Travel Inspo – Barcelona

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Barcelona is the kind of place you will struggle to see everything in one go, there is so much to do and see! If you are planning a weekend break like me the best advice I can give is be organised. Pick what you really want to see so you don’t try to cram too much in and end up needing a holiday to recover from your holiday! To avoid being exhausted on my trip I had the perfect balance between sight seeing and relaxing by choosing a hotel with a roof top pool. I stayed in the Hotel Jazz which I would highly recommend both for the hotel it self and its location.

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Sight Seeing 

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The whole of Barcelona is one big art gallery thanks to the very famous Antoni Gaudi and the amazing views. The big Gaudi sights are something everyone wants to see these are:

All of these are magnificent from the outside but if you want to see the inside I would recommend booking tickets online at least one day prior to your visit. Not only is this cheaper, if you don’t pre book a time slot you may risk the whole day being sold out and your journey to the destination wasted!

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The park in particular is a long way from the centre of Barcelona so getting there and not being able to see the famous sights could be frustrating even though you can wander the beautiful park. Personally I would recommend the Parc Guell and La Pedera, Casa Batllo and La Sagrada are much more impressive on the outside than the inside and in my opinion the price and the queue isn’t worth it unless you plan on going up one of the famous La Sagrada towers.

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Other amazing sights are Montjuic and the magic fountains, this impressive palace is now a art gallery which is completely free and worth a visit to escape from the city heat. This area is close to the old Olympic Village and the Las Arenas shopping centre which is an old bull fighting ring converted into a shopping centre and viewing platform for amazing views of the city.

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The Montjuic Fountains become their own attraction at night known as the magic fountains, the timings for shows this summer are as below:-

06 January – 16 February: Closed
01 April – 31 May: Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 21:00 – 22:00
01 June – 30 August: Wednesday – Sunday: 21:30 – 22:30
01 September – 31 October: Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 21:00 – 22:00
01 November – 31 March: Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 20:00 – 21:00

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Another great thing to see is the impressive cathedral which is also a main attraction of Barcelona, the cathedral is in a large square with buskers and an antiques market.

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Food and Drink 

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As Barcelona is a vibrant city there are so many options for food and drinks. There is of course tapas options every where but some are definitely better than others. The main area’s to eat and drink are Las Ramblas, Plaza Real and the Marina. Las Ramblas is always really busy and the best spots are just off the main streets, you can find a location that works for you, from quiet intimate squares, hidden gems on side streets to the big bussing Plaza Real, there is something for everyone. These are my top recommendations in Barcelona:-

 

Las Ramblas Tapas – Bar Lobo

Marina Tapas – Restaurante Hispano Barcelona

Fine Dining – Arola Restaurant

Plaza Real Tapas – Les Quinze Nits – The Tapas here was amazing but the main meals were a let down, if you visit here be prepared for delicious but small plates.

Plaza Real Italians – Restaurante Italiano Rossini

 

 

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Must Do 

Other than the main sights listed above there are some things you cannot miss when in this amazing city. These little extra’s might just make your trip.

Cocktails at the W

The W hotel is the best location for sunset cocktails, with views of the city and the beach the W makes for a memorable night and amazing pictures. The cocktails and the food are also great, it’s the perfect place to start your evening.

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Salsa in the Old Town

Barcelona’s Old Town comes alive at night with cocktails and music, it’s the best place to let your hair down. I headed to a local Salsa club with no idea what to expect, we headed to Bendita Salsa which was a small bar with a live band. The local’s and the band were amazing, helping to teach novice’s like me but were also amazing to watch when they found a partner that would keep up. I would recommend experiencing this amazing night to anyone!!!

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Sant Joan

 

 

Although I didn’t know this festival was taking place during my stay in Barcelona I am so pleased i got to see it. The whole city is taken over by this festival at night with fireworks filling the sky! The streets are very busy with people are setting fire works off everywhere and the next day is a national holiday with all shops and some restaurants closed so if you are visiting during the next Sant Joan festival bear that in mind. The whole city is one big party, locals dress as devils and run round squares and the beach with fire crackers and DJ’s play late into the night. This festival was a great bonus to my trip.

