Barcelona. Lovely Barcelona. It isn’t a city that changes quickly. I always feel like it’s exactly as I left it on my last visit. Which is great because I LOVE this place. I don’t want it to change! Here’re a few new things I learnt on my recent trip…
and make sure you check out my full Barcelona map and city guide here!
1. No Uber
Spain responded to protests and lawsuits by traditional cab drivers in late 2014 by banning Uber nationwide. So currently, there is no Uber at all in Barcelona, just in case you were thinking about getting one from the airport. That said, the taxi’s in the city are much more affordable than say London or Paris, so it’s not that different/cheaper to use a local service anyway. All this could change soon as the European Court of Justice considers Uber’s case so check online before you travel. In the meantime, they have relaunched in Madrid with Uber X (meaning licensed drivers unlike UberPOP) so it could make its way back to the Catalan capital as well soon.
It was my 5th trip to Barcelona in 10 years, but this one will always stand out as the trip dominated by pickpockets. Three times (that I’m aware of) I was targeted, with three different bags being opened whilst I was out and about. Someone even managed to open the front of my fanny pack and scatter the contents across the ground! That was how I lost my keys. My phone was taken out of my backpack one morning in El Raval as I walked to brunch, and on another occasion, a different backpack was opened at Gràcia Festival. In all my years of travelling, nothing like this had ever happened to me before and it has made me incredibly wary about the security of my belongings now – and mindful of how important travel insurance is! Apparently, Barcelona is pickpocket capital of the world – and spending a day of your holiday at the police station is not much fun. I’m now researching safe and secure backpacks for future trips – I’ll link you here once I’ve blogged about it.
3. The Kylie Pool
On a much less serious note, I didn’t think there were many new places for me to visit in Barcelona. Mount Tibidabo – check. Park Güell – check. Gràcia Festival – check. Montjuïc Castle – check. Tonnes of Gaudí – check, check, check. Even Sitges – check! So when my friend Jono said that the Olympic diving pool where Kylie’s Slow music video was shot is open to the public, I nearly dropped the ground and started floor dancing in excitement!
You can catch the funicular up Montjuïc to it from Paral·lel metro station using your normal Metro card. The Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc is right across the road from the station at the top and entry costs €6.50 currently. The facilities are very basic – don’t go expecting anything showy just because this was an Olympic pool. They’ve done little to the place since 1992 and probably was never intended as a public facility – the changing rooms are just massive concrete rooms and the main pool is one incredibly deep level (which was hilarious/terrifying considering how many small children were throwing themselves in and out of it). The actual diving pool was sectioned off on the day we visited, so just in case you fancied trying out your Tom Daley stylings this probably isn’t the time. However, there is a large amount of tiled space around the main pool which is THE place where Kylie dry humps her towel so you can spend all day reenacting this. There are also a few sun loungers available for hire for €1 each but you will need to put your name down as soon as you arrive to have any chance of getting one.
Once I’d recovered from my Kylie excitement, the real feature of this pool is the view! Just like Mount Tibidabo and Park Güell, Montjuïc has exceptional views of Barcelona. In fact, I think they are best because it is much closer to the city. You could also make a day of it and explore the castle, which is a 15-minute walk further up the (very steep) hill. If you visit in July/August, there is a fantastic outdoor cinema, Sala Montjuïc in the castle grounds in the evenings. Just make sure you take warmer clothes than you would for the pool – is can get surprisingly chilly up there at night!
Barcelona is a bit of a skateboarders mecca. Ever since I started visiting the city with my husband he has spent every trip pointing out much of the city is covered in wear marks from grinding steps, rails, monuments, you name it. There are a number of good skate parks too, including the one by our favourite beach, Mar Bella, plus skater bar Nevermind has a bowl in the bar. So basically, if you have a skateboard, bring it with you.
When I flew to Amsterdam earlier this year with BA, there was a guy on my flight who carried his board, er… on-board. So I figured why not give it a try when we visited Barcelona? I’m not sure what BA’s carry-on policy actually is regarding skateboards, but neither did most of their staff at the airport, so I managed to take it on both flights without any issue. I do have a backpack that you can strap the board to so it didn’t really count as a separate piece of luggage which helped. Either way, just act confident and say you’ve done it before if anyone questions it. Worked for me!
The Dancing Man
This guy was at Mar Bella beach every.single.day of our holiday, dancing his little heart out for hours on end. Apparently, he’d been there the whole week before too. I didn’t actually know it was possible to dance for this long sober! He was so spritely that on Sunday when he packed up to go, the whole beach stood up and applauded. Bless him. He was thoroughly entertaining, mainly because we spent most of our time debating what he was actually dancing to. General consensus: Beyonce. What a champ. I hope he’s still there next time I visit Barcelona!
————————— Check out my full Barcelona map and city guide here!