I am taking you back to Europe in this Monday Memories and once again exploring a city in another mode of transportation! I have done boat rides and gondolas, walks and trams, this time I am exploring a city by bicycle! I have been fortunate to visit Barcelona twice and the first time I was convinced by my friend Courtney to do a bike tour. Now, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years and she wanted me to ride it in a city I had never visited before?! This was going to be an accident waiting to happen.
We decided to go with Fat Tire Bike Tours, which has bike tours throughout Europe. After picking out our bikes and finding one that would suit all of our heights, which was a bit more difficult than you’d think, we met our guides and they explained the rules. While I should have been listening, I was too busy freaking out at the fact we wouldn’t be getting helmets and we would be going along long spans of streets. I was pretty sure I was going to die. SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t.
Luckily, our first stop of the bike tour wasn’t too far – just around the corner to Plaça Sant Jaume, the city center of Barcelona, and home of the Government of Catalonia and City Hall for Barcelona. We learned a bit about the tumultuous history between the two ‘governing bodies’ before pedaling our way to Plaça del Rei, or the King’s Square, again learning tidbits of history about the Kingdom of Aragon and the possibility of a poisoning of one of the kings. This is also supposedly where Ferdinand and Isabella received Columbus when he returned from discovering ‘the New World.’
Next, we briefly stopped by the Barcelona Cathedral, which was under construction, before cruising over to the Palau de la Musica Catalana, or the Palace of Catalan Music. It is a beautiful concert hall built in the early 1900’s and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
We then pedaled to the Arc de Triomf, but not the one you are thinking of. While the most notable triumphal arch is in Paris, there are actually tons located throughout Europe and the world. This Arc was built as the entrance for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair and sticks with the beautiful reddish brickwork found throughout the city.
After the Arc de Triomf was the toughest part – this was the longest stretch of cycling we had to do and it was all on the street, yikes! Luckily, I only hit one fire-hydrant during the whole process and never fell off! The guides do a very good job of watching over everyone and directing us through the traffic. We stopped by the old bullfighting arena, ‘La Monumental‘, as well as, Vila Olimpica, and a refreshing drink on the beach before our final two spots
Parc de la Ciutadella was once a large fort, but in the 1800s it was converted into a park and zoo. Supposedly there are over 7000 animals in the zoo! My favorite part was the beautiful fountain, created by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. You can see his unique work and style throughout Barcelona, but he is most known for….
none other than the Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is a Catholic Church and unlike ANY church I have ever seen, with lizards, and snakes, and fruit, etc. Despite the fact it is still being completed, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 1882 and they hope it will be completed by 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s tragic death. The story of his death has always stuck with me, while he was doing one of his daily walks, he was hit by a tram. Due to the fact he was wearing shabby clothing, people thought he was a homeless man and didn’t help him. They left him for two days before finally an officer got him to the hospital, where he was eventually recognized, but at that time, it was too late. 🙁
Overall, I had SUCH a blast doing this tour and I am so glad that my friend Courtney suggested it. In fact, when I visited Barcelona two years later, I suggest doing the bike tour to my friends, and I did another one! The second time we did it with Barcelona Ciclotour, which was a bit different but JUST as good! If you are in Barcelona, I definitely suggest doing a bicycle tour. It is a fantastic way to see the city and get some good exercise. At the time of our tour, it was around 20 euros, and it seems that is only went up a few euros AND they are kid friendly, if you are looking for a fun family event!
Please note, I was in NO way paid for by either Fat Tike Bike Tours OR Barcelona Ciclotour for this post. They have no idea I am doing this!
Please note 2, this is a memory so some of the details may be a bit fuzzy and the tours may have changed a bit!