After nearly a month and a half on the road, it became clear that K and I were starting to tire. We’d been staying in a range of cheap Airbnb apartments – some better than others, but they were generally smaller, older, and dirtier than what we’re normally comfortable with. While they were fantastic in terms of allowing us to save money by cooking in, they didn’t offer the most comfort or luxury.
That’s why when we arrived in Valencia from Granada and checked into our hotel (Hotel Kramer), we decided to not even bother going out into the city. When you have a hotel room for one night, and the luxury of a large soft bed with clean white sheets, a large flat-screen TV and a clean luxurious bathroom with a rainfall shower, a night in relative comfort and luxury was all we wanted! So while we didn’t see the town of Valencia at all, I can highly recommend the luxuries of the Hotel Kramer, located a little bit out of the centre of town.
I can recommend the hotel restaurant (Kram Bar) for a tasty cheap meal though. It’s not a fancy restaurant, and is more like a modern pub with a selection of burgers, bagels and steaks, with sporting games showing on the various flat screen TVs (we saw Australia win their Rugby World Cup semi-final!). K had a burger (juicy meat patty with a runny egg yolk), and I had some grilled chicken and vegetables. Simple, filling, and less than 20 Euro for both of us with drinks.
After a night of hotel luxury, we drove onto Barcelona for a stay of a few days. Unfortunately as I’ve already previously mentioned, K was struck down with a flu and we didn’t get out as much as we would have liked. Instead we spent our first full day in our Airbnb apartment, K wrapped up in a blanket to sweat it out and watching cartoons on TV. On all the other days we were in Barcelona, we only ventured out in the afternoons for lunch and a little bit of sightseeing – mornings were spent with K having a sleep-in to try and give his battered immune system time to recuperate.
Still, illness didn’t spoil our trip too much. We had two really good meals at Jai-Ca and at Elche, and some good random snacks along the way, including a delicious sweet fresh fig pastry from the award-winning bakery Baluard. Most of the time though, I tried to feed K with food designed to improve his immune system – lots of orange juice naturally, some hearty soups, salads, etc. Thanks to our local supermarket for being extremely well-stocked!
We spent a full afternoon at the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral, brainchild of the eccentric visionary architect Antoni Gaudi. A hundred years after it was first conceived, builders are still working to complete the extravagant building. It’s well worth a visit if ever you’re in Barcelona – and make sure to pay for the audioguide and visits up the towers as well, as both are very comprehensive and really allow you to experience key aspects of this innovative building. I was a particular fan of interplay of light and colour in the building, a result of Gaudi’s careful consideration of how stained glass windows should be used to create a spiritual experience.
Other afternoons, we just spent time walking around the streets of Barcelona…which seem to largely be inhabited by English tourists, chasing the Iberian sun. Speaking of chasing the sun, I was surprised by Barcelona’s beaches. I’ve always heard a lot of positive things about how beautiful the beaches are, but they were a little lacklustre to my eyes. The beach itself isn’t particularly large, with barely 50 metres from the start of the beach to the water’s edge. It also wasn’t the clean, white sand that we get in Australia, and looked a bit dirty. Still, it’s probably still the best beach most English tourists will see unless they decide to come to Australia for a visit!
Overall, given that we were hermits in both Valencia and Barcelona, I feel that we didn’t give either city the amount of love and attention they probably deserved. Barcelona is worth another visit to explore other areas we didn’t get around to visit – perhaps we’ll come back when the Sagrada Familia has finally been completed and we can see it in all its glory?