Barcelona evokes images of music, food, art and architecture. It is a magical city, overflowing with culture and history. At every corner one encounters picture postcard views and impossible beauty. It can easily overwhelm the senses. Located on the Mediterranean, Barcelona is Spain's second largest city, yet distinctly Catalan.
Often a traveler will choose to see as much of a city as is humanly possible in the shortest amount of time. In Barcelona this is a mistake. There are so many experiences that will be missed as one breezes from one historic site to the next. Barcelona is a city that needs to be enjoyed and savored like a delicious meal.
Here are a few suggestions for experiencing the charms of Barcelona.
Architecture – Barcelona is a treasure trove of architectural styles and periods. Stroll the tree lined avenues while admiring the architectural details and variety of the buildings, stopping often to appreciate the beauty, or linger over a café con leche, churros and hot chocolate or a glass of wine. The Gothic Quarter is the heart of Barcelona, built by the Romans. City government buildings are here as well as the Gothic Cathedral and royal palace. Christopher Columbus was received in the royal palace by Ferdinand & Isabella after his successful New World voyage. One of the largest monuments dedicated to Columbus is located near Port Vell.
Antoni Gaudi – Architect extraordinaire that forever changed the face of architecture and is inexplicably linked to Barcelona. Tour his magnificent buildings including: Sagrada Familia, the cathedral that began construction in 1882 and continues to be built long after his death; Casa Mila the apartment building that looks as if it is melting and contains unusual shaped chimneys on the roof; Casa Batllo with a colorful dragon’s back above the main façade and covering the roof; and Park Guell is a public space containing arcades and viaducts made of stone with unusual structures and colorful mosaic tiles scattered about the park.
La Rambla – Barcelona’s most famous pedestrian thoroughfare stretching from Plaza Cataluña to the sea at Port Vell. During the day vendors sell food, flowers and merchandise. After dark restaurants and bars come alive with music everywhere, this is an excellent place to enjoy sangria and people-watching.
Cava – Spain’s version of champagne is made a short distance from Barcelona in the Penedes Region. If you love bubbles, you will be delighted to find house cava at very reasonable prices in nearly every restaurant and bar in Barcelona. Try the sangria de cava, made with cava and summer fruit, a lighter version of sangria made with red wine and so delicious.
Shopping – Barcelona is a shopper’s paradise. Leather goods are reasonably priced with outstanding workmanship and artistry; colorful ceramics of Catalynia and Spanish designs will brighten any table; clothing from local Spanish designers will perk up a tired wardrobe; and espadrilles will make your feet happy wandering around the city’s cobble stone streets. La Manual Alpargatera has been making colorful hand-crafted espadrilles on the premises and is the city’s oldest store.
Tapas – Spain’s version of small plates elevated to culinary excellence. Sit back, order a glass of cava or red wine and select from an array of delicious tapas. No meal would be complete without Gazpacho, chilled tomato soup with garlic, so refreshing after a morning of touring. Tapas bars vary from self serve to full service some favorites included: jamon y queso; olives, sardines, green olives & pasillo peppers; tuna, red pepper, anchovy & garlic; and gambas. At self serve tapas bars, you are charged at the end of the meal by the number of toothpicks on your plate.
Art – This is a city that truly appreciates art in every form. Choose from among museums, art galleries and architectural tours. The Picasso Museum is located in the Old Town and features over 3,000 pieces of his earlier work, housed in five adjoining medieval palaces.
Touring – Barcelona Tailor Made Tours will customize a tour for you to maximize your time in Barcelona. We enjoyed a Gaudi Architectural Tour, a four-hour adventure featuring Gaudi’s most famous architectural works. The best thing about the tour is that we had our own private and knowledgeable guide and bypassed long lines entering through side doors. At Sagrada Familia, we enjoyed learning about Gaudi’s plans for the remaining building construction and the symbolism incorporated into his designs. Barcelona Tailor Made Tours also features cultural, gastronomic and wine tours.
Sleep: Hotel Soho Barcelona is located on Grand Via and a short walk to Plaza Cataluña, the metro and La Rambla. Rooms are spacious with modern design and very comfortable. Breakfast is served each morning and they offer a business center. Hotel Banys Orientals is a boutique hotel located in the Born District among charming shops and restaurants. Its’ location is perfect for exploring the city’s designers, historic architecture and shops.
About the Author: Karla writes about global destinations, food, wine, horse racing and exotic car events. Discover more from over 400 travel articles of places to explore.
©Karla Erovick 2013 article, photos
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