The alarm clock is going off at some ungodly hour of the morning; it’s the middle of winter, pitch black outside and freezing cold. It takes me a few seconds to stir from my slumber, but when I do, I remember that for once it’s not work I’m being rudely awakened for, but rather a romantic weekend in Barcelona. Suddenly the idea of getting out of bed this early isn’t so bad after all!
Our plane lands in the Spanish city around lunchtime, and having only packed a hand baggage sized case, we stride smugly past the luggage carousels and into a waiting taxi. Twenty minutes later and we’re checking into the Hotel Soho on Gran Via. It’s only the 14th of January, so the effortlessly blue sky and moderate climate comes as a very pleasant surprise.
We hit the streets for a bit of Gaudi inspired culture, warming up with the impressive Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, before reaching the main act of the afternoon: the Sagrada Familia. Stepping inside the stunning cathedral, while the low winter sun hits the stained glass windows, is simply magical. The striking interior is swept with colour and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
We join the queue for the lift, and before we know it we’re soaring skyward into one of the narrow spires. A hazy view of the city awaits us, and despite Tom having a mild panic attack, it is an inspiring way to finish the day.
Back at the hotel, we get ready quickly and take to the rooftop terrace for a glass of Rioja. It is here that the holiday takes an unexpected twist. Out of the blue, and under the starry Spanish sky, Tom gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him! I say yes of course, and so adorned with a sparkly diamond, and grinning from ear to ear, we’re off out to celebrate. For dinner, we choose a restaurant called Noti, where Tom is presented with a plate of vegetables – all very nicely done in fairness – and I have a magnificent piece of fresh fish. A concoction of cava and cocktails follows the food, and we eventually wobble our way back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning.
We awake to a sunny Saturday, and after heading across the street for a tasty breakfast in Escriba, we set off for a stroll along La Ramblas. The picturesque port greets us at the end of the street and we spend time wandering the water’s edge and taking advantage of the many photo opportunities. The narrow streets of El Born are where we stumble upon next, and it’s here we pick up a poster to join our ever expanding print collection and Tom buys himself a blue T-shirt to match the sea.
A trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete without tapas, and we most certainly get our fill of it in the short time we are here. For lunch we find a restaurant in the midst of the market and indulge ourselves in padron peppers, patatas bravas, tomato bread, asparagus, and a mini-hamburger for me. With our batteries fully recharged, we’re back on our feet and exploring more of the city. A late afternoon look around the modern art museum concludes our day and we head back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. Having been rather taken with El Born during the day, we decide to venture back there for dinner and drinks. More tapas, cava and cocktails follow, and we finish the night in a bar called Tripode where Tom can’t get enough of the retro club classics and tasteful interior!
Our third and final day arrives all too quickly, although before we say adios to Barcelona, we take a trip to Park Guell, which is nestled high up in the hills. It’s another Gaudi masterpiece, and as we stroll around the winding pathways, we are greeted to treats at every turn. I especially like the fairy-tale buildings and the ornate mosaic benches that glisten in every colour of the rainbow. We while away a good couple of hours here, enjoying a sweeping view of the city with a spot of coffee, although Tom receives a rather unfortunate present from a parrot at this point. Then, after wandering back, taking in a street-café lunch-stop on route (one giant prawn and some egg and chips), we collect our bags and catch a cab to the airport. And as the plane takes off, and Barcelona shrinks into the distance, I reminisce about a perfect weekend spent with my new fiancé; a weekend that will be fixed firmly in my memory forever and ever!