Earlier this year we launched a fantastic competition to win a sun-kissed trip to Barcelona, courtesy of the Catalan Tourist Board. Although we would have loved to give tickets to each and every one of you, there could only be one winner, and that was Bhavni Shah. Not only did Bhavni win return tickets for herself and her PA, she also got to stay at the 4 star Ilunion Bel Art, within easy distance of the Sagrada Familia.
So lets hand over to Bhavni, so she can fill us in on her adventures in the Catalan capital…
I was really excited when I learnt I’d won the Catalan Tourist Board Competition. Although I’ve been to Barcelona before, there was still so much of the city that I wanted to see, and so many other places to explore. This was also going to be my first holiday abroad without my parents, so though I was nervous I was also really happy to be taking this step forward. A little bit about me first: I’m a 30-year-old woman with Muscular Dystrophy and I work full-time for an electric company while living at home with my parents. I love going out and about to shows and restaurants with my friends, so I was pleased to be taking a PA that knows me very well to Barcelona, so that I would feel comfortable, relaxed, and free to explore the city without any complications.
Although our flights were delayed on both the outward and return journey (though this was obviously no fault of the competition or the Catalan Tourist Board) we eventually arrived in Barcelona and headed straight for our hotel, the Ilunion Bel Art, a modern four star hotel about 15 minutes walk from the Sagrada Familia. Although the hotel was a bit further out than I’d anticipated, it had excellent facilities for wheelchair users and the room was spacious, with a wheel-in shower and enough space throughout for me to get around easily. I also asked for an extra mattress, as the bed was too low for me, and the hotel quickly provided one. We then had a good continental breakfast the next morning and the hoist, which had been given to us for free by Itomi (the orthopedic aids store) was waiting for us in the room, along with the shower chair provided by the Catalan Tourist Board.
In order to get around the city, we decided to use accessible taxis, as although I had been provided with free passes for the Tourist Bus, and though I knew that much of the Metro system was accessible, I was hesitant to use them, as I was afraid of getting lost or stuck underground in a city where I could not speak the language. If I visit Barcelona again though, I think I will try to use both, as our experience of the accessible taxi system wasn’t great, especially when compared to the 24/7 taxis of London. We had to wait quite some time for every taxi we booked, and often had difficulty communicating as none of the taxi drivers spoke English. I think if we had done more research before we left the UK, we would have found the whole situation a lot smoother.
Once we had got into the main city centre though, we had a wonderful time exploring all that Barcelona had to offer. We looked at the outside of the Sagrada Familia, as I had been inside before, and we also saw the Olympic Park from the outside during a taxi tour we took of the city. We also visited the Barcelona Stadium, which was really interesting and went to the famous W Hotel, which has stunning views of the city and some truly amazing cocktails! Our favourite part of the trip though, was seeing a traditional Flamenco show at a theatre on Las Ramblas, and then wandering down the famous street afterwards, taking in its rich cultural history. Although the Catalan Tourist Board had kindly provided us with free tickets to La Pedrera, we simply ran out of time to visit it, though we’d love to take a look if we visit Barcelona again.
Overall, our little holiday felt like a whirlwind and I wish we’d been able to stay longer and experience more of what Barcelona has to offer. I would definitely like to come back someday, and would highly recommend it as a holiday destination to others, though I’d advise everyone to do a little more research before they jet off. It has definitely given me the confidence to travel alone, and though the flights were delayed, I was relieved that my wheelchair arrived in one piece on both the outward and return journey, and reassured that all the equipment had turned up when I phoned the hotel to confirm before leaving the UK.
This mini-break has taught me a few lessons about planning and given me confidence to travel on my own, so I am very thankful to Disability Horizons and the Catalan Tourist Board for giving me this opportunity, thanks guys!
Click here for more info on Barcelona.
If you’re planning your next holiday, why not visit our new travel site, Accomable, to find accessible accommodation not just in the UK, but across the world.