Travellers Pam And Bill Seney Share
All There Was To See In One of
Europe’s Most Visited Countries
Story by Alley L. Biniarz
Photography Pam and Bill Seney
The busy bustle of Barcelona was no match for the Seney’s trusted planning skills and spreadsheet abilities. Knowing they only had three days to take in all of what the popular city had to offer, Pam and Bill got to work planning this trip to one of Europe’s most visited countries.
“We knew there would be a lot to see and we actually just hit the ground running,” Pam says excitedly. “We had previously arranged for a taxi driver to be there waiting so when we arrived in the morning, the tour guide was already waiting. We got in the car and with suitcases still in the trunk, we went sight-seeing from there.”
Pam and Bill handed their spreadsheet over to their driver and jumped right into travelling mode. They wanted to see as much of Barcelona as they could on that first day so they could decide where they wanted to return to the next day.
On that first day, they made a point of visiting the famous La Sagrada Familia structure which is not a sight to be missed. “The amount of detail is just incredible,” Bill says, having marveled at the architecture. “We didn’t get a chance to go inside, but even just the outside took forever to walk around to take in all the details. The pictures don’t do it justice.”
La Sagrada Familia, or the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, has been under construction for over 135 years, with the last remaining work being the six massive central spires and structure which is set to take place in 2026. When finished, it will be one of the tallest (if not largest) churches in the world. Its architect, Antoni Gaudi, is known for his incredible artistic influence around all of Barcelona, but most famously for this church. The Gothic architecture mixed with natural elements along with its turbulent and fascinating history make it the unique attraction that it is.
From there, Pam and Bill got back into their taxi and continued their excursion around Barcelona before taking a cable car ride to Montjuïc Hill. Here they enjoyed the view of the entire city as well as the Castell de Montjuïc, a large 17th century fortress. This 1450-metre-long aerial tramway connects Montjuïc Hill and Barceloneta beach and takes you all across the harbour and waterfront.
The day was still young after that and so the two continued on to see the Arc de Triomphe, drove around the Gothic Quarter, went down to the Barceloneta beach, and took in more Gaudi architecture — which is hard to miss anywhere you go in Barcelona — by visiting Casa Batllo. “Our taxi driver basically covered most of the city,” Pam shares. “It was better than a tour guide where you get an hour history lesson that you could have found on the internet. This way, we got a good look at everything and could investigate on our own from there.”
Since they got a sneak peak of the city on day one, on day two they were able to narrow down their list. Consulting their trusted spreadsheet, Pam and Bill made their way to the popular tourist strip, La Rambla. “Everyone is on the street and it’s hard to believe that so many people come out,” Bill says about the 1.2 kilometre road. It’s an exceptional place to wander down; the street ends at two key places, one being the beach and the other being the Placa de Catalunya or Catalunya square. Here, visitors can catch street performers, visit local cafes, and enjoy all of the delicious food Barcelona has to offer.
While wandering La Rambla, the two ended up at another spot on their list: La Boqueria Market. The first mention of a market being there dates back to 1217, making it a monumental part of local history. “You could spend an entire day here,” Pam says. “Had we known how spectacular it was the first day, we would have eaten all of our meals here!” Bill adds. They say you could find anything you wanted from exotic meats, fruits, fresh eggs, everything. The market has a range of food stalls and restaurants selling all of the famous Spanish eats like paella and tapas. Catalan cuisine is the result of thousands of years of experimentation, making Barcelona known for its decadent foods consisting of plates of rice, eggplant, spinach and citrus fruit. Tapas (or appetizers) are a great way to try small samples of everything the region has to offer.
The Seney’s days were full-on and they didn’t stop until they wound up back at their hotel. Even then, their hotel (H10) had an immaculate rooftop restaurant and bar where the two would enjoy a few drinks and take in the views.
By the third day, the couple did another tour on their own and enjoyed a cruise along the waterfront. This three-hour cruise took them down one way and back another and was a nice, relaxing catamaran ride to counter the previous days’ walking. Pam and Bill say that a highlight was that no matter where they were in the city, they got a beautiful view of La Sagrada Familia and it was just breathtaking.
“If we had three or four more days we would go back and try more restaurants and do the third cable car up to Tibadabo,” Pam says. “Otherwise, on a whole, we really enjoyed Barcelona and felt comfortable. English was spoken everywhere and we didn’t have to use our very poor Spanish,” they both laugh. Many people might hear that Barcelona is known for pickpockets, and although this can be true, Pam and Bill say they kept their wits about them and felt incredibly safe, even in hot tourist spots.
“The city is considered a beach city so if a person likes the waterfront, boating, sailing, or anything water related, it’s an excellent one to visit,” Bill explains. “It’s right up there with some of the best cities we’ve been to. It’s a world class city.” For those who spend longer in Barcelona, Pam and Bill recommend the “hop on, hop off” bus system, which takes you all across the city. Although they didn’t do it, they said it seems very well run.
The travellers say that this was a city they didn’t mind getting lost in. If people don’t mind the walk, Barcelona is easily a city where someone could wander around the Gothic Quarter, get close and personal with the architecture, stroll down the beach, and just take in all of the magnificent history (and food) that Barcelona’s streets have in store.