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Travel experiences: Barcelona,Spain – Part 8

The beauty of Barcelona can hardly be described in words because Barcelona is all about wonderful colors and most extraordinary forms. When the sun shines, and it shines almost always, the facades of those fabulous buildings gleam with brightness: Ramblas, Passege de Gracia, Plaza Catalunya, La Pedrera in shapes and shades of the architect Gaudi who made this city so different from any other. A touch of Gaudi’s art has been spread widely in the town and in its outskirts. If there is enough time, a walk through the Parc Gell should not be missed, as well. It needs time though, but it is rewarding with the most exciting feelings and great enjoyment.

Not only Gaudi has made this town so memorable; there are other artists too, only to mention Juan Mir, Salvador Dal or Pablo Picasso. Picasso did not live here for long but when he was 18 he had his first exhibition right here and he used to meet his avant-garde mates in the caf named El Quatre Gats (Four Cats). In the Montcada Street where an awesome renaissance villa has been transformed into the Picasso Museum, after a stroll through the vast museum rooms I can find a cozy place to have a rest and dine: the restaurants in the narrow, medieval streets offer a range of different dishes, from traditional paella and sea food to delicious tapas of all sorts.

I have been to Barcelona in different seasons and it has always been magnificent, charming and sparkling with vibrant colors and sounds. Even in December when it is winter in Europe, the streets in the city center are almost crowded and shops open till midnight. This is a Mediterranean way of life. Loud and wordy. People are talkative and friendly although it may take a while until they show you their true, caring, nature and widely open the house to you. They welcome tourists, are helpful and happy to show what their city can offer. Frankly speaking, they prefer French to English. Not only because of the closeness to the French border, but also because for many years and centuries French was the main language of communication in the Mediterranean. Moreover, one can also notice that Catalan, which is the official language in Catalonia alongside with the Castillan (Spanish), is actually more like French than like Spanish.

Barcelona today is more a multicultural Mediterranean metropolis than a Catalan capital. In a survey carried out by the Catalan Institute the majority of more than a thousand interviewees from all Mediterranean countries

See The Great Works Of Gaudi In Spain

There are a few things you should consider before taking a trip to Barcelona. There is so much to see and do in this fabulous city that you will want to make the most of every minute.

Make sure you have a good camera, with plenty of film, or a good battery and charger. You are sure to take a whole load of photos, to keep and treasure yourself or to send to friends and family as souvenirs.

Invest in a good map which shows all the museums and places of interest. Although you may enjoy wandering around the city, and there is certainly plenty to look at, it is easy to get lost which is frustrating if you only have a short time. If you want to visit a lot of museums or galleries, check out the passes available from the tourist office. You can save a lot of money by investing in a pass rather than paying individual entrance fees. The pass may also entitle you to take the hop on, hop off tour buses that will help you get an idea of where everything is located in the city, without tiring your feet too much.

The weather in this part of the world can be very varied, so you want to take advantage of dry, fresh sunny days by doing outdoor activities and checking out the coast. Save the countless museums and galleries for cloudy, rainy or overly hot days.

Some of the most famous sights in Barcelona are architectural, and you need to be sure to include the various Gaudi buildings in your itinerary. Most will be unable to avoid the spectacular Sagrada Familia, but it is easier to miss such delights as La Pedrera, the ‘block of discord’, which is equally astonishing in its design, and the highly original Park Guell in the north of the city centre. If you are not an experienced photographer, it might be worth checking out the postcard stands for truly beautiful shots of these buildings to add to your holiday album.

Make sure you leave time for a stroll down the main avenue of Barcelona, La Rambla, which stretched from the commercial city centre all the way to the harbor. This lively promenade, filled with the color of flower and bird stalls, and the bustle of street performers will have something for everyone. You could also try to pull in a visit to the 1992 Olympic sites, located on Montjuic, a hill overlooking the city.

If you have time to get away from Barcelona itself, there are fantastic places to visit along the Costa Dorada. You might also venture up to the Monestir de Montserrat. Reached by cable car, this monastery is set high up in the mountains, surrounded by really unusual shaped rocks and peaks. The views are spectacular.

Eating out in Barcelona is a pleasure in itself. Don’t expect to eat early, most restaurants do not get lively until at least ten o’clock, and the party goes on all night. Seafood is a speciality of the area, not surprising given its location, and the seafood stew known as zarzuela is a regional favourite you should try to sample. If you don’t want a full meal, tapas bars can provide tasty snacks or traditional finger food for a very reasonable price.

