Hermosa Barcelona

When I travelled to Europe, Barcelona was the most beautiful surprise. I knew the least about Barcelona out of all the cities I was visiting, but it soon became one of my favourites. The beaches, the buildings, the parks and the food!! Everything was beyond anything I could have imagined.

What You Should Know About Barcelona

Barcelona is filled with amazing and friendly people, but just like many other big cities, pickpocketing is an issue here. When travelling, I always bring a fanny pack with me to keep my wallet and other important things in. Fanny packs are great because they can go on your front so that you are always able to see them & if you have one thin enough you can tuck it under your shirt or sweater so that it can’t be seen by anyone else. You shouldn’t walk the streets feeling scared or on edge, but when you’re somewhere unfamiliar you should always be aware and prepared. I recommend getting one that’s compact but will still fit all of your essentials.

MoKo RFID Travel Belt

MoKo RFID Travel Belt

Getting around Barcelona is quite easy. The metro is convenient and affordable (2.20 euro for a single ride), especially if you buy a pass (10.20 euro for 10 rides). The metro can get you pretty much anywhere and everywhere in the city. When I went to Barcelona, I walked everywhere. Walking or biking is – in my opinion – the best option while you’re here, as there’s so much to see and the weather is almost always perfect.  

In Barcelona, people speak Catalan and Spanish. It’s always appreciated by the people who live there if you try to learn a few words or phrases in their language before you go or while you are there. Do your best, but don’t worry, English is also widely known and understood in Barcelona.

There is so much good food in Barcelona. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something you’ve never had before. There are so many amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurants that you’ll come across while walking through the streets. Try them!

 

What to Do and See in Barcelona

BEACHES!!! Go to any and all beaches that you can while you’re in Barcelona. They’re beautiful, warm, and filled with cool art and vendors. There’s always so much entertainment and activity going on around the beaches, making everyone’s experience unique. When I was there, I stood and watched as bubbles floated all around me & children jumped around trying to pop every last one. There’s something about bubbles and watching kids play with them, that makes you feel like a kid again too.

Parc de la Ciutadella was one of the most beautiful places I went while in Barcelona. Gold statues, fountains and palm trees. It felt like a different world. I think that’s why I loved Barcelona so much – it was unlike anywhere I had ever been before. Spend time walking through this park and you’ll see so much beauty. You’ll feel like royalty while you are here.

Park Güell is filled with beauty and excitement. The long hike up the hill to get there is definitely worth it. Wander the paths and the stairs throughout this beautiful park to see some of the most unique and interesting architecture in the city. Stop and listen to musicians as they fill the park with beautiful Spanish music. Park Güell has one of the best spots to stand and overlook the city. You’ll be able to see for miles & you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.

Make seeing the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc one of your top priorities while you’re in Barcelona. Watch as the community and visitors come together to see the magical light show in the fountain. Feel yourself become mesmerized by the ever-changing colours and lights as they dance to the music. Seeing this show is absolutely free, which makes it even better!

Make time to explore the Ciutat Vello – the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. I recommend doing a Sandemans walking tour through this historically rich and beautiful area of Barcelona. There is so much to learn and see while you’re there, including some of the most detailed and inspiring architecture and art installations.

While you're in the Gothic Quarter, make sure you wander down Las Ramblas. It is a pedestrian street, lined with trees that stretches 1.2 kilometres. Filled with cafes, restaurants and souvenir vendors, you’ll be sure to find something you love while walking through.

Catalonia Square is a large city square, marking the centre of the city. From this point you can access some of the cities biggest and most important streets. If you’re lucky, and event may be held in the square while you are there. I was lucky enough to be there for Fiesta Nacional de España – National Day of Spain. People filled the square and lines the streets wearing red and yellow with flags on their backs like capes. Music filled the streets, parades marched through and people gathered around to watch dancing and live entertainment. It was a beautiful and exciting day to be in the city.

