Barcelona is notorious for pick-pockets and this is something I realized the hard way, in spite of being pre-warned and exercising all caution. So, my trip started with spending half a day lodging a complaint at the police station!
We parked our luggage at Kabul hostel and headed off to explore the La Rambla street- a lively promenade that offers a multitude of food and shopping options. The boulevard is best experienced in the evenings afoot, when it is all lighted up and filled with street artists and performers. Do explore the markets adjacent to the street- they are pretty cost-effective and extremely colourful.
There are free walking tours, for which bookings can be done online and it is one of the most convenient ways to get a head-start on understanding the history, culture, architecture or experience the local flavours. Some of the places to visit/experience that can be covered include:
Picasso museum, glass makers street, Cultural Centre in El born district, Ajuntament de Barcelona-the political heart of the city, Sagrada Familia, Mulberry Cemetery, Cathedral Barcelona, Santa Marina del mar church, Camp Nou, the Gothic quarter, Plaça del Rei, Park Güell, Plaça nova
The city-squares are surrounded by buildings of modern and medieval architecture. These are very lively and often crowded. Some host an antique market and sometimes, one can share a move with the traditional Catalan dancers here.
Day 3 was the trek up Mt.Tibidabo (courtesy Joey’s stories in Friends). It is almost a half-day uphill trek, through less trodden precarious paths amidst the jungles. But, the panoramic view of the entire city and the sea in the horizon makes it completely worth the sweat. Montjuic is another less-challenging trek and road uphill flaunts multiple attractions like the Olympic stadium, Miro Museum, amongst a few others.
Barcelona has the Gaudi’s architecture, it has the beach, it has the Football Club of Barcelona it has people from all over the world! You just can’t remain unaffected by the youthful vibe of this city!
Our Barcelona stay could have also been called “How We Met Gaudi”. We spent a big chunk of our time visiting Gaudi’s marvels, like La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.
La Sagrada Familia & Park Guell
For his time (and even now-a-days!) Gaudi was an architect which such a distinct style. His work is truly fascinating! La Sagrada Familia is a cathedral but could have been a set out of The Lord of the Rings. Majestic! Park Guell, on the other hand, is like Hansel & Gretel’s story in real life. This man did not like straight lines – all his buildings are curvy, intricate, just like out of story books! Apparently, he took his inspiration from Nature and as in Nature there are no straight lines, life and art should resemble exactly that.
For my first day in Barcelona, I spent the afternoon taking a walk down “Las Ramblas”. This pedestrian-only street stretches for about a mile from the Placa de Catalunya all the way down to the port. Along the way, there are restaurants, cafes, stands selling flowers and animals (which was a little odd), a huge market and more street performers than you’ve ever seen in your life.
The first thing to know about Barcelona is that the city’s architecture is heavily influenced by Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi. I was not that familiar with Gaudi’s work but examples of it can be seen all over Barcelona and it is really unusual and impressive. My first stop was Barcelona’s most recognizable landmark, Gaudi’s unfinished and indescribable La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family).
Next on my list was La Pedrera (Casa Mila), an apartment building, considered Gaudi’s greatest work. Like the church, this building also had sort of a “melting” appearance. It was built between 1905 and 1910 and it’s a wavy gray stone structure with balconies covered in seaweed-like wrought-iron. Also like the church, it is much better seen than described. In fact, I discovered that Barcelona on the whole is a tough city to describe.
I haven't been to much of Europe but Barcelona will always be a favorite no matter what else I see. I love spanish (and catalon) speaking countries, the attitude, the night life, the art, the people, everything was amazing and everyone was friendly. Can't wait to return!