Grand European Tour Barcelona, Spain
For starters, we loved Barcelona; absolutely loved it. We would recommend Barcelona to just about any traveler (experienced or not) because it is such a visitor friendly environment. Not only is the city packed full of life and color through its architecture and character but also through its people and the rich mixture of culture that can be found there. Boasting a reputation as one of the most attractive cities in Europe, Barcelona celebrates its role as the capital of Catalonia. The city’s cosmopolitan international vibe makes it a favorite city for many people. Boredom is almost unheard of for visitors to the city, with a range of activities and attractions to enjoy.
There’s something about the electrifying mix of beach and big city that gets us thinking about the Gold Coast, Queensland. With this in mind, we had more than an inkling that Barcelona would be love at first sight. From its wide avenues, plazas of gorgeous detail-drenched architecture, international population and proximity to the Mediterranean, Barcelona didn’t disappoint.
The biggest impression this city left on us was its attention to detail. Everything from the ground we walked on, to the buildings we peered up at was covered in beautiful, intricate patterns and ornate decor. Gaudi’s footprint was certainly left on this capital of Catalonian culture and seeing his bizarre, legendary works was aesthetically fulfilling.
This city is buzzing with excitement, which with a population of over 4 million is no difficulty. It is the number one most-visited city in Spain, and the second-largest in population, after Madrid. It’s well-regarded for its economic, entertainment, and cultural offerings, and seemingly has it all: a Mediterranean climate, a bohemian feel and an undeniably energy.
A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t have been complete in my mind without seeing Camp Nou, home to Barcelona F.C.: arguably one of the best teams in the sport, in the world.
We arrived late afternoon to Barcelona and after a change of clothes we headed to Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is the heartbeat if the city. You simply can’t visit Barcelona without making a visit to this popular bustling city street. Go shopping, enjoy a meal, drink a glass of sangria or two, and watch the people go by. There are usually always street performers to keep you entertained. But whatever you do, watch your belongings. Las Ramblas is one of the most common places to get pick-pocketed in all of Europe. Happy to say, we escaped without incident. We had time to have a look at a couple of shops, then we took in a Tablao Cordobes Flamenco Show. Combining an excellent meal with a look at the traditional Flamenco dancing, the experience offered a great insight into Catalan culture and the passionate dancing which has been taking place here for over forty years.
Up early the next day we explored Gaudi’s architecture La Sagrada Famila. The construction for this church started in the late 19th century, halted in 1926 when Gaudi died, and continues today with his style in mind. They say it could still take another quarter of a century to complete. We didn’t go inside, as the line wrapped around the building, but simply marveled at its uniqueness and detail from the outside. We then moved onto Casa Batlló . The roof of Casa Batlló resembles the back of a dragon. Its vibrant exterior displays colorful mosaic made from broken ceramic tiles, while bone-like adornments surround its windows. For obvious reasons, it is commonly called The House of Bones. Just a few blocks from Casa Batlló was Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera (the stone quarry) It was built in the early 1900’s by Gaudí and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 for its uniqueness, artistic and heritage value.
We then jumped on the bus and passed La Monumental and Montijuic. We then passed trees and gardens and onto the site left behind from the 1992 Summer Olympics, though it is still in use today. We had a look around the chairlift and lookout before heading back to the hotel to catch up on some washing. That afternoon we jumped in a cab and took a tour of Park Güell. Park Güell is a little off-the-beaten-track, but totally worth the effort to get there. We Wandered through the gardens and took our time looking at all of the unusual and colorful sculptures and mosaics throughout the park.
We then watched the sunset at Turo dela Rovira viewpoint. It offers some of the best views over the city, this site was once a military installation protecting the city, but now visitors and locals gather to enjoy the view and see the sun setting over the Mediterranean.