Barcelona is spain’s second city and the capital of Catalonia in the north of the country. The city is a vibrant metropolis with a great artistic and architectural heritage. Many of the building are art nouveau with many being designed by the avant-garde and occasionally bizarre architect Gaudi, of whom his professor, at his graduation said “I don’t know whether we are graduating a genius or a fool!”
It is a well laid out city with broad streets and wide walkways. The city transport and tourist infrastructure underwent a massive program of improvement and modernization from 1987 to 1992 in preparation for staging the Olympic games, and today that legacy still ensures good quality, plentiful accomodation and good transport links.
The people here seem to have a passion for all things artistic and as such you will find many street artists and performers and, as well as a profusion of the more usual galleries, concert halls, museums and exhibitions. The nightlife is also good, Barcelona is definitely a party city and the streets are generally safe at night although all the usual precautions are still advisable.
The food is generally of a very high standard especially the tapas, selections of different foods such as olives, spicy chorizo sausage etc which is a good reasonably priced option in the bars. Seafood is especially good, as Barcelona is truly Mediterranean city. When eating in restaurants send back anything you didn’t order, those wonderful looking appetizers are not a gift from the kitchen and you will end up paying for them!
Barcelona has a a temperate climate more than hot enough to fulfill most peoples idea of good holiday weather but without the fierce heat of the south that can render the middle of the day useless for anything other than sitting in a (preferably air-conditioned) hotel room.
Must see highlights:
Museu Picasso: On Carra Montcada the museum houses a large collection of Picasso’s work especially his rose and blue periods and the later cubist variations, and also his engravings pottery sculpture and lithograph he was a very busy man! The museum is housed in two adjoining medieval palaces.
The Rambla: A mile long walkway built over the remains of a dried up riverbed. A bi touristy but usually populated with street performers and artists. A great place for an evening promenade or an afternoon coffee at one of the many outdoor cafes, but in crowded parts keep you hands on your wallet.
Museu de Geologia: The oldest museum in Barcelona and since 1882 has been home to a large and fascinating collection of paleontology and geological exhibits go on the first Sunday of the month when admission is free.
Tibidabo: The summit of the hill Collserola arrive by the tramvia blau to la Atalaya (the old watchtower) for a stunning view of the city, also at the top are a nineteenth centuary amusement park and a mechanical museum.
Catedral: Work originally started on the construction of this beautiful gothic cathedral in 1298 on the site of a 1st centaury chapel the central spire was added as late as 1913.The elaborate and decorative chorus should not be missed.
L’Aquarium de Barcelona: Situated on the waterfront this transparent aquarium is one of the largest (if not the largest) in Europe. It has a large collection of marine life from all over the world and especially the Mediterranean. You can walk through a transparent tunnel while the sharks move menacingly above your head.
Museu Temple de la Sagrada familia: A museum dedicated to Gaudi’s great unfinished masterpiece. A wonderful opportunity to see a great work of art in construction. Take the lift up the tower to get a good overview of the scale of the project.
Barcelona people are generally friendly and helpful to tourists but don’t be surprise if your guide book Spanish are not as popular as you thought here as although the locals speak Spanish the real language is Catalan. Barcelona has all the ingredients for a good holiday. Good food, good weather, Great culture and wonderful people, A week there will always be a week well spent.