My First Solo Trip to Spain: What to Do in Madrid, Where to Visit in Barcelona
During the 25 years of my life, I’ve learned one thing for sure. It’s “If it’s meant to be, it will be… If it’s not, it won’t… and no matter how much effort you put into it.” So, it was meant to be…
Everything started with my love of football. I didn’t miss any match of my favorite club — FC Barcelona. Carving my FCB nickname on a tree was a way of expressing my love for this club.
I remember how badly I wanted to visit Camp Nou stadium. So I decided to learn Spanish. It made me one step closer to my dream — Barcelona. And you know? Dreams are meant to come true.
At the beginning of every year, I create a plan list. Visiting Barcelona was one of my must-dos in 2022. At first, it was a dream far away, but then I started checking on the tickets. I was planning to travel with a friend, but then it was found out that I’m alone and... Damn… For a few days, I thought it was over, but one day my inner voice said: “Do it”. You don’t need to depend on others’ schedules as in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.
So, I bought the tickets. And the craziest thing about this was that I didn’t have a visa to enter the Schengen area and never had before. Somehow scary and full of risks, yeah? But you remember what I believe in: “what is meant to be, will be”. I send my dreams to space and they come true. I prepared all the documentation, applied, and got a visa. And here I’m.
I fly to Madrid, then go to Barcelona. Now it’s time to plan my trip. This was one of the most exciting processes of this trip. I listed all the places I wanted to visit: tourist attractions, architectural monuments, museums, parks, etc. I researched and found some good places to eat the most delicious Spanish food.
I bought some tickets online in advance to avoid the lines. Seems that everything is planned and organized. The suitcase is packed. Take me to my dreams, airplane! A few hours and, Bienvenido a España!
How to Spend 2 Days in Madrid
My first stop is Madrid — the capital I was meant to be in love with. If you ask me to describe Madrid in 3 words, I’ll tell you about aesthetics, rooftops, and life… This is the city of the people who enjoy the moment. And so did I. For me Madrid starts with the Royal Palace — El Palacio Real de Madrid.
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To say that its architecture is wonderful is to say nothing. It was astonishing and powerful. However, if you aren’t fond of luxurious places full of ornaments and similar items, you won’t like the inside so much, as I didn’t. However, the royal armory and kitchen are magnificent and this palace is worth visiting thanks to its impressive architecture, aesthetic views, and elegance.
The Catedral de la Almudena in front of the palace is another masterpiece of architecture that adds a great influence to the face of Madrid.
Enjoy the Sunset in Madrid
The next must-do is to enjoy the Madrid sunset on one of those many rooftops. And if you are lucky enough to choose one with an astonishing view of the city then this evening will forever remain in your memory as the best experience in your life. The rooftop I happened to enjoy was Doña Luz with a great view towards el Puerta del Sol.
It was a perfect evening to celebrate my first day in Madrid and say cheers to my dreams coming true. The cactus in the corner, the last races of the sun, the kind girl who suggested taking a photo and saving the moment, and the waiter with his loud voice and humorous comments; at that moment I realized I’m going to keep every small detail in my mind forever. Don’t miss this sunset. Then wander around the streets of Madrid and get the most out of its life. Tired but full of positive emotions I went to the hotel, looking forward to the sunrise and the sweetest Madridian morning.
Sweet Morning in Madrid; Where to Eat Churros
Of course, my first Madridian morning started with the most delicious churros in the Chocolateria San Gines. Its flavor is still in my mouth and you just need to try as no words can describe it. I tried churros in Barcelona later, but I felt like I wanted the churros in Chocolateria San Gines.
Where to Visit in Madrid
Continue walking around and you will arrive at the Plaza Mayor to have a cup of cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and enjoy life as the Spanish do on a calm morning in this wonderful square. What else may make a perfect morning in Madrid?
This day is also going to be a day of walking a lot. Just make sure you are “here and now” to feel and live the moment. Don’t miss wearing the most comfortable shoes to wander around the capital: from Puerta del Sol to Atocha train station, from Gran Via to Palacio de las Cortes, from Temple of Debod to Plaza de Cibeles, and from Puerta de Alcalá to the Retiro Park to have a picnic near the lake and take the pleasure of the Crystal Palace.
And in the evening, I’m again near the Royal Palace, Sabatini Gardens in Madrid to get the most out of my great day in the Spanish capital.
Madrid through My Eyes
I’m in love with Madrid. It’s all about people, places, and moments I honestly enjoyed. For me, Madrid is serious but caring like a father. If this city was a season, it would be autumn, if it was a part of the day, it would be sunset, if it was food, it would be churros. Plaza de Cibeles became the diamond in Madrid architecture, Palacio Real is the face of Madrid, and Palacio de Cristal is the soul of the capital. A little sad and full of emotions, I left Madrid. Thank you for the greatest memories!
What to Do in Barcelona
A few hours and my train arrives in Barcelona — the destination of my dreams. After Madrid, I thought I just have to love Barcelona more but arriving there I understand that there isn’t even a second option.
