By Jodi Cross
Barcelona is a city nestled amidst the Mediterranean Coast and flourishes with gifts from the sea. Known for its distinguished architecture and host of the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona is in continual motion. During the Olympics, the city opened itself up to world. This transformation brought about a unique balance where history intersects with cosmopolitan chic.
The region was settled by the Carthaginians and Romans over two thousand years ago. Today Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and is a showcase of modern Spanish culture, infrastructure and emotion. Barcelona is a city to be experienced, the passion of the architecture draws you in. History and tradition are blended eloquently with beautiful scenes of Mediterranean tiled fountains and streets with a backdrop of mountainous topography stretching down to the sea. Picasso stroked his brush over Barcelona and you can view some of his exquisite works at Picasso Museum.
Most of the infrastructure that was put in place during the Olympics still exist. One of the most useful resources is the Bus Turistic. If you have ever walked a major city with cobblestone streets and foreign language signage confused and tired, you will truly appreciate The Bus Turistic.
The bus takes you to the top attractions in the city. There is a detailed timetable at each stop. Once on the bus, the information officer describes the locations in three or four different languages. This is a tour by the locals and you get to know the city from their perspective.
Some of the “must sees” in Barcelona are the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and Port Vell. The Sagrada Familia was the most incredible structure I have ever seen and can hold it’s own in the realm of European churches. This was especially noteworthy, as I had just come from The Vatican. The Sagrada Familia is the famous symbol of Barcelona created by the distinguished architect Antonio Gaudi. The production began in 1833 and was unfinished when he died in 1926. The outside is magnificent and resembles a modern sand castle with large caressing drops of sand forming faces, biblical scenes and animal reproductions. The Themes represent the Birth of Christ, the Passion of Death and Eternal Glory. You can’t help but marvel at the vision Gaudi must have had to create this structure.
Another must see is the Park Guell. This is another Gaudi project completed in 1914 and designed as an English Garden with an impressive entrance referred to as the Hall of the Hundred Columns. Once inside the park, the benches are decorated with multi-colored mosaic tile and are shaped like a large serpent that squirms around the perimeter of the park. Artists play music and sketch pictures. This is were you will find the famous mosaic lizard displayed. Take the cable car to the Castle of Montjuic and catch a birds eye view of the beautiful city below. The skyline is engaging with Gaudi’s modernist style threaded throughout.
At the end of La Rambla, a famous street in Barcelona, stands The Columbus Monument looming high above your head as you take in the view of the whimsical Port Vell.
This Port was breathtaking, one of the cleanest in Europe, with an entire dinning and entertainment complex centered around it. This is the hub of evening entertainment with restaurants, cinemas and discotheques offering every type of food and music you desire. Barcelona offers some tremendous culinary delights such as; the plentiful and fresh seafood dishes and Sangria which are both part of the life blood of the Spaniard’s culture and something not to be missed. Be prepared to stay up late, the night is still young at 2:00 a.m. in this Spanish City.
Among the many attractions are the shops. Windows are laced with bull fighters, Spanish fans, swords, and a variety of leather goods. You can bargain at the variety shops. Walk away if the deal is not right, there are hundreds other merchants waiting to do business with you. As for the high end stores, try the Passeig de Garcia, La Rambla and La Catalunya. This is where you will find some of the best leather and tile goods in the city.
If you have an extra day, there is a Spanish Village called Poble Espanyol on Montjuic. This charming little village of shops and dining establishments is surrounded by thick gothic walls and provides a lovely day excursion.
In the city of Barcelona, you won’t need a car use the bus. The natives are “good will” ambassadors with a distinct fondness of tourists. Learn some key phrases or bring a phrase list, the residents really appreciate any attempt you make to speak in their native language. As I reflected on my time in Barcelona and about Columbus as he set off to discover the new world, I found myself wondering why he would ever want to leave.
Jodi Cross is a freelance writer, travel blogger and marketing expert and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .