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bineba Barcelona - A travel report by Sabine
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Barcelona,  Spain - flag Spain
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bineba's travel reports

Barcelona the Beautiful

  10 votes
Page: 1 2
Barcelona, the Catalan capital, is many people’s favourite European city and it is easy to see why. The people, the architecture, the views, the beaches, the old town, the museums, the nightlife, the restaurants - it's all there.

Barcelona from the top of Mount Tibidabo
Barcelona from the top of Mount Tibidabo
Barcelona has many distinct areas, all worth a visit. Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street, just over 1 km long, with its 24 hour traffic of all humankind, its markets and street performers. The beaches and Port Olympic. Barceloneta and Port Vell with its yacht harbour and seafood restaurants. The Barri Gotic or Gothic quarter with its magnificent cathedral, narrow lanes full of interesting restaurants, cafes and shops. The old quarters of Born and Ribera with the Picasso Museum, the elegant Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and the green oasis of Parc de la Ciutadella next door. Montjuic, home of the Olympic Stadium and several museums. The Eixample with its shops on Passeig de Garcia, Art Nouveau architecture and many of Gaudi’s most famous buildings. Gracia, with its almost village like atmosphere and little squares full of pubs and of course Parc Guell.

Favourite spots:
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s masterpiece, Temple Expiatori de la La Sagrada Familia, is still a building site and won’t be finished for many more years to come, but it is the most beautiful building site you’ll ever come across. Don’t just admire the church from the outside, but buy a ticket (that’s how the work is being paid for) and go inside and take at least one of the lifts on either end (the Nativity façade, which was designed by Gaudi himself or the Passion façade by Josep Maria Subirachs), but not if you are claustrophobic. The views of Barcelona and the details of the mosaics on the towers are both worth it, though. The interior is largely unfinished but you can see the amazing pillars shaped like giant palm trees and beautiful stained glass windows. Don’t forget to visit the museum in the crypt, which displays plans and models of the church by Gaudi.

What's really great:
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Gaudi’s legacy can be found everywhere, from the the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, to the the lamp posts in Placa Reial or a fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella. Casa Mila is an extraordinary building and reputedly doesn’t contain a single straight line. The views from the roof terrace, full of strange looking chimneys and turrets, are great. Casa Batllo opened its doors to visitors last year, go on a self-guided tour of the house. Previously I was reduced to just sitting on a bench in front of it, gazing at the fassade in sheer wonder. The interior is very interesting as well and you can see how Gaudi used nature’s forms in his designs. Palau Guell is one of my favourites, the one hour guided tour takes you from the stables in the basement, through the reception rooms and private apartments of the Guell family and the amazing three storey high salon, up unto the roof, again topped by chimneys and turrets decorated with mosaic tiles. Don’t miss the unusual weather vane – it’s a bat!

Nou Camp Stadium
Nou Camp Stadium
If you are a football fan you don’t want to miss a tour of FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium. There are two different types of tickets available: One allows you to visit the museum to see the impressive trophy collection and the stands to see the stadium itself. We went on a one hour guided tour with a very knowledgeable guide, taking in the changing rooms, a chapel, the president’s box and a visit on to the pitch itself. The Magic Fountain or Font Magica, might be a bit tacky, but I enjoyed sitting on the steps of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya on a warm May evening, listening to movie themes and classical tunes while the water in the fountain danced and changed colour with the music.
Mmake your way up to Mount Tibidabo, even if you don’t visit the amusement park and make sure you go on a clear day, the views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean are stupendous. To get there you’ll have to take a bus, a tram and a funicular railway, but it is all worth it in the end.

Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas
We have been going back to the Hotel Lloret for the last three years and like it because it is so central, right on Las Ramblas near Placa de Catalunya. Rooms are basic, but clean and the staff is very friendly. If you are a light sleeper, I would recommend you book a room at the back, but we enjoy standing on the balcony and watching the goings-on on Las Ramblas.

The Magic Fountain
The Magic Fountain
There are hundreds in Barcelona , but I liked El Xampanyet, a tiny cava and tapas bar on the Carrer de Montcada, just around the corner from Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, which hasn’t changed much from the 1930’s.

Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria
There are an endless number of restaurants in the city offering set meals for lunch and dinner. It usually includes three courses, water, bread and wine. Lunch deals start from around 6 Euros. Obviously you can’t expect a gourmet meal for that, but the food is fresh and filling.
Restaurants I like include:
Els Fanales on Rambla Catalunya is a budget restaurant, open daily.
The food and sangria are good and the young staff is friendly.
Els Quatre Gats, in Carrer Montsio in the Barri Gotic, had its first menu decorated by Picasso and it was a meeting plaace for the great minds of the time. Try and get a table up on the gallery to do a bit of people watching while you eat the Catalan food. Midrange.
Tast d’Argenteria on Argenteria in Born serves fresh, tasty food in a nice setting and does a good lunch deal.
El Rey de la Gamba in Barceloneta’s Passeig Joan de Borbo, right by the harbour, serves huge plates of the freshest seafood.

Other recommendations:
Cavas Freixenet
Cavas Freixenet
If you like your cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, visit Sant Sadurni d’Anoia about 44 km from Barcelona and easily reached by train. Right next to the station is Caves Freixenet. The free guided tour starts with a film you are then taken on a tour of the caves, where a friendly guide will explain to you the process from the grape to the bottle and you get a glass of cava at the end. In the yard you find some bizarre vehicles, like a motorbike shaped like a bottle and a van shaped like a cork.A 30-minute walk from the station is Caves Cordoniu, another famous winery and they also do free tours. Before you disappear into the bowels of the earth, enjoy the lovely garden. On the tour you get to see a museum before being taken on a little train that takes around the miles and miles of corridors lined with cava bottles in the caves. At the end there is also a tasting and the opportunity to have your picture taken with a 2 meter high cava bottle. And they have a shop selling cava and wines.

Published on Thursday September 2th, 2004

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Fri, Sep 03 2004 - 05:49 AM rating by bear495

You have some wonderful photos mixed in with this report that I do not see in your photo gallery. Please add them, as they would be a wonderful addition to the collection that exists. Another great travel article!


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