Barcelona City Break Guide

There are many things that you will want to see and do while you are in Barcelona for your city break. Remember that in order to find time to do them all, you should plan your schedule out in advance.

Things to Do In Barcelona

One of the best things to do on a Barcelona city break is to get a hop on hop off bus pass. This will allow you to visit most of the important sites while you are in Barcelona. It will also give you two days of traveling on the bus in order to go from place to place, and will take you to all of the important sites. Many of these buses have two day passes you can buy, and this will be much less money than taking cabs. You will also be able to listen to the information on the tour bus and learn a lot about Barcelona.

One of the things that you want to be sure to do is to see as much of the art as you can. There are many examples of Gaudi that you can see all over the city of Barcelona. You can tour several homes made by him and several projects, such as the Sangria Famillia, one of the most important sites to see in Barcelona. You also want to be sure that you are visiting Gaudi Park, which is another important place to witness his art.

Arts & Culture

Art is not the only thing that you can see on a Barcelona City Break. You can also find music, which is something that you might want to check out. There are several live music venues that you can listen to while you are in Barcelona.

Another important thing to do on your Barcelona city break might be to check out the remnants of the Barcelona Olympics. Olympic park and village are two wonderful things that you will be able to see while you are there, and these are great experiences for your entire family.

Hit The Beach !

If you have the time, it is always nice to spend an afternoon on the beach at Barcelona. This can be a great way to enjoy the sun and sand as well as the water, and to be able to relax a little bit. Along with the traditional Spanish food that you will be able to find, you can enjoy both the day light hours and the night time hours as long as you are sure that you have it all planned out!

Great daytrips from Barcelona – Spain

Gaudi chose the city of Barcelona to construct many of his amazing designs, adding greatly to the attractiveness of the historical city. There is a wide and varied range of museums and galleries and the nightlife is bustling, with something on offer for everyone. But it is not the last stop in Catalonia. The surrounding areas in close reach offer some interesting and exciting daytrips.

Barcelona is close to a number of amazing attractions from geological sites and historical cities to the stunning mountains of the Pyrenees and the rugged coastline of the Costa Brava. Its wealth of history and unique culture, language and heritage mean that it is very difficult to be bored in Catalonia.

A short 30-mile (50km) trip from Barcelona will take you into the mountains which overlook the city. Barcelona Cheap Car Hire Prices The journey is like going from one world to another and upon arrival at the landmark of Montserrat, you will need to pinch yourself to make sure it is not a dream. The astounding natural rock sculpture is a unique geological formation and considered a powerful symbol by Catalans. The beautiful abbey built under the towering mountain is renowned worldwide for its music school and the oldest European boy’s choir.

Anyone interested in the curious character and artist Salvador Dali will not want to pass up an opportunity to visit the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres. It is a bit of a journey – 78 miles (125kms) from Barcelona – but is worth it to view the building designed by the artist himself. Don’t be shocked by what you see considering whose brain child the building is. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of works created by the artist, but there are some interesting things to learn about the life of Dali and a selection of ornaments and memorabilia on sale.

The popular resort of Port Aventura is perfect for a fun filled family day out. Built upon acres of incredible scenery, the park offers five ‘worlds’ of rides, including the Far West, China, the Mediterranean, Polynesia and Mexico. Two of the most jaw-dropping and heart-racing rides include the Dragon Khan roller coaster and the drop ride called Hurakan Condor. For the best of Catalan party life, Salou is the raging nightspot. With an abundance of bars, live music venues and thumping nightclubs, sleep will be the last thing on the agenda.

For those who wish to enjoy the high life that Catalonia has to offer, Sitges is the destination for you. Visited by many sophisticated northern Europeans, it is a place to hang out with the cool crowd. There is a real artsy feel to the place and a number of museums to visit, including the Marciel and Car Ferrat. The Old Town is a picturesque quarter with many quaint cafés and restaurants to enjoy an afternoon beverage.

If you simply cannot stay off the golf course while away from home, don’t fear. El Prat golf course, designed by golfer Greg Norman, is only nine miles (15kms) from Barcelona. Located along the Costa Brava, it features a gourmet restaurant, swimming pool, Turkish baths and a sauna. So, if you are only going along to please the golf fanatics, don’t feel bad; you can pamper yourself to the max.

