Barcelona should be renamed to Gaudi as every street corner you take of Barcelona you have a reminder of Gaudi’s masterpieces he has left behind, from a beautiful built house covered in green and pink tiles placed oddly in a normal street of houses to the breath taking Sagrada Familia. Let me tell you how you can take a step back in history with Gaudi the accessible way!
Me and my sister stayed at Aqua Hotel Aquamarina in Santa Susanna, which is located the north end of the Barcelona Coast and is only an hour from Barcelona Airport. The Aqua Hotel Aquamarina is a 4-star hotel that boasts modern luxury. When entering the hotel, you walk into an open plan area of the reception, the restaurant, the lobby bar, the lifts, the toilets and the entrance of the spa and the pool area. It is very cleverly designed to flow into each area of the ground floor of the hotel and in turn makes it very accessible to experience each area. The hotel has been beautifully decorated with simple but classic colours of whites, blacks and pinks. It is a great hotel for families with young children and couples that just want to chill around the pool drinking cocktails and spending that special time together.
They have a range of rooms to suit any budget from standard rooms to junior suites. They have adapted rooms that have all the necessary facilities to make your stay more comfortable but will give you more independence. There are two double beds that are low down, so you can get in and out with ease, a dressing table that you can roll your chair under and an adapted bathroom with a walk-in shower with a shower seat, grab rails and bars next to the toilet. The door width is 82cm, so a manual chair could fit in and move around with ease. We stayed in a Premium room, which we didn’t realise they are not adapted rooms. In the Premium rooms you are able to fit a manual chair through the door and push yourself around the room, but it wouldn’t fit through the bathroom door. In the bathroom there is a bath with a shower, the bath is low down and I was able to get in and out but with the help of my sister, so I suggest if you require a walk-in shower to book an adapted room in advance of your holiday. The room was a pleasure to stay in and there was no noise at night even through your room overlooks the pool and you are right by the promenade. I had no complaints about the room as it has everything you possibly need for a weekend away.
Restaurant and Spa Facilities
We booked on a bed and breakfast basis and we were glad we only had breakfast as the main restaurant where you go to is served as a buffet and does not have a lot of options if you are English as it very caters to the Spanish clientele. It states on the website that it is suitable for celiac and they do give you a nice breakfast of a piece of toast, a muffin and a croissant but you have more difficulty asking a member of staff for a gluten free breakfast and them understanding what you mean as they serve it individual wrapped. Apart from this miscommunication and the variety, the food is served very fresh and the restaurant is clean. On site of the hotel there are two more restaurants called Il Veneziano and Burger Club and these we absolutely loved. Il Veneziano is an Italian restaurant where you can go for lunch and dinner and choose from a wide range of pizzas, pastas and deserts all while sitting in a tranquil and cosy atmosphere and what is even better you can order the pizza you want and take it away back to your room. The Burger Club is a fast food restaurant where you can try a wide range of burgers, grilled chicken dishes and ice cream. I found these two restaurants catered more to the English tourists than the main restaurant and it was lovely to sit outside at these restaurant’s overlooking the pool area and walking straight onto the pomade.
If you want to get out of the sun for bit head to spa and let their facilities make you have a more relaxing holiday! In the spa they have what is a called a ‘Thermal Circuit’ where you can go around the spa and experience different temperatures in a heated saltwater pool, jacuzzi, cold water and hot water pool, dry sauna, steam bath, hydrotherapy shower and a pool with two waterfalls. After the thermal circuit head to the beauty centre where you can have a range of beauty treatments then after that pure relaxion head to the fitness centre and burn those calories off for the night ahead.
Travelling to Barcelona City Centre
Santa Susanna’s Train Station is a ten-minute walk from Aquamarina Hotel and Spa. The train worked out to be the cheapest to get to Barcelona Plaça Catalunya at a price of 20 euros each with return and the train has disabled carriages where a ramp pulls out, so you can get on and off with ease, you have a big open area to place your wheelchair and situated are next to the toilets. The problem with the trains is you can only catch the trains with the disabled carriages on, which means you are limited to the times you wish to go and come back from Barcelona City Centre. Another problem we found was knowing which train to get back on that takes you to Santa Susanna as everything is in Spanish (of course) and it is very busy with everyone getting on the trains luckily when we kept asking people someone understood what we meant and got on the correct one. The journey time from Santa Susanna to Barcelona Plaça Catalunya was one hour and fifteen minutes.
Sightseeing Gaudi’s Masterpieces!
