I first visited Barcelona when I was ten years old. I admit at the age of ten much of its charm impressed me very little. I was more interested in the giant strawberry sundae with sparkler my Uncle bought me at a local Spanish bar… Since then, thankfully, my tastes have developed a little (although I am still rather partialled to ice cream sundae´s) and I love the charm of creative architecture, most especially the works of Antoni Gaudi; the figure-head of Catalan Modernism. His style is distinctive and expressive, and I firmly believe reflects his own passions.
I am planning a trip to Barcelona for early next year and am hoping to spend my time in a lovely hotel like here. In the meantime I have been compiling a list of things I would like to do whilst there – and believe it may be of use to other potential visitors to Barcelona.
1. Ramble along La Rambla
There was never a more apt boulevard than La Rambla in Barcelona – a perfect gateway to rural Catalonia and its treasures. A mile of vibrant flower stalls, a cultural and exhibition centres, the superb La Boqueria market, a Joan Miró mosaic, newspaper kiosks and countless array of little spanish cafe´s which charge a premium simply for the delightful pass time of allowing you a perfect opportunity for people watching…
Its not possible to visit Barcelona without seeing at least one of his works. Aged ten I considered it grotesque, now I consider it art. The Sagrada Familia, I still believe, is breathtaking and grotesque , in almost equal measure. But Park Güell is a magical place that emulates an English garden city – a delight in such a city. The gatehouses, based on designs for the opera Hansel and Gretel, are magnificant – after which you can walk up a splendid staircase, past a mosaic lizard to what once was a marketplace. Outside, you can then climb to the heights of the park where you are rewarded one of the best views of the city.
3. Embrace Picasso
Spain has produced some of my most favourite artists – granted I adore the works of Salvador Dali the most, but Picasso´s works are wonderful and a trip round the city which inspired him should never be missed. Follow in the footsteps of Picasso by visiting the landmarks that shaped his youth – take a stroll along the Calle Reina Christina and then cross over to 3 Carrer de la Mercè to see where his family lived (though the building has been destroyed). Visit the Museu Picasso, a gallery that records Picasso’s formative years.
4. Snacks on pintxo
If you love tapas then you simply have to try pintxos, platters of bite-sized food served on bread (a Basque version of tapas), which are extremely popular in the city of Barcelona. Many bars follow the tradition of paying by the number of toothpicks – 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!
5. Magical Montjuïic
Hard to reach, but so worthwhile since its fairly rare for tourists to venture here, which is nice. Scattered across the landward side are buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games amongst others. Its a great leafy stroll with some fabulous views.
6. Try authentic Catalan cuisine
At ten years old I had been raised to be open minded about food so, even then, was particularly adventurous. Some of my fondest culinary experiences were in these areas of Spain and so it will be fabulous to go back and try these same dishes as an adult! Escudellla, Esqueixada, Fideuas and Suquet de Peix are all dishes I recommend trying when in this region.
7. Marvel at the Modernista architecture
Barcelona´s love of Modernista architecture can be seen all over the city – from the Dreta area of Eixample where you can find Gaudí’s luminous Casa Batlló to the shiny Casa Amatller by Puig i Cadafalch, and the decadent Casa Lleó Morera by Domènech i Muntaner. Nearby, you’ll can also find the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, whose city gardens offer a pleasant oasis amid this very bustling city.