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davidx Barcelona - A travel report by David
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Barcelona,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Barcelona - a city for everybody.

  16 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
OK, I confess. I thought Barcelona was a city of hype or, at best a young person only place. I went for a quick look, stayed 5 nights and loved it, in spite of being robbed! It’s got something for everybody

A bit of Gaudi, Parc Guell
A bit of Gaudi, Parc Guell
Let’s get the crime out of the way first. Surely, for medical notes, the whole idea is easy access. Anyway, I love to think of the thieving ‘gentleman’ finding what he’d taken. Next time I went, I was lined up for a scam – I was lucky but I’ll explain later for others. The answer isn’t to be deterred from visiting this wonderful city but, as anywhere else, to be mightily careful. LAS RAMBLAS - Deservedly one of the most famous roads in Europe running from the sea up to the large and fountained Catalunya square, its flower stalls, the Liceu Opera House, just reopened after fire when I was there, the fabulous market and the plethora of eating places are well known. Less known – and sadly so – is the DRASSANES Maritime Museum near the bottom. I only bother with museums if they are somehow ‘special’ to the place – and this is uniquely situated in 13th century dockyard buildings. I didn’t bother with the Colon [Columbus] column at the bottom but you should if you are not going to see the view from Montjuic. THE SAGRADA FAMILIA – Who’s not had a postcard with it on? In spite of the fact that, to my mind anyway, it’s one of the least photogenic sights I know. The sheer size and height are essential to a proper appreciation, and any photo which shows it in full gives no idea of this. Anyway, it’s stupendous. TALKING OF GAUDI – he is, of course to be found almost everywhere. The Parc Guell is utterly fascinating – more photogenic but the tactile sensation also helps the appreciation. If you want to see his earliest commissioned work, look at the lamp standards in the Plaça Real [but not after it’s dark I gather!] There is a Gaudi trail [info from TIC]. OTHER ARCHITECTURE – Yes, there is some – get a guided tour of the Palace of Music. Mad and indescribable but glorious and nothing to do with Gaudi! [ /dataDetails-696/en--GB/ The-Catalan-Music-Pa-lace- barcelona.aspx] (without the gaps)

Favourite spots:
Plaça Real, with Gaudi lamp posts
Plaça Real, with Gaudi lamp posts
Amid the fascination of modernist architecture, don’t neglect the older stuff. The Gothic cathedral’s a phenomenal building – and its cloisters [see later!] favourite for me however is the stained glass in the lovely church of Santa Maria del Mar, just down the road. The whole of the Barri Gotic repays a careful wander. The Picasso Museum and the Museum of the History of Barcelona are both in buildings nearly as interesting as the exhibits. Serious art students may be a trifle disappointed that the Picasso Museum is biassed towards his earlier periods – but that suits me just fine! The cloisters at the Monastery of Pedralbez are really good if time allows but go by metro and then walk, unless you want a VERY long look at shops from the bus in dense traffic. I stayed near the old [Antic!] hospital. This is now part of the University. Even the litter doesn’t prevent it from being worth seeing. Do go into the market, even if you want nothing. You might really! See the Liceu too.

What's really great:
Fundacio Joan Miró
Fundacio Joan Miró
The National Museum of Art of Catalunya is in a 20th century ‘palace’ built for an exhibition but the contents are very old. In particular, the ancient Romanesque murals brought from Pyrenean churches to preserve them from Napoleonic troops, are superb. This can be reached by a whole series of outside escalators from the Espanya square [a bit smaller than the Catalunya!] On leaving, get behind and above the museum and turn left to enjoy a shaded walk among fine trees to the Miró Foundation. Do go in and hire headphones for your visit. I should have been lost without them. Then go on in the same direction, past a boring viewless funicular on your left down to near Drassanes, to reach a chairlift on your right to the top of Montjuic. From the top the views over the town and particularly over the port are something else! A major regret is not having seen the Tapies Museum, which I am told is special.

Monasterio de Pedralbez
Monasterio de Pedralbez

MONSERRAT [or Montserrat] Start at the station for local lines from Plaça de Espanya. You can get a ticket that covers you for the cable car as well. The monastery is situated on a mountainside with picturesque rock outcrops. There are two funiculars; only bother with the downhill one if you want a shrine. The other takes you up to the top and to the start of some fine walking. Two major attractions are the boys’ choir – 1300 is the hour I believe – and the black Virgin – which I found myself able to forego. I regard the monastery as a scar on a lovely landscape – but i do realise I could only get up because it’s there.

NURIA – Go from Sants station on the Puigcerda line. If it’s convenient, break your journey at Ripoll to see its anciient monastery and then go on to Ribes Fraser. A few meters on is the private rack railway [your ticket covers it if you ask] up to another monastic site at Nuria. You are also covered for a visit to the monastery and the chair lift up to the tops.

First, book somewhere! This is not a good place for wandering round with luggage, failing to find room – as I did for a long time [partly because I used to be miserly when on my own!]
I have stayed at two places; at one the bedroom door lock was faulty and I had a right old do in my pyjamas going down for help! I’m hardly going to commend that – even though the situation is convenient.
The other is the Pensio Tamashiro at c/Hospital 93, comfortable and friendly, shared toilets, clean, but a bit far from Las Ramblas for me to be happy if my sister goes there alone [unlikely as I’m an only child!]

In general try to be on or near the upper half of Las Ramblas or the Plaça de Catalunya.

Ancient monastery, Ripoll
Ancient monastery, Ripoll
I don’t know the name of the vegetarian restaurant I’ve been to several times – but it’s dead easy to find. As you look up Las Ramblas from outside Liceu, on your right near the Miró pavement, two roads start together, one at right angles and the other at about 45 degrees. The restaurant, not more than a café to look at, is a short way along the latter on the left. It’s a combination of Indian food and delicious vegetables, no doubt from that fabulous market nearby, served in numerous containers on a massive tray-like platter. The puddings are always tasty and the fresh fruit drinks are a knock-out [not literally!] You hardly need me to say that it’s really cheap.

Other recommendations:
Indoor market, Las Ramblas
Indoor market, Las Ramblas
Here’s the long awaited scam! You find you have something revolting on your clothing – yes, you can guess but fortunately it didn’t have the smell. A respectable middle-aged person offers assistance. You graciously accept and go with him into a toilet – where his friends quickly mug you and rob you.
I was set up with the substance and approached by a respectable middle-aged man – in the cloisters of the Gothic cathedral. From there the story changes. He took me to one of the women on duty who let me clear up in the fountain in the cloisters, no doubt a sight of some wonderment to other visitors. Was the man innocent – or a crook who realised he was being watched? As I said, I was lucky because I didn’t know this scam and could well have fallen for it.

There’s SO much I’ve missed. Even the websites could fill most of the space allowed but I particularly rate ish/turisme/welcome.htm. [no space]

Published on Wednesday January 12th, 2005

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Tue, Feb 01 2005 - 10:51 AM rating by mtlorensen

Great report, David...a city I won't miss again! Glad you made it though the incident okay. One can always buy new clothes. ;)

Thu, Jan 27 2005 - 06:19 AM rating by ardelia

Here's another good one, I love reading your reports, it seems so honest and real. thanks for sharing!!

Fri, Jan 14 2005 - 02:57 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report again

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