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Love Lottie xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Original Ice Hotel

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Every year Ice Hotels around the world are build then melt, but the Swedish were the first ones to create this palace made of snow. In the most northern town in Swede, Kiruna the first ice Hotel was built, offering customers the chance to sleep in beautifully created bedrooms made completely of ice and snow. This has sparked off a number of countries following suit including Iceland and Canada as well as Ice Bar’s popping up in a number of big cities. I visited the original in Sweden via Discover the World  to see whether it really was “Bucket List” worthy.

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Getting there 

Discover the World are the only company to offer i direct from the UK to England, their #IceFlight is the most cost effective and easiest way to get to Kiruna, they also take take for booking your accommodation and excursions. The Hotel is only around 15 minutes via coach from the Airport but because I wanted to cram in as much as possible I booked for a dog sled to take us to the Hotel. Opting for this was a great way to fit the Dog’s in but was a harsh way to get used to the cold! Although i don’t think I could have done all of the activities we did with out taking the Dog Sled ride so early I think if i were to go back i would have rather opted for a dog sled during the day also, to make the most of the scenery.

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The Hotel

The Hotel is a masterpiece in its self, every ice filled corridor is magnificent, the bar is a destination in its own right and a each Art Suit is its own individual piece of ice crafted art. The rooms are all open during the day for you to look in and take photos and the Ice Bar opens from 12 pm until 1 am.

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Sleeping 

The whole point of the Ice Hotel is to sleep in one of their Cold Rooms and yes they are really that cold, our cold room night was around -8! There are a wide range of rooms in the thanks to the new Ice Hotel 365 as well as the original Ice Hotel 27. The Ice Hotel 365 is a new concept and allows the Bar and some Cold Rooms to be available all year round and the 27 is the original which will still melt and be re built every year.

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There are different rooms depending on your budget, although each room is special an Art Suite will definitely make your stay a little more memorable. If you really are worried about the cold there are Deluxe Art Suites which have a private warm area with a toilet and shower attached to the room. Although I didn’t opt for a Deluxe Art Suite I was extremely lucky and scored “Dreamscape” an ice bed at the top of a magnificent staircase which was worth having a shared (sex separated) toilet and shower.

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The best way to make sure you get the most out of your Cold Room is to plan a to keep warm a couple of hours before going in, this could be going for a meal in a restaurant or visiting the warm bar. To sleep i wore thermal trousers, long sleeved top, thin gloves, ski socks and a hat, although I wasn’t cold and slept fine, I wish I had put a thicker jumper on.

Eating 

The food at the Ice Hotel is amazing, each day there is a full breakfast buffet and in the evening there is a choice of the Ice Restaurant and the Old Homestead which is around a 10 minute walk away from the Hotel. Most excursions include food also, usually served round a fire or in a small cabin.

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We experienced the Chef’s table on our first night which is an 8 course tasting menu served in the kitchen. The menu included all the Arctic favourites such as Elk, Reindeer and Arctic Char as well as a trio of the most delicious deserts. It was quite strange at first but the staff were so lovely I soon felt relaxed and it was great to see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen while you ate.

Things To Do 

The excursion list is huge but you can do as little or as much as you like. When booking your excursions make sure you look at the start and finish times, whether food is served and consider the cold. Discover the World can help you pick excursions but they wont know how much you can stand the cold. Its best to make sure you have time to warm up between excursions and over dress for excursions. Having a back pack with an extra balaclava, dry gloves and an extra layer will never be a bad decision.

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I did the Dog Sled, Wilderness Survival, Snow Mobile Northern Lights Tour, Cross Country Skiing and Sauna Ritual. If i could have I would have also either gone on the Horseback Moose Safari or went to see the Remainders but I couldn’t have fit one more thing in!

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The best excursion was the Snow Mobile Tour, although we didn’t see the Northern Lights it was definitely the most fun. I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights while at the Hotel, if you are looking to photograph the lights and don’t have a professional camera, download the Norther Lights Photo Taker before going.

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The Ice Hotel is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had to date and worth every penny. If it isn’t already on your Bucket List it needs to be!

Love Lottie xx

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