by Carter Harrington
With the days flying by at the speed of light and just under a week left in Barcelona, along with an unforgettable spring quarter 2017, my parents decided to pay me a visit. Of course, my uber-organized mother researched, planned and booked several guided tours and visits to Barcelona historical sites and landmarks. Among the guided tours she planned, was a half-day city bike ride with Fat Tire Bike Tours.
At first, I was a little hesitant about this bike tour… in the past three months I’ve spent in Barcelona, I have seen multiple groups of tourists moseying around on bikes, being honked at, yelled at, and really just getting in everyone’s way, not to mention a couple of crashes here and there, thankfully, nothing serious. But these bike tours just seemed to be a bit out of control. However, the city bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours was an absolutely amazing experience.
Not only did we get to see several landmarks in Barcelona, but Dicken, our outgoing, informative, and humorous tour guide from Great Britain, got our group of sixteen from place to place using extreme caution, while providing a wealth of information regarding the culture, history, and politics of Barcelona.
The tour started at 11:00am in Sant Jaume Square, just minutes from my apartment in the Gothic Quarter. The forecast was perfect shorts weather and good for a four-hour bike ride—mid 70s, with a nice amount of periodic cloud cover.
After playing the name game and getting to know each other, our group exited the square and walked around a corner to where Fat Tire Bike Tours was located. In addition to me and my parents, our group was made up of a couple from Switzerland, another couple from Britain, and a large bachelorette party from Exeter, also in Britain! Within minutes everyone was sharing stories and joking around.
Once we received our city cruisers we were off, but initially on foot, because it’s against the law to bike through parts of the Old Town, in addition to the fact that we had to navigate our way through throngs of people.
Our first stop was Plaça Reial, a square connected to the old Royal Palace of Barcelona, now a museum of Roman and Gothic architecture. Dicken loaded our brains with information on Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World, Ferdinand & Isabella, and what it all meant to Barcelona as well as the entire country of Spain.
After fewer than 10 minutes spent in Plaza del Reial, the sixteen of us were off, closely trailing behind Dicken in what he called the bus formation (Dicken in the lead, followed by the rest of us in pairs close behind).
We made several more stops along the way at iconic landmarks in Barcelona, such as the Palau de la Musica, the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Arc de Triomf, Sagrada Familia and the beach at Barceloneta. My favorite stop was the Palau de la Musica Catalana, a music hall designed in the Catalan modernism style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The music hall is made of concrete reinforced by iron, brick, and large window panes. The exterior is covered in beautiful mosaic tiles with glass and iron fixtures spaced throughout.
At each stop, we had anywhere from five to ten minutes to wander around and bask in the beauty of these amazing landmarks.
Near the end of the tour, we had worked up an appetite and stopped on the beach for lunch at Beach Garden Barceloneta. Our timing was perfect as a rain squall hit and people were exiting the beach as though there were sharks in the water! We sat under cover outside, but protected from the rain as we sampled a variety of excellent food, such as seafood, salads, tapas, burgers, sangria, and beer. Once we wrapped up lunch, the sun was shining and we headed back to Fat Tire to drop off the bikes and say our goodbyes.
The experience was amazing, informative and I highly recommend the Fat Tire Bike Tour as a fun way to get some exercise and see the city from a great vantage point. Ask for Dicken as your guide—he’s bright, funny, and possesses a wealth of information on the history of Spain as well as what’s happening in Barcelona’s political scene today.