Barcelona is a beautiful city filled with everything from historic sites to shops, cafes and bars, but it is so big to walk around independently as a tourist you can get lost very easily when you don’t know where to turn to next. We wanted to see Gaudi’s masterpiece’s, so we headed to a tourist information centre and they recommended we went on the Barcelona Bus Turistic where it takes you to see all of Barcelona’s main attractions and it was the best thing we did! I could easily get on and off the bus as the bus dropped down for my wheelchair and a ramp came out automatically on the path, along with their being a wheelchair space on the bus to position my wheelchair so I could see the sights of Barcelona as we were travelling to our next spot. It wasn’t just the ease of accessing the bus I like, it was you were able to say to the driver what you wish to see, and he would drive there, you didn’t have to walk around Barcelona wondering if you were going the right way to where you wanted to go. You were able to get off spend some time at the place you were at, then every ten minutes the bus would arrive to take you to where you wish to go. It was a very organised system and for me being in a wheelchair the easier it is to see a city the better! The ticket prices for the bus was 30 euros for an adult, 25 euros for a wheelchair user and 16 euros for a child. We chose the five-hour tour and felt we had seen the main attractions in this time.
My favourite moment of the bus route has got to be arriving at Sagrada Familla, there is no other feeling. I looked out the window of the bus and I was instantly impressed but it wasn’t till I step off and saw it in all its glory I was speechless! You are looking at this true beauty that Gaudi worked piece by piece till he died, and it just overwhelms you. The size of the building, how religious it is, the markings carved into each tiny corner, each with their own story to tell. I am not religious but as you are standing there looking at this breathtakingly and spiritual building, you find yourself getting drawn into the teaching of the Gospels and the Christian Church and what Gaudi wanted everyone to see an immensely symbolic, both architecturally and sculptural masterpiece and you can’t deny it he achieved what he set out to do. I took various photos of the building and myself in front of it but for a little time I just sat in my chair and looked at what was in front of me, just taking it all in and in that moment, I filled with emotional but also a wave of calmness amongst the thousands of tourists. I felt in that moment that anything was possible I just had to believe! Part of me thought one man could not have done all of this and many believe he had the hand of God to create such a masterpiece and part of me believes he did! It was said that they would leave what he had built so far and that is one of the reasons why people go to visit to see this beautiful unfinished architect but with so many people visiting it year after year and it is consistently been given donations for the upkeep they are planning on finishing Gaudi’s vision in 2020, which in turn is a true mark of respect for the complete vision Gaudi had for his masterpiece.
I promise you now you cannot go to Barcelona without seeing Sagrada Familla! The other attractions we saw on the tour was Gaudi’s Cathedral. Park Guell , Barcelona Football Club and the La Ramblas Shopping District. One thing I feel I have to mention is when seeing Park Guell is the bus drops you off near it, but you can’t walk the same way as everyone else due to steps, so you have to take the longer route, which means a massive hill to climb up to see the entrance of the park.
Shopping District of Barcelona
Barcelona is full of shopping opportunities from top designer brands, fashion boutiques and shopping malls. The shopping streets classed as the shopping line and are 5 km long and they say if you want to cover all the shopping line it will take you two days to see it all. Don’t worry about finding them all as they all cross into each other. The shopping line of the streets are called Passeig de Gracia, downtown Plaza Catalunya, Portal de L’Àngel, Avenida Diagonal, Rambla de Catalunya, Las Ramblas, Carrer de Petritxol and La Roca Village.
If you like shopping in elegance head to Passeig de Garcia as it is one of the nicest shopping streets in Barcelona with its wide tree boulevard overlooking lovely architecture along with two iconic Gaudi’s building. It is the most expensive shopping street where you will find Zara’s flagship store and top designer brands.
If you have not got thousands to spend on one bag, then head to Rambla de Catalunya. It is a charming street in a shaded area filled with a mixture of shops from small boutique shops, gift shops, cafes, restaurants and the famous Sephora makeup brand, which is makeup heaven! Sephora was a complete dream with every makeup brand under one roof from Dior, YSL, Marc Jacobs, Mac, Urban Decay and many more! One reasons I would head back to Barcelona is go back to Sephora fill the basket with all the makeup brands to get the complete look. Plus, Sephora was completely accessible too as there was lifts to access each level and completely flat throughout and outside Sephora heading along all the other shops there were plenty of drop-down kerbs to, access the other side of the road.
I loved Barcelona as it has a mix of old and new and I like going sightseeing to see the history then heading to the present to experience the new, then I feel like I have seen all of the destination and I can tick it off my list with an option of going back in the future and that is what I feel about with Barcelona. If I ever go back to Barcelona, I wouldn’t stay in Santa Susanna again as there is not a lot there to do regarding a girl’s weekend away as it is not a lively place filled with bars and entertainment. It is more suited for families with young children as along the Promenade there is a fair every night, 4D movie screens and bike and quad bikes to hire. It is very much a Spanish resort, where the Spanish go on holiday even though the hotel was lovely to stay in and was accessible for my wheelchair, but I would stay in the centre of Barcelona, so we didn’t have to worry about getting transport to and from the Barcelona and would be close by to all the main attractions. I recommend to you when searching Barcelona hotels to look how far it is from Barcelona city centre and to be more précised Barcelona Plaça Catalunya as this links you to everywhere you wish to go on your weekend away!
I really felt I got to experience the whole of Barcelona in three days and plan to go back to Gaudi’s city in 2020!