Barcelona: Find the treasures of Barcelona today!
If you ever find yourself in the city of Barcelona, you will soon realize why so many visit this part of Spain every year. Thousands flock to its shores annually, making it a popular destination and one not to be missed. Why you may ask? Well, nestled on the North Eastern coast of Spain, Barcelona boasts warm temperatures, awe-inspiring architecture, great food and excellent nightlife. The culture, like the beer, is on tap for all to take a memorable sip...
Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonian region of Northern Spain, and has a language all to itself, Catalan. The majority of Catalonions however are bilingual and can speak Spanish as well as of course universal English, so communication should not be much of a barrier. It is, however, likely you will pick up the odd Catalan word here and there on your travels - these are great to use when talking to the locals and will impress them no end.
Being such a hub of activity and vibrant tourist attraction, Barcelona is easily accessed by air no matter where you live. A fifteen minute taxi ride from the airport will get you to the city centre without breaking the bank, or for those on a very tight budget, there is always the train and subway or bus which is pleasantly efficient and quick. Cars can also be hired from the airport for a fair price, but driving downtown is not for the fainthearted, unless you know your way around!
You will find a wide variety of accommodation available when visiting Barcelona, ranging from hotels, hostels to self-catering apartments of all shapes and sizes. Barcelona is geared towards tourists and knows what they want, so whether you have a lot or a little to spend, you will find something adequate to suit your taste. There are plenty of hotels to choose from which cater to all budgets, but if you're looking for something more intimate and laidback, then a good option may be to rent a self-catering apartment. Around Las Ramblas for example, you will find many inexpensive apartments, small but adequate, clean and some come with a small balcony or terrace, great to enjoy a beer outside in the warm sun, while listening to the hustle and bustle emanating below. If you are lucky enough to get a terrace however, be prepared to take the hike up several flights of stairs for the privilege, as many of these apartments don't have elevators! It is wise of course, to first of all choose what area of the city you want to stay in before you book. Guidebooks and maps will give you a rough idea of what each area consists of and how far it is to travel to each place you wish to visit on your travels.
Once the flight, transfer and accommodation has been arranged, then comes the difficult part...deciding what to do! This is a challenge as Barcelona has something if not many things to amuse young and old alike.
For the architect lovers, Barcelona will appeal to your trained eye. Catalans are extremely proud of their rich heritage, and anyone who has been to this city will attest to the architecture of Antonio Gaudi being a major part of the Catalan pride. Indeed, the mark of Gaudi cannot be ignored and it can be said that his buildings are synonymous with Barcelona. When you first come face to face with one of his creations, you will likely start to wonder just what his inspiration was and will quickly understand why such a lot of material has been written about his work, both good and bad. For example, when walking along the Passeig de Gracia, Gaudi's Casa Batlo stands out from a distance, with its dragon scaled roof, bulging gothic windows and toothed frames, with shining pastels emanating wealth and colour. I highly recommend taking the time to sit at a nearby cafe to linger on the many curious shapes and colours which this building impresses upon you. Tours can be taken of the interior, showing that this is not merely a beautiful facade on a hollow, empty shell, but a complete work of art - Gaudi's furniture designs in the interior, curved walls and ceilings and spiral staircases add further depth and demonstrate that Gaudi was not merely concerned with outward appearances. On the opposite side of the road from the Casa Batlo is another Gaudi building, the Casa Mia, which takes up an entire corner of the street. It again cannot be appreciated without a tour of the interior and the roof, which complete the whole structure. A visit to these two buildings should be high up on your list of things to see.
Another 'must see' building by Gaudi is of course his famous church 'La Sagrada Familia', meaning 'Church of the Holy Family'. At first glance you will notice that this is not your 'average' church building, although if you already know anything about Gaudi, this will come as no surprise. The most intriguing fact however about this building is that it is still not finished, even though the project began back in 1882. Since Gaudi's death in 1926, work has continued to be done to bring it to completion, but even today you will see that there is still a long way to go. The building itself is more of a kind of workshop, where you can witness certain pieces of the building being crafted, and can appreciate the huge amount of effort being put in to the structure. It itself is a demonstration of the fact that Gaudi's design for this church was no mean feat and that he intended it to be a masterpiece of his creative ability. A tour of these grounds comes highly recommended and for a breathtaking view of the city, do not forego a trip up one of Gaudi's tall, gothic spires - there is thankfully an elevator which will take you to the top as it is a very long way up by foot!
If any of these buildings stir in you a desire to see more of Gaudi, it is worth picking up a book on his work in any book/museum shop - they will detail other landmarks to visit, and the best way to reach them. If you are tired of seeing buildings however, then a trip up to Park Guell may be an option, where you can enjoy the magic of Gaudi in the open air.
Moving away from architecture and Gaudi, a top priority of things to see on your visit is The Dancing fountains at the Placa d'Espanya. These are for many the most exciting of events that Barcelona has to offer. As they only appear at certain times of the night, and anyone lucky enough to see this spectacle will be stunned at its beauty and splendor. It is truly a water dance to music, and as the show is set against the grounds of a huge classical palace, the beauty of Barecelona is animated to life. The colours, shapes, music, are a delight in themselves, and best of all, it's free!
For those with an interest in sport, a visit to Barcelona's Camp Nou will be a trip to remember. Camp Nou is home to Barelona's soccer team, Barcelona FC, and seats close to 100,000. Proudly situated 5km from the city centre, the stadium can be easily reached by car, metro or bus, and daily tours are conducted around the stadium and adjoining museum. This tour will impress on you just how important the people of Barcelona view soccer, and why it is such an important part of Catalan culture. If you get the chance to watch Barcelona FC in action, whether at the stadium or at a nearby bar, you will either way experience this passion for soccer first hand.
When it comes to choosing somewhere to eat, lack of choice will not be an issue. There are tapas bars on every corner, offering all sorts of Spanish delights in the way of seafood and other culinary treasures. Although of course there is plenty of other cuisine on offer apart from Spanish, but there is certainly something special about being in Barcelona and eating tapas late at night, as the spanish like to do. These 'little dishes' help you try many different kinds of food all at once, and are best accompanied with a large glass of the foaming ale. For those completely unacquainted with tapas or Spanish beer, a tasty option is 'patatas bravas' which are potatoes drenched in hot spicy tomato sauce, washed down with some Estrella Damm, which is called the 'Beer of Barcelona'. Beware, as the more beer you drink, the more patatas bravas you will want to order...and vice versa!
This is just a small morsel of all the many things to taste and enjoy in this diverse and exciting city. Join the many fans of Barcelona and make the trip here in person, you will not be disappointed!