Pumped up with white chocolate icing, I was ready to do some serious shopping because after all, we were on a city break and if city breaks guarantee one thing, it's shopping. My biggest hit was undoubtedly Zara, just as I had intended for it to be. The ambience of the store was electric and I can surprisingly say that everyone who entered the store was dressed impeccably and for some reason, that was exhilarating to witness. As part of the competition's prize, I was given some play money to add further sparkle to the experience and I knew immediately that I had to get my mitts on the Wool Khaki Duffle Coat With Fur Hood, which I'll be doing an outfit post on sometime in the near future! As you can tell from the photo I instagrammed whilst away, I didn't leave things there by also adding an irresistibly adorable Fur Jacket by Zara to my wardrobe! Prices provided were understandably different at Barcelona's Zara stores than of those in the UK, however I couldn't have anticipated how significantly better they would be, with both of my purchases being 20-35% less expensive than if they were bought in the UK. Thank goodness they squeezed into my suitcase..
I mentioned on Twitter that I had discovered the brand Oysho whilst visiting Barcelona for the first time, but I didn't mention that I had fallen head over heels in love with the store and spent over an hour admiring their latest collection, trying on impossibly soft loungewear pieces and generally soaking up the calming atmosphere the store provided. The music was relaxing, the staff were constantly warm and welcoming and the spectrum of choice was incredible! The pink fluffy Structured Robe seen in the photo to the right has has been placed firmly at the top of my Christmas wish list, however I've also got my eye on the luxurious navy Mini Cashmere Print Pyjama Set that could easily pass as designer. I found one million and one items of nightwear and loungewear that had my heart leaping out of my chest, however I had to draw the line somewhere and opted to purchase a small quantity of lingerie, before immediately jotting down the names of my desired items in preparation for writing up my Christmas wish list! This girl knows what she's doing..
Much more shopping was done whilst walking the entire length of La Rambla, however my attention was captured by the many well presented window displays and eclectic styling choices by both locals and tourists, meaning my camera very rarely emerged from it's case! Having said that, I was a tourist through and through and so therefore the opportunity to take the occasional flower-infused photo didn't go amiss, nor did the chance to pose in front of the Columbus Monument, close to the ocean. It was at that point photo requests began filtering our tourist moment, so we made a quick dash for it before total disappointment had sunk in once they had realised I was indeed not whoever they thought I was!
I wasn't a massive fan of the beach area, for there were many more groups of people there including stag weekends, which isn't surprising considering Barcelona is ranked the seventh best destination with regard to that, however it caused the general atmosphere to become much more rowdy. After finding a quiet bench out of the way to admire the ocean's horizon and rest our feet for a moment, we walked the length of La Rambla through the delicious aroma of churros, stylish stores and beautiful palm trees once more to return to the comfort of our hotel.. although we didn't stay there long. On the last evening of any trip, the last thing you want to do is close your eyes and mind to to the beauties of your surrounding area, so after sprucing up (and wrapping plasters around my feet) we wandered out to locate an idyllic restaurant for our final dinner in Barcelona. We knew that it needed to be refined with a buzzing atmosphere and we were definite on eating like Kings on our final night - and we certainly weren't met with disappointment!
I loved the quirky feature wall consisting of lined up empty wine bottles, it's something I've never before seen and it certainly served as an impressive sight from my seat! Both my mum and I ordered club sandwiches, although due to allergies the crisps were left behind on my plate to fend for themselves (sorry, crisps). By the time we had finished eating, the time was nearly 11pm and so it made perfect sense to make our way to the illuminated fountains near our hotel to see them in all their glory. There is something indescribably magical about glowing water by night and it's something I've always appreciated ever since viewing the shining swimming pool at midnight in a villa we stayed at in the South of France many years ago. I find it hard not to be impressed and perhaps even a little moved.
After a reluctant night's sleep, we awoke to the realisation of our last day in Barcelona looming. We managed to snap ourselves out of it in time to enjoy another muffin and doughnut infused breakfast at the H10 Casanova's breakfast room on the first floor. With a late check-out time for a very reasonable fee, we left our suitcases at reception and headed out to squeeze one last drop out of the city. As we made our way to the famous Casa Batllo, we found many people looking up at one point and to our total surprise, as an advertisement to a rather 'cheeky' show taking place in the area, hilariously (although my mum found it less amusing) we found two ladies' legs stretching out from the top of one of the buildings!
The architecture transforms almost immediately upon entrance of the Gothic Quarter and you find yourself resembling the environment to other places that possess an abundance of history, such as Germany's Rothenburg and at times even the city of Belgium's Bruges. After we had taken a couple of photos outside of the impressive Cathedral located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter (and made the mistake of placing myself next to rather petite people), we made our way inside the awe-inspiring Cathedral that attracted flocks of people by the minute. Note: no shorts allowed!
It just so happened that the day we chose to visit, was the first anniversary of my granddad's death, which although saddening, was also particularly moving as he was a very religious man. Looking up at the high, beautiful ceiling that the Cathedral boasted, I couldn't help but feel as though of all the places to be in the world, this was the perfect place to say a prayer for him.
Biscuit Ball 1 - 0 Gabrielle
After experiencing much of the wonders of the Gothic Quarter and purchasing a small painting there of La Rambla, we walked back to our hotel with a sense of premature melancholy. We were pleased to had such a fantastic time in Barcelona, but this always makes going home that little bit more difficult. Whilst waiting for our transfer we had two hours to kill, during which time we took the lift up to the hotel's eight floor and found a corner seat within their Sky Bar Terrace. The modern, refreshing design was stylish and yet comfortable featuring a Plunge Pool and reclined seating. Let's face it, if you're going to end an unforgettable trip, let it be like this..