For a taste of some of the finest Spanish wine and an insight into the wine production of Catalonia, Penedes is the place to visit. Torres is one of Spain’s better known wines and its wineries are located in this beautiful region of the country. Cava is also a respected sparkling white wine produced in the area. Make sure you bring a designated driver! Barcelona Online Discounted Auto Hire

Girona is the second city after Barcelona and is a quaint medieval place. The cobbled streets, intertwining up a gentle hill, red roof tops and medieval architecture make this a charming alternative to the bustle of Barcelona. For relaxed book or antique shopping or just sitting back and watching the way things go in Girona, La Rambla is a chilled walking street.

Travel experiences: Spain – Part 2

BARCELONA – OLD AND NEW

Barcelona has changed a great deal since the first time we were there on honeymoon. Back then, in 1954, packaged air tours were still a thing of the future except for the really wealthy. The rest, like us, went by rail.

We stayed at the Hotel International which is right on the Ramblas and the place where the writer George Orwell stayed when he was reporting on the Spanish Civil War. Here we were well looked after by a venerable waiter who took us under his wing and discovering we were on honeymoon decided we needed taking care of, to the point where he just waved the menu under our noses at mealtimes then proceeded to feed us every dish on the menu. Often as many as 16 variations. A wonderful man.

At that time Barcelona still had an effective tram system and if you ever dared try crossing the road against the lights or in the wrong place a fiercely whistling traffic cop hustled you back to the sidewalk. The main rail lines into the City ran through open topped cuttings in the middle of the road so you’d suddenly be faced with an approaching bursting cloud of steam coming towards you along the road.

The houses and monuments of Miro and Gaudi were there of course and along with the Guardia Familiar were sights worth seeing and visiting. The Blue Tram ran to the foot of Tibidabo from where the funicular took you up to the pleasure grounds at the top of the mountain, past a sign proudly announcing you were as high as the Eiffel Tower. At the top was a mock-up of an aircraft that swung out over space at the end of a long arm. Nigh on fifty-five years later the same aircraft is still swinging out into space and it’s hard to tell how much care and maintenance it has received in the meantime. While the same can be said for the cableway that runs from a high tower in the docks to the Spanish Village on the bluffs overlooking the harbour.

The narrow streets of the old quarter, packed with shops full of exciting goods, has vanished under the new constructions which were erected for the Barcelona Olympics but the Bourn area still retains a certain feel for what was there before.

Now there are only a handful of ultra modern trams but buses are plentiful as is the ever present taxi which is an inexpensive way of getting around. But forget these, turn your back on the extensive Metro system and do as we did. Get around on two legs, it’s much more fun and as well as being tempted to break your walk frequently by the smells issuing from the many coffee houses, cafes and patisseries you’re sure to meet some of the friendly and interesting locals.

Of course you may never meet the father of the waiter Manuel from the TV series Faulty Towers but that as they say, is another story.

Travel advice: Pickpocketers paradise in Barcelona

Having got real excited about visiting Barcelona, the home of Gaudi and his weird and wonderful architecture we began to hear some horrendous stories about Barcelona’s sub-culture – the underworld of pick pocketers. But we were all seasoned travellers and having discussed the probeln in mirth we felt confident that none of us would be vulnerable. However, despite our pledge to be ever vigilant these canny crooks were to prove even more devious than we could have imagined.

We were targeted twice! Imagine that in a long weekend!

The first time we were sat as a tight group at a street pavement cafe and decided to show off our digital cameras around the group. Well they were being passed round with great enthusiasm and my bulky, but expensive digital SLR was placed on the table as my son went off to the inside toilet (too much information I hear you cry). My eyes were fixed on my daughter-in-laws wizardry when she coughed loudly and demanded that i immediately pass my camera to her. “Patience is a virtue” I stated with a smile & then noticed her agitated look. It seems that when my son had left the table, a guy had carefully and slowly pulled his chair over towards our table and was so close that my camera was within his reach. As my daughter-in-law caught my attention he had shot off at great speed.

We had got over the shock of his audacity and were determined that our great City break would not be ruined by local rogues. However out tenacity was to be further tested a couple of days later when we descended into the depths of the Metro.