Sagrada Familia is a beautiful, unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi. It’s massive, beautiful and full of character. If you don’t have the time to go in, just seeing it from the outside is amazing.

Down every street and around every corner, you will find something beautiful and interesting to see or do in Barcelona. Take your time, soak it all in and remember these moments.

Once you go, you’ll never want to leave.

-K

Paris Essentials

Whenever you travel, it’s always a good idea to have a rough itinerary for all the things you want to do and see while you’re away. Whether you’re in Paris for awhile or just a few days, these are my top recommendations for a perfect Paris getaway.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is probably the most obvious attraction in Paris, but for good reason. The structure itself is beautiful, but all around it is equally as amazing. The streets are lined with carousels, lights and vendors that really make you feel as though you are somewhere special. I recommend coming here in the evening, just as the sun is setting. You can have a picnic in the park overlooking the tower, or you can enjoy the view from the Trocadero Steps. Stick around ‘til it gets dark and watch as the Eiffel Tower lights up and begins to sparkle, spreading a feeling of magic over everyone around.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most popular and iconic architectural structures in Paris. It is covered in the names of those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Usually surrounded by tourists and traffic (as it is a HUGE round-a-bout), the best time to go here is probably early in the morning or later at night. If you have the time, venture up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a view of the city. Full price to go up is 12 euros.

Champs-Élysées

If you love shopping and cute café’s, then you’ll definitely want to wander down the Champs-Élysées. Enjoy browsing massive stores and the smell of noisette as you walk one of the most iconic avenues in the world. It runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, which is where you will find the Arc de Triomphe.

Musée du Louvre

If you are a lover of art or architecture, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to go to Musée du Louvre, or The Louvre. It is the central landmark of the city, and it is where you can find the Mona Lisa. Admission to the Louvre is 15 euros for adults. If you don’t have the time to go inside, there is still plenty to look at outside including the famous glass pyramids. These were possibly one of my favourite things in Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

After spending time at the Louvre, take a 15-minute walk along the canal and you’ll reach the site of Notre Dame Cathedral. On April 15th, 2019 the cathedral went up in flames. By the time the fire was put out, the spire and most of the roof had collapsed and been destroyed. Plans to restore the cathedral are underway but could require twenty years or more to complete.

Notre Dame Cathredal, October 2018

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Attention all music fans and lovers of the Doors. Jim Morrison was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. When you arrive there, you will see a large map which clearly indicates where his grave is. It is lovely to see the flowers and memorial pieces that have been placed around his grave. The cemetery itself is also very beautiful, with statues and plant life decorating the grounds.

*I also recommend doing a free walking tour while in Paris (or anywhere for that matter), as you will learn so much of the cities rich history and receive insider tips from the guide. I recommend doing walking tours with Sandemans. I have had great experiences with their guides and have received so much valuable information that I would otherwise have gone without. When the tour is over, it’s always nice to give your tour guide a tip, as they are doing this job on a volunteer basis (your tips are their main income!)

Where to stay:

St Christopher’s Inn – Hostel in the Paris Canal

This hostel was beautiful, clean affordable and right along the canal. It had a delicious and affordable restaurant and bar downstairs which was a great place to meet other travelers and hear their stories.

Getting Around:

Metro!! Using transit in Paris is quite straight forward. I recommend getting the metro day pass which is 7.50 at the station. This way you can hop on and off as much as you please throughout the day, without having to pay each time.

Walking :) When you’re going to places close by & there’s good weather, walking is always the best option! You’ll see and experience so much more of the city and it’s culture just by wandering through the streets.

Paris is known as the city of love and lights. After being there, this saying means something much different to me. I used to think of it in a very literal sense, but now I think of it as what Paris fills you with, how it makes you feel and how it leaves you. You’ll fall in love with the history, with the architecture and art, with the food, with the parks. It will leave you feeling full of love. Paris will wake you up like the morning light. It will make you feel alive through it’s busy streets. It will fill you with magic as the twinkling lights overwhelm the night. Paris will fill you with love and light. It will leave you warm and glowing.

