What do you get when you schedule tours of Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, and the Picasso Museum all in one day, while running on 4 hours of sleep?
This isn’t a setup for a bad joke (or maybe it is, depending on how you look at it). This is how my dear friend Christine and I spent our last full day in Barcelona, all while trying to make our 7pm dinner reservations at the end of the day. No bueno.
By the way, this story comes from one stop during a nearly 2-week trip that Christine and I planned together, while we both were studying in London. We had a few other mishaps along the way, so don’t think that this is the last time you’ll be hearing about this particular trip!
Our chaos really began the night before…so let’s start there for a minute: After settling into our hostel following a long train ride from Nice and some casual exploring of the local area, we began to wonder what we wanted to do that night. We knew that the hostel offered a guided bar crawl, and we were considering it…but also knew that sleep was highly necessary to tackle the next day. We were very close to choosing sleep.
Introducing: The Catalyst. A stag party (British version of a bachelor party) checked into the hostel that night, fully intending to get zero sleep. They rallied all of us who were on the fence about going on the bar crawl, and – long story short – we all went to quite a few places, for quite a few hours. I’d love to get into more details but it’s not the main story here, so just take away these two tidbits to get an idea of how the night was:
1. The “stag” had makeshift antlers that his friends made out of who-knows-what materials, which he wore the entire night.
2. We all ended up at a bar called Butyklan. Yes, you read that correctly, and it’s likely very innocent in Catalan. But just for fun, let’s be immature and sound it out in our English-speaking minds. Yup.
Now, onto our poor planning which made this late night such a bad idea the next day. What was our agenda for that last full day in Barcelona? Three different sights to see, all of which required a reserved time slot. So, (going off of memory here) our itinerary consisted of Park Güell at 10am, Picasso Museum at 1pm, Sagrada Familia at 5pm. Oh, and then a flamenco dinner show at 7pm because sure, why not!
Our feet were not happy that day.
It’s worth noting, and keeping in mind, that all of these places were in different areas of the city from each other. Not ONE was in walking distance to another. And, on our first stop of the day (Park Güell), we inadvertently climbed up a huge hill to get to the park, and tired ourselves out right from the get-go. Turns out we went to the wrong end of the park, so that was our fault…but, still. We made our reservation with just minutes to spare. You could say we were off to a great start…you’d be wrong, but you could say it.
So besides all of the walking that we had in store simply by exploring these attractions, we also had to book it through various metro stations to catch trains in order to get to the next place, back-to-back-to-back! Factor this in with a cloudless, hot day, and we were miserable in between each place – though ecstatic once we arrived. In retrospect, we definitely should have hit the beach that day…oh well. Hindsight is 20/20, joke’s on us, etc.
While running through these metro stations – not exaggerating, we actually did run at some points out of desperation – we also had to make sure we were getting the correct connecting trains. And, all of our destinations had more than one train to hop on. Because, of course, it’s not as fun if the route is simple and straightforward! Luckily, we were paying (mostly) close attention to each metro line and the corresponding stops, so we were able to make it to La Sagrada Familia on time after the park. However, we did get off one stop too early on our way to the museum, and had to – you guessed it – run to our final destination. Who knew we were in for a day of so much cardio?
The nice part about having such a hectic day was that it made us enjoy the dinner show so much more. The food was lovely, the ambience was relaxing, the sangria was refreshing, and the flamenco dancers were very talented. One of them even invited a brave member of the audience to come up onstage and try out the routine…I bet you can guess who accepted the offer!
Overall, despite having to run around Barcelona on minimal energy in order to see some of the most popular places, I’d honestly do it all over again! There’s no bonding experience quite like racing against the clock in a foreign city on the last day that you’re able to see what it has to offer. And, luckily, we actually spaced out our visits enough that we did get to enjoy each attraction – just in a slightly expedited way.
As I said, this is just one anecdote from my travels while overseas (and from this particular 2-week trip). However, take our experience as a caution of how not to explore a foreign city – unless, of course, you like to live on the edge. Then by all means, do exactly what we did.
What has been your craziest travel experience? Share it in the comments!