Having checked out the metro map we pondered on the instructions on the automated ticket dispenser before realizing that the instructions could be selected in English and multiple single journey tickets purchased in “one go”. having cracked this simple fact the rest of our purchasing became much easier. The Metro was clean and bright and the six of us now felt confident as we passed through the automated barrier to access the station. We chatted about the Gaudi apartments and our high expectations of the Park Guell (our next destination) and whilst the other five sat down I wandered the platform taking the odd photograph.

The train’s arrival was counted down on an overhead TV screen and I wandered off taking photos down the platform. Due to my wanderings I boarded the train by a different entrance to the rest of my family and as I approached them my attention was drawn to the closing door that had trapped the

Insider’s Guide to the Beach of Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in Europe. Tourists visit the proud Mediterreanean port city far more than they visit the capital of Spain, and Barcelona’s rival city, Madrid.

The 1.7 million inhabitants of Barcelona is proud of it’s cultural heritage with the architecture of Gaudi and as the home of Catalunya. In addition the city offer first class shopping opportunities, wild nightlife and a pleasant climate all year round. But, what really makes Barcelona such a perfect destination for a weekend break is the combination of all what the city has to offer as well as a great city beach where you can relax and unwind.

The beach and things to do there

You can’t go to Barcelona without going to the beach of the Barceloneta. While it may not be the clearest water you’ll see along the Costa Brava, it’s definitely a nice respite from the rhythm of the city and a good way to breathe in the salty sea air without breathing in something else.

Starting at the southern-most point, where the Paseo de Joan de Borbon hits the beach, the boardwalk takes you northward along the beach, past beachfront cafes, chill-out bars, up a grassy hill to the new port, filled with sailboats and yachts of every shape and size. The local people who visit the beach are tanned, relaxed and stylishly clothed. You can of course swim in the sea or read a book while on the beach, another nice thing to do is to try to spot the north-European tourists who visits the beach. Find the pale ones among all the tanned locals!

From here you get a good perspective of the geographic orientation of Barcelona, with Montjuic Park and its castle to the south, and the hills to the north, Barcelona is a city where the mountains meet the sea.

As a further point of relaxation, if your body requires it, take advantage of one of the many women offerings massages at around 5 euro a pop. Just sit back, breath, and relax…

A trip to Barceloneta beach is perfect after a experiencing what else Barcelona has to offer. After a day of shopping or a night of drinking it’s nice to lie down and soak up the sun at Barceloneta.

How to get to the beach?

All of Barcelona’s sights and attractions are easily available by public transport. Especially if you are travelling on budget, you should look into the best transport option for you. Budget wise, the best option is the integrated 10 trip bus/metro pass. It costs 7.90 euro and can be purchased at any metro station. It’s good until they change the prices and can be shared, unlike the 1, 2, or 3 day passes which are also a good value if you’re planning traveling heavily by bus or metro. Both the metro and bus system cover all of Barcelona, and you’ll find a relatively easy to read map of the bus routes and most stops. The metro and bus system both stop at midnight, although there is a night-bus system, which, although reduced in terms of coverage, can still get you home at the end of the night. It is easy to find your way to the beach in Barcelona. Simply get on the yellow metro line and jump off at the metro stop named Barceloneta.

Barcelona and choosing where to stay for your holiday or vacation

It can be difficult sometimes knowing exactly where to stay in a city when it is the first ever visit to that place. Barcelona as a city is a great place to spend a few days, but where should you stay and in what area? Below we discuss a few of the areas you might want to stay in for your trip to Barcelona.

La Rambla (also sometimes written as Las Ramblas) is very much the hub of activity for tourists and there are several hotels and rental apartments in this area. The area has a lot of restaurants and bars and is well connected in terms of buses and the metro and is within walking distance of the marina and sea-front. On the down side, this area can perhaps be a bit too crowded and noisy at night time and for this reason you might want to be near to but not exactly in this area. It really depends on your age, your reason for visiting Barcelona and your preferences.

Barri Gotic ajoins La Rambla and there are some very cultural and interesting areas to roam around in here. You can also find some B&Bs, hotels and apartments for your holiday or vacation in this area. Barri Gotic is central and close enough to the beach, the marina and La Rambla.

Sagrada Familia is a nice area which is still very central, has many bars and restaurants and is still very central and also a short bus ride down to the sea-front. Sagrada Familia is famous for the church build by Gaudi and this is one area you will want to visit for sure during your time in Barcelona, even if you do not choose to stay here. There are many vacation apartment rentals in this area and a few good hotels.

