I have a tendency to cram a lot in and the same goes for how I travel. I would rather get a taste of a place if I have limited time than to skip it altogether. This was the case for my VERY short, 24 hour stay in Barcelona.
Picking a hotel just off Las Ramblas was an excellent idea due to a couple of factors.
a) Close to a train station
b) Close to the bustling market, restaurants, bars and nightlife
c) Easy to find
These factors are important when trying to navigate one's way by public transport, travelling on your own or limited on time!
On arrival into Barcelona airport I found the train station and asked which stop was closest to my hotel. I had been told that there was a taxi strike so the train was my only option but I had been told 2 different stations and wasn't sure which was best. Turns out I chose the one that was slightly further away but regardless not that far from my hotel. I'd chosen the Le Meridian purely for location. I would have preferred something a little more authentic in style but being only one night this ticked all my boxes. My arrival although earlier than check in time wasn't a problem and they were more than accommodating with getting me a room immediately. Exactly what you need after travelling for 30 hours! A shower and change of clothes was all I needed before wanting to get out the door to go exploring.
First stop though was hotel concierge. I can not rate speaking to the concierge (or front desk staff) highly enough in ANY city. A good concierge can provide you with a short list of places to eat, things to do in a short amount of time and help you get your bearings quickly. The Le Meridian front desk were excellent at helping me decide what to do with my next 24 hours happily!
Off I went with map in hand, camera in a bag and in hunt of food and hours of sunshine to explore Barcelona by foot. First stop was a gelato, followed by following my nose through the incredible market, down Las Ramblas and losing myself in the Gothic Quarter. My idea of heaven really. Found my way down to the water where there were market stalls, buskers and a lovely marina. Realising that it was actually much later than I thought (forgot that the sun sets so late in Europe in Summer!) I found my way back through the Gothic Quarter to the first of two Tapas stops because for me food is a vital part of being in a new place.
I must note; I have never enjoyed eating on my own and even more so when travelling. My mission this trip was to embrace it and enjoy it! Stopping for patatas bravas, olives and a sangria in an outside dining area of a little square was lovely. Some dancers entertained us and the streets were slowly emptying of people into the early dusk. Happily I set off to find another spot that had been recommended by my hotel and had more delicious tapas as an early dinner. Well, not early for me, but early by Spanish standards where it is common to not eat till 830 or 9pm!
The following day having slept in a little longer than I'd have liked, I set off to get the Hop on/ Hop off bus. This is my favorite way of seeing a lot of a city in a short amount of time. These double decker buses are in cities all over the world and have commentary running so you know what you're looking at. For time poor travellers or those wanting to get your bearings quickly, this is the way to go! I got a seat on the upper level to get some sun and didn't get off at any of the spots till I got to the Sagradia Familia. I hadn't prebooked tickets (a bit silly in hindsight) and all tickets to go in were sold out. Having limited time anyway this was probably not a terrible thing and is cause to return to Barcelona again! With only 24 hours it is impossible to do too much so I was happy to get another gelato and walk back to my hotel to check out and kill a few more hours having lunch before my train to Girona for the next part of my trip