A few weeks ago I went on a solo trip – I had wanted to go to Spain for a while. I felt so silly that Barcelona was so close to me and yet I hadn’t been yet. So. I decdied to have an adventure. I booked a roundtrip ticket on the iDBus. SNCFs international bus service going to places like Milan, Italy and Madrid and Barcelona, Spain from Marseille and a ton of destinations from Paris. Check it out ! Good part about these tickets, not only are they cheap — they stay cheap (70 euros round trip for me!)! The prices are always the same, up until the last purchase of the ticket. Which is good for the procrastinator, or even a last minute trip! You can choose your seat online, which I advise. This bus is overnight, both ways. Leaving Marseille around 11pm and arriving in Barcelona around 6am. If you are good at sleeping on transport – go for this! Why not travel while you’d be sleeping anyway?!
The bus itself was spacious and comfy. The seats recline really far but most likely you’ll not want to put it all the way back. Your head gets precariously close to the person behind you if they aren’t also layed all the way back. There are power outlets (as well as a USB plug!) and decent WiFi. There’s a small toilet on-board. On my return trip I sat near it … didn’t bother me.
So just print your ticket from online (though my driver was accepting tickets over smart phones, I wouldn’t count on it). Bring a photo ID and show up 30 mins before the bus leaves to check-in. It’s simple!
Here’s my Barcelona Run-down, with pictures. I am now too lazy to type everything out:
- Bike Tour – I used Fat Tire Bike Tours, I used them in Paris (3 times!) and loved it! I recommend doing this your first day, first chance you get. You see so much of the city, fast and early. Then from there you can choose where you wanna go for the remainder of your trip.
- Stamps and Post Cards: Like to get souvenirs for people…post cards are great! Do this your first day, get it outta the way!
- Mojito + WiFi : need to get connected? Get a drink somewhere and use their free wifi!
- Music Palace Tour – probably my favorite thing I did! An amazingly beautiful place! Next time I’ll catch a concert!
- Couch Surfing + Tapas : If you are alone in a city, traveling. Check out the couchsurfing events there. I went to a meet-up in a tapas bar. Cheap drinks and lots of friendly faces. Everyone was speaking English and having a nice time.
- La Perdera – It is under construction so I couldn’t even see the cool outside parts. Dommage!
- Sagrada Familia : An amazing architectural feat! They say they’ll finally be one in 2026 … we’ll see 😀 Worth getting the audio guide and trip to the top. I loved it! Went in the Passion side with the tickets I ordered a few days before online. DEFINITELY do this! I went straight in when it was my time while there was a line nearly around the Sagrada for people waiting to buy tickets there. Book everything you can in advance!!!
- Parc Guell: I didn’t get to see all of this. It wasn’t free like I thought it would be 😦 but just going up there was nice. I had a picnic and hiked around a bit. If you go knowing you’ll have to pay (and wait in line!) just to go in and see this Gaudi park, no worries. But I wasn’t expecting this.
- Picasso Museum: I actually got to go! Cool little museum that, if you’re by yourself, won’t take too long to go through. Sundays after 3p is free for everyone … so expect lines. But free is free! For students it is always free after 3p and the first Sunday of the month is free for everyone, all day.
- Tapas! : I found, via Yelp, a fantastic place! CerveceríaCatalana … If you go, expect to wait. I was just by myself so I grabbed an open spot at the bar and ordered from there. Everything was amazing. I ate WAY too much…didn’t even get dessert 😦 bit it was awesome. I would absolutely recommend this place and I will go back!
- Took a 5 mile run in the park
- Took an excellent Frapaccino (for the wifi!)
- Took my big bag to the luggage lockers at station (5 euros for all day!)
- Casa Basillo: very cool building! Book in advance to get right in (no need for the silly fast past they mention). Comes with free audio guide which is really interesting!
- Gran Teatre del Liceu – Opera in Barcelona: while randomly walking down La Rambla I saw the opera house. Lucky for me there was an English tour in about 5mins. I paid my little fee and in I went. This is a really nice opera house and I would love to see a show here.
- Funicular to Mountain: Took the lifts up to the mountain. Unluckily – to get into this castle at the top – you have to pay. and there aren’t student discounts. I didn’t feel like paying the 5 euros to go it. So I just walked around. Then found a place in the grass and took a little rest. It was wonderful!
- With only a few hours left, and me exhausted I decided to go see a movie 😀 This is always my go-to when adventuring wears me out! The movie would get out with plenty of time for me to get my luggage and catch my overnight bus back to Marseille. Perfect idea ! And in most big cities you’ll find movies playing in V.O (original version) with subtitles. Which is helpful for us non-spanish speakers in Barcelona.
Some talking points:
Hostel Etiquette: (My hostel was excellent btw) I realize the point of hostels is that we are all young and wanting to party and have a good time, meeting people and whatnot. However…you gotta respect some rules that are out there, unspoken ones.
- If the lights are off, past 10pm, in a shared space of 6 beds … it probably means someone is sleeping! [I was in bed attempting to sleep around 11pm in a 6bed shared hostel room. I know this is early, for a hostel and especially Barcelona. However, I got up and started around 8am and didn’t stop all day. I was exhausted and I was going to do it again the next day. I had my earplugs so noise wasn’t an issue ((buy the earplugs in wax. they are awesome!)) but someone came in and turned the light on, even though it wasn’t necessary. I was not happy about this. They just looked at me like…um, why are you trying to sleep. Doesn’t matter the reason. Common courtesy peeps!]
- Clean up your stuff! [it’s written everywhere but people still leave stuff everywhere. I don’t even agree with leaving your shampoo in the shower after you’re done. Sorry guys, this is not your house.]
- General Friendliness [Turns out, I didn’t wanna talk to people. I wanted to adventure alone. I realize this isn’t what hostels are for and now I know I should’ve been elsewhere. But if you book a hostel, don’t follow my example. Be social. Smile. Invite conversation and interaction!]
Last minute tips and tricks
- Take a bike tour and take it the moment you arrive! I took mine with Fat-Tire Bike Tours. I used them in Paris too and I am always happy
- If you want to do a long weekend, opt for taking the overnight bus or whatever and spend all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Avoid Monday (unlike me) so that you can get the most out of the city (since some of the museums are closed on Mondays!)
- Buy as many tickets as you can ahead of time : I bought my tickets for nearly everything I did ahead of time and it saved me a ton of time, stress and sweat from standing in line. Some tickets are time/date specific (Sagrada Familia) but some can be used any time (Casa Batllo). Make a daily tentative game plan.
- Venture away from the touristy areas like La Rambla. Walk down to take in the atmosphere but don’t linger too long. It’s not worth it! My bike tour guide said that a survey was taken and 80% of the people on La Rambla at one point were not Spanish…
- I ADORE the Top 10 – travel book series. If nothing else they always include AWESOME maps (including a pull out one that is small and durable! use over and over (like I have with my paris one!) and don’t look like a 100% lost tourist with a giant paper map laid out in front of you in a crosswalk.