Barcelona is Gaudí’s: Don’t Miss Sagrada Família
For me, Barcelona is Gaudí’s. Just wander around and you will appear in front of his masterpieces. Of course, Basílica de la Sagrada Família is the pearl not only of Gaudí’s works but also of the city in general. Having lunch with the view towards Sagrada became one of my best moments to remember forever.
And when I went into the basilic, I felt like I’m in a living organism. As for Gaudí, Sagrada is a forest, and if you look up, you’ll imagine how. Every detail is impressive here and taken from nature. As Gaudí said,
“In Sagrada Família, everything is providential”.
The architecture, the colors, the reflection, the shades, you just need to feel the moment.
Visit Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is another impressive building by Antoni Gaudí. The walls, the doors, and windows, the staircase, the patio, and the rooftop; everything is special here. This is the place where you understand that sometimes happiness is a matter of imagination.
Everything is out of standard here, yet in contrast and with logic. Don’t miss your chance to experience the unforgettable feeling inside this building.
Wander around to See More of Gaudí: Casa Milà, Park Güell
If you walk for a few minutes, you’ll appear in front of Casa Milà — another work of Gaudí.
However, I didn’t enter this one and left it for my next visit to Barcelona. But I couldn’t miss the view from Park Güell. The park itself and the view of the city are very attractive. Here I noticed one thing, I not only appreciate the beautiful look and facade of Gaudí’s masterpieces but also how the aesthetic view is combined with the architectural standards and rules.
What was in the mind of the master when creating such wonders?
And of course, everything comes from nature.
“Nothing is invented, for it’s written in nature first. And, nothing is art if it does not come from nature.”, the words of Antoni Gaudí.
The Views of Barcelona
The view of the city from Park Güell is beautiful, but if you can go higher and arrive at Tibidabo, you’ll feel what a significant view means. This is the point where you can see the whole city from a great height. I’m so happy I didn’t miss it.
And if you want to see the city from the opposite side, here is Montjuïc for you. There are also magic fountains here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it as there were closed because of the season. In any case, I enjoyed the panoramic view.
Here the city seems so close, but still, the whole of Barcelona is in the background.
Camp Nou: Feel Your Barça Experience
I cannot but talk about Camp Nou — the stadium of my dream football club — Barça — “Més Que un Club”. This is a Catalan expression that means “more than a club”.
I can’t express my emotions in the stadium, where dreams come true, and the museum where you can see all the won cups, uniforms of different periods, and other symbolic items of the team, matches, and victories. I was excited when watching some moments of my favorite matches, the team’s achievements, and so on. My Barça experience was great but I would like to have been there 10 years ago when I was a real fan of the club who didn’t miss any matches and dreamed about supporting the team from the stadium. I’m sure the emotions would be epic.
Charming Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)
Another day of mine was for the Gothic Quarter. It’s called so as this part of the city used to be a Roman village. I was fond of the narrow streets full of architecture and liked getting lost on purpose in this cozy old neighborhood.
Here you will see the Cathedral of Barcelona — a great example of architecture but I was disappointed to see an advertising banner on the top of the cathedral.
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Just walk around and you’ll appear in front of the Ponte del Bisbe. Other cathedrals that are surely worth visiting in the Gothic Quarter are Santa Maria del Mar and Santa Maria del Pie: less known but not less significant pieces of Spanish architecture. And of course, if you are fond of art, here is the Museum of Picasso for you. However, if you want to see the world-famous masterpieces of Picasso, this isn’t a suitable museum and you should look for Picasso museums in other cities around the globe. Yet, you’ll get familiar with the life and creative activity of the painter.
Feel the Spanish Soul in Poble Espanyol
And if you are interested in learning much about different parts of Spain in general, in Barcelona there is such a place called Poble Espanyol. Here you’ll see the combination of architecture and culture coming from different states of the country.
Every building has a unique design and structure typical of the territory it symbolizes. Visit this place if you want to go deeper into the Spanish soul but you don’t have enough time to travel around the country.
Barcelona through My Eyes
And in the end, I’m full of emotions and feelings. I’m excited and at the same time a little sad. I want to go far, to see more, to feel deeper… From the two cities, I go for Barcelona. I love Barcelona from Montjuïc to Tibidabo and from Tibidabo to Barceloneta. I enjoyed the city views from every angle and want to tell you that Barcelona is wonderful. I’m going to come back…
To Sum Up My Trip
To say I’m glad with my trip is to say nothing. This was a great experience for me and a big lesson. I found a new and a stronger me and learned how capable I’m. Traveling alone is not easy, and it’s neither as great as in social media. Sometimes you’ll be sad and feel alone, sometimes you’ll be happy but there won’t be anyone to share your emotions with. Traveling alone is hard but it’s a great way to evoke the potential hidden inside yourself. It’s neither about the pictures on Instagram nor proving anything to the world. It’s all about rediscovering yourself.