by, the early morning was soon forgotten and I felt ready to explore, and after a swift and helpful check in at our hotel, I set off ready to do so.
My hotel was situated in Avenida Diagonal, an area that meant nothing to me before I got there. Busy schedules meant that I had no time to research areas or plan anything (my to do list literally just included: eat tapas & try sangria) prior to the trip, but after taking a stroll through the area I realised I got pretty lucky because I was in a gorgeous area filled with food.
Vivid colours of fruit stood out against the boxes they were nestled in and the smell of cured ham overflowed from it’s storefront and out into the streets, tantalising people as they walked by. Restaurants lined each side of the street, separated only by a strip filled with umbrellas sheltering alfresco diners from the midday sun.
After stopping for a quick bite and a glass of sangria my to do list was done and so I continued on with my walk. Gazing at the gorgeous balconies, neat little side-alleys and artful graffiti, before getting sand on my toes at the beach.
People sunbathed and swam, whilst others jogged alongside the views of the deep blue.
Outdoor gyms were in constant use and skateboards, rollerblades and push along scooters were commonly seen.
It was clear that Barcelona is a city that cares about health as pedestrian paths were wide, cars were minimal and people opted to use the healthier modes of transport that were so readily available. One of my favourite things about the city was how much effort had been put into cycling.
Bicycle lanes were common across the city, and were built as an alternative, not an afterthought.
El Bicing was by far one of the greatest things I’ve seen in a city’s attempts to go green. El Bicing is a bicycle borrowing system for the residents of Barcelona. It was launched in 2007 by Barcelona’s city council and has been an integral part of the city ever since.
Residents apply for a Bicing card, and after paying the annual subscription fee of €45, residents are enabled to pick up a bike from one of the racks and ride it to their destination. They can do this as many times as they like as long as the journey time doesn’t exceed half an hour (if it does they get charged €0.71 for every 30 minutes thereafter) and the bike is returned to one of the racks within that time frame. It’s a great incentive for people to get healthy and works so well because there are so many stands based around the city, making it easy for people to get to their destination and drop of their bikes without a hiccup.
The beach itself was busy, but not overcrowded and there wasn’t a single drop of litter. Bins were placed every few metres and as a result the beach was clean and a joy to walk along. But after such an early start, I decided to embrace Spanish tradition and take a siesta before dinner…