I hope you get the chance to go!

Safe travels

-K

Preparing for a Flight

Flying can be uncomfortable, stressful or scary for some people, but super fun and exhilarating for others. Doesn’t matter the type of person you are, there are some things you absolutely MUST bring with you on a flight. I’ve made a list of things I do or bring with me on flights in order to pass the time and make myself more comfortable.

First off, WEAR COMFY CLOTHES. People that dress nicely on flights absolutely blow my mind. I love clothes, but boy oh boy do I love comfort. Planes are uncomfortable enough to begin with; sitting next to a random stranger, not being able to lay down or rest your head in a comfy position, barely any leg room & having to remain seated for hours on end. So, it’s up to you to make yourself as comfortable as possible – wear sweatpants.

Going off of that, bring a neck pillow!! This is one thing you really don’t want to forget. It comes in handy on all types of transportation – planes, trains and buses. You can get neck pillows online, at drug stores and at the airport. There are so many to choose from, but I recommend one that you can inflate and deflate so that it doesn’t take up much space when you’re not using it! The Metene Travel Pillow is inflatable, with a washable cover & it comes with a carrying bag for storage.

Metene Travel Pillow

Metene Travel Pillow

Headphones! Listening to music, podcasts, etc. will help the time go by. Make sure you download some playlists, podcasts, episodes before you leave. Listening to your favourite music or the sound of someone’s voice often helps soothe and calm people if they are feeling nervous. Keep this in mind if you are someone who feels a little uneasy about flying. Bringing headphones and having something to listen to will also come in handy when you want to drown out the noise of someone snoring or the baby crying three rows up from you on the plane. Check out my Spotify travel playlist!

Snacks :) You probably don’t want to buy overpriced food while on your flight, so it’s usually a good idea to bring some food with you. A lot of airlines offer a complimentary snack or meal with the purchase of your ticket, but not all of them so make sure to double check. If you are bringing your own food, try not to bring things that contain common allergens (like peanuts) just in case someone on your flight has an allergy.

To reduce the chance of your ears popping, bring gum or candy to have while you are taking off and landing. Nothing is worse than having a blocked ear for the first few days of your trip.

One of the most important things you can bring for your flight and for your trip in general is a reusable water bottle! Que water bottles are perfect for travel because they fold up into mini bottles when they’re not full. Que water bottles are BPA and plastic-free & the company has partnered with non-profit organizations & donate a portion of their sales to help fund their projects. Their goal is to impact and protect our planet & preserve our natural resources…… buy a que bottle.

Que bottles

Que bottles

It’s also a good idea to have a personal item bag with you on your flight. In here you can keep your snacks, water bottle, maybe a book to read & anything else you can’t go a few hours without. You know those awful stories where people’s checked bags get misplaced, don’t arrive on time or someone else takes your bag by accident? Well, if you have a checked bag, you might wanna stick your toiletries, any medication & a change of clothes in your personal item bag just to be on the safe side. Also!! Make sure your wallet is in your personal item bag. Your passport, boarding pass, health card, debit/credit & maybe some cash. My favourite one to use is the Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack by Zomake. It’s perfect for your flight and to use as a day bag while you are travelling around. When you’re not using it, it folds up into a teeny tiny pouch that is east to take anywhere!

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Bring you phone charger with you on your flight! You definitely don’t want to arrive in a new country with a dead phone, especially since we often rely on our phones for navigation and for booking info for accommodations. Most planes will have outlets for each person to use.

You might also want to bring a sleeping mask to block out any of the light on the plane if you are hoping to sleep.

Now, you can pick and choose from this list as you wish, but I truly consider each of these items a necessity. You do not want to be stuck on a plane for hours feeling uncomfortable, with nothing to do & a growling stomach. You want to start your trip on a good note and end it on one too.

 Safe travels!

 -K