Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just a few things to do in Barcelona

Pretty soon I will be off to Spain, well, as you're reading this, I'm already on my way actually. I love that I can leave scheduled posts to be delivered while I'm away! I have been researching a ton of information about the two cities that I will be visiting while I am there for five days (in case you forgot, those cities are Barcelona and Madrid) and here's the lowdown on what I want to see and do during my time in Barcelona!


Of course, I only REALLY have two nights and two days in Barcelona and one and a half days in Madrid and only one night, which I know means I won't see all of these things, hell, I man not seen any, but at least I know I have options and I can let you guys know what there is to see for your next visit!

Ramble down colourful La Rambla - One of the most famous boulevards in the world, La Rambla is worth a stroll down even if you only have one day in Barcelona. A gateway to rural Catalonia, the mile-long road bustles with tourists, artists, human statues, fortune-tellers, dancers and musicians. Vibrant flower stalls, a cultural and exhibition centre, the superb La Boqueria market, a Joan Miró mosaic, newspaper kiosks and cafés line the street.

Get up close to Gaudí's grand designs - In Barcelona, you can gaze in wonder at Gaudí's fairytale architecture. The Sagrada Familia is breathtaking and somewhat grotesque by turns. At first glance, it seems as though a careless giant has dripped melting wax over a Gothic cathedral, but a closer look reveals that the protuberances create a stone tapestry of Christ's life. 

Hit a high note in concert - Barcelona has its fair share of live music venues, such as Razzmatazz and Bikini, but there are also marvellous concert halls. The Gran Teatre del Liceu is said to be a splendid place, decorated by gold leaf, plush red carpets and ornate carvings. While L'Auditori is a sleek 2,400-seated venue that covers not only classical but also jazz and world music styles. The Palau de la Música Catalana is celebrated for its Modernista architecture, and sheer volume of musical activity.

Picture the city of Picasso's youth - Picasso remembered Barcelona as beautiful and bright, a city where he spent his early years. One can follow in the footsteps of the artistic genius by visiting the landmarks that shaped his youth. Strolling along the Calle Reina Christina and then cross over to number 3 Carrer de la Mercè to see where his family actually lived. The building was later destroyed but you can still see the location. Then, head straight to the Museu Picasso, a gallery that records Picasso's formative years.

Pick up a platter at a pintxo bar - Picking on pintxos, platters of bite-sized food served on bread, is a popular culinary trend in Barcelona. Tradition calls for you to pick at the food with toothpicks, and at the end of the night you will be charged for the number of toothpicks that you have used.

Climb up the magical Montjuïic - Montjuïic is perfect for a leafy stroll with great views, but hard to reach so it is less populated by tourists, naturally. Scattered across the landward side are buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games, including Santiago Calatrava's Olympic needle, while facing the sea is the lighthouse and vast cemetery.

Walk on the artsy side - In Barcelona, a walk in the park is not just a relaxing experience but an artistic journey as well. Stroll round the leafy gardens of the Teatre Grec and then head to the Fundació Joan Miró, some might even argue that it is one of the greatest museums in the world. It's home to a collection of over 225 paintings, 150 sculptures and graphic pieces by the Spanish surrealist artist, along with a number of works by his contemporaries.

Revel in the Raval - Like Paris, Barcelona has a literary flavor. In this city, many writers have been inspired by the lower Raval, generally referred to as the Barrio Chino, a name coined by an American journalist due to its underworld feel in the 1920s. Haunted by drifters and prostitutes, the seedy ghetto forms a strangely glamorous setting for Jean Genet's existential novel The Thief's Journal (1949) and provides the backdrop for the civil war novel The Palace (1962) by Nobel prize-winner Claude Simon and The Margin by André Pieyre de Mandiargues (1967), which was made into a film.

Be a photographer - Barcelona is a picturesque place, so even if you're new to the art of photography, the city still manages to look good. Some scenes, of course, are more photogenic than others.

Chow down on fresh seafood - No one leaves Barcelona without sucking on an oyster, well except me maybe.

Perfect your path to heaven - Even if you're not the religious sort, you should visit the magnificent churches of Barcelona. The Sant Pau del Camp is a rare example of Romanesque architecture, with a fantastical façade and extraordinary cloister. The graceful basilica of the Santa Maria del Mar is perhaps the best surviving example of Catalan Gothic, and makes a great place to go for a classical concert. And the holy architecture of Sagrada Familia will lift your heart to the heavens. Take your time to explore these beautiful buildings, you might even become a believer.

(Re)discover your sweet tooth - Barcelona is the perfect place to indulge in sweet treats. You'll be spoiled with choices with the city's selection of confectionery shops.

Marvel at Modernista architecture - Barcelona's love of Modernista has been a passionate affair and the evidence is scattered across the city. In the Dreta area of Eixample, there are some masterpieces. The fairest of them is Gaudí's luminous Casa Batlló, built for a textile tycoon. 

Fill your suitcase with local threads - Style comes with all kinds of price tags in Barcelona.

Visit the gay heart of the city - If Barcelona wanted a gay capital, it would most certainly pick the Eixample, nicknamed Gaixample for the sheer number of stores and clubs that cater to this clientele.

Dance your way to a street party - How long can you party non-stop? A week? Then September is a good time to visit, because the Festes de la Mercèe swings into town. It started as a small religious parade but since then it has snowballed into a week-long party celebrating Catalan culture.

Sip a cocktail on a terrace - The best place to get a chilled fruit sangria in Barcelona is one of the many outdoor bars and cafés. And why would you drink anything else while in Barcelona?

Bag some designer bargains - If you’re a dedicated designer bargain-hunter, like I am, make the 30-minute pilgrimage just outside the city to La Roca Village. More than 50 discount outlets will tempt you with designer apparel from popular brands such as Antonio Miró, Versace, Diesel and Camper.

Have a passionate flamenco fling - A trip to Barcelona calls for a fling with flamenco. Of course, many of us are not graced with dancing skills, but that doesn't stop you being a spectator of the traditional Spanish dance form.

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