Montjuic is a good area if you want to stay slightly out of the basin which is Barcelona, with Montjuic situated on top of a huge hill, with a wonderful view overlooking the port and marina and with a great view of the city as a whole. There are a few high quality hotels around Montjuic, although fewer local bars and restaurants.

Exiample is a popular area to stay in, with its nice location very centrally, but slightly away from the immediate hussle and bussle fo La Rambla. Exiample in many ways is the perfect combination of location and local amenities and facilities.

Barcelona UNESCO World Heritage sites – 9 masterpieces to marvel. Part 2

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Hospital of the holt cross and saint Paul) has a cunning location, diagonally north west of Sagrada Familia cathedral along Avenida Gaudi (Gaudi Avenue), and has to be one of the most striking hospital entrances ever made. This brickwork alone makes the building seem overpowering yet welcoming, and the ever-present tile work changes at every hour of the day you happen to pass. This is just a short walk from Sagrada Familia, and well worth the look – joining two beautiful buildings.

The only sight located slightly outside of Barcelona (in Santa Coloma de Cervello) is the Colonia Guell. The aforementioned Textile merchant Count Guell also confided in Gaudi to construct his out of town mansion as far back as 1890. The results are breathtaking, and although it may not be worth the trip out to visit in a short stay in Barcelona, images and prints can be seen inside La Pedrera’s attic museum.

Just a short walk from La Pedrera, is Casa Batlló and is said to pay homage to the patron saint of Catalunya, Saint George. The facade of the building has bone-like window frames and the rooftop is tiled to resemble the scales of a dragon’s back – that same dragon Saint George killed. The building is open for visitors, and is also used as an exhibition space on the first floor.

North east from here, a short walk takes you into the neighbourhood of Gracia with the fabulous “Casa Viçens”. By now, you will be able to instantly recognise the Gaudi touch, and the wrought iron gates will make a big impression. Although you cannot visit this building, the location is such that it’s easily accessible and another notch on your Gaudi belt.

Last, but by no means least, is the only non-Gaudi building to be featured in UNESCO’s list. The famous Lluis Domenech i Muntaner (creator of more than one eye-opener in Barcelona) has the “Palau de la Musica Catalana” admitted into the books. This wonderful concert hall has been criticized in the past for the acoustics by musicians but never fails to impress the visitors, located in the Borne neighbourhood of Barcelona. Guided tours (who are endless in their wisdom) will take you around the fascinating interior – with the most striking experience being the illumination taken from the centrepiece of the ceiling in stained glass in the main hall. If you’re lucky enough to visit the city whilst a concert is playing here – forget the critics and go!

What to know about traveling in Spain

As Americans, its hard to not associate Spain with the “Latino” culture here in America. Many people think that a visit to Spain could be similar to a visit to Latin America. Perhaps that just goes to show how uncultured some of us are. However, Spain is anything other than similar to Latin American culture apart from its language.

Spain is a country rich with culture and flavour. The people are some of the more beautiful of Europe, and the lifestyles they live are laid back. Staying there for a week could give any fast paced American a change in perspective. The Spanish are notorious for their afternoon siestas, and their late dining. Normal families eat dinner around 10 pm everynight. They dont mind eating this late, since they have had a nice afternoon nap, called a siesta. Dont expect to do alot of shopping during this town, as everyone shuts down during the mid-day heat.

Barcelona and Madrid are obvious cultural choices to visit. They have beautiful museums for Picasso, Gaudi, and other legendary artists. The nightlife is hopping, and the food is excellent Paella and tapas are a treat that everyone should thank the Spanish for. Not to forget Sangria!

But while considering Spain, dont overlook the lesser traveled places. Last summer, we chose to go to Valencia Spain and experience what a Spanish beach holiday wuld be like. We began in Alicante which has a terrific historical center. Its small and beautiful lit up at night. There are some great pubs and sandwich shops that stay open till all hours of the night. As we traveled through the area, we soon learned that it was a favorite holiday place of Europeans. We also decided why they chose not to talk much about it, its the best kept secret in Europe. Its hot all day, and the nights are even steamier. I wouldnt recommend this for the older crowds, but for younger travelers, you might just find yourself in the best beach scene around. After a day at the beach, you can go back, nap, and clean up for a late night out. Don’t rush through dinner either, because dance clubs and bars dont even get busy till 1 am. They dont empty out till 7 am either.

Spain is a vibrant country with plenty to offer. Just dont forget to overlook the lesser known cities when you go!