THE KEY TO BARCELONA – GETTING THE SENSE OF THE CITY IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS
September 14, 2016
by Nadya Tsymbal
THE KEY TO BARCELONA – GETTING THE SENSE OF THE CITY IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS: PART 1, TASTE
Hearing this name of the Spanish city, travellers associate it immediately with the works of Gaudi. This is 100% true and worth seeing. Last week we travelled to Barcelona twice while our main whereabouts was a cosy seaside town of Malgrat de Mar. On the first occasion I introduced my favorite city to my beloved husband who was there for the first time. In 2012 I’ve already stayed for a week in Barcelona and having tasted it once, longed all these years to return.
We took a morning train and in an hour and a half came out of the Barcelona underground:
-Have you seen what’s behind your back? Turn around!
Well yes, the sight of La Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of the Holy Family has a definite WOW-effect. This year it is under heavy construction – back to 2012 not so much façade and inside areas where covered and closed for general entrance. Being at the tickets office around 11:00 am, we could purchase admissions only for 5:00 pm and at 6 pm the sight closes for tourists.
After making series of pictures with the Cathedral in the background we decide to explore Barcelona on foot. Our route with the final destination for a grab-some-snack at La Boqueria market can be found among the attached pictures.
Walking along the Barcelona’s streets is a pure pleasure on itself for those who are fond of architecture and design. Almost every house will arise interest and desire to make a picture or selfie. We targted La Pedrera as our first major attraction. However, on our short 20min-walk to it from La Sagrada, we could not stop but admiring the style of Barcelona. The unexpected discovery was Casa de les Punxes or as it can be translated a Thorny House with flowers braided all over its facade. I could imagine that Rapunzel lived there with a Prince so magically unusual is the building’s exterior.
Gaudi is everywhere
Going in the downtown direction along the Passeig de Gracia, we continued our acquaintance with Gaudi: the waves-facade as if carved out of stone is La Pedrera’s feature (also called Casa Mila); the balconies in the form of carnival masks and varicolored mosaic distinguishe Casa Batllo. Next door to it there are not less beautiful in their architecture Casa Ametller, Casa Lleó Morera, and Casa Bonaventura Ferrer among many other gorgeous sights manifesting the beauty of Spanish mix of baroque, Art Nouveau, and modernism. Another peculiar feature of Passeig de Gracia are decorative forged street lamps also designed by Gaudi. Walking under the bending-down metal lianas is a truly romantic thing when the lights are on at night. Passeig de Gracia is also remarkably known for expensive shopping at world fashion brand boutiques and stores, staying in the most luxurious and status hotels in Spain, eating in great gourmet restaurants. Walking there gets you to soak the atmosphere of chic and art. The final point of the marvelous architecture in the Passeig is Casa Rocamora with orange glossy tiled roof and then we reached the Catalunya Square with its fresh air of the fountains, shade from the trees, beautiful lawn and flowerbeds. A couple of minutes enjoying the city hustle and bustle in addition to the pigeons feeding – these birdies are the local attraction and a fun thing – are followed by the main tourist street in Barcelona, La Rambla!
Barcelona’s touristic thoroughfare
All tourist guides will tell you to be very careful and watch your personal belongings as this street is full of pickpockets and thieves. Despite this universal advice, I would stress more on – enjoy walking along La Ramba, take the time to appreciate its old historic beauty as behind every wall there is a story: Hotel 1898 (used to be a home for seminary, when in 1881 it was rebuilt in to the family home of Antonio Lopez y Lopez whose name is closely connected with the businesses of the Transatlantic company), hotel Oriente (a 17th-century theological and philosophical college that in the first half of the 19th century was turned into the hotel), Church of Bethlehem (the only remnant of the Jesuit University of Barcelona), Palau Guell, Theatre Liceu and actually all the other buildings situating there. Our lunch stop was at Boqueria Market.
A place to taste Barcelona
This is the main attraction my husband was very excited about, in addition to Gaudi’s works, of course. This open-air roofed marketplace is also known as St. Josep with its long history going back to 1200. Nowadays, its counters offer exotic and local fruits and vegetables, fish, meat; well, all the products that can present you with the unforgettable taste of Spain and Barcelona. #1 Must-drink is a cool fruit juice. This time we discovered for ourselves two favorite tastes: coconut with guava and coconut with pitaya. Each delicious and refreshing drink costs one euro only. #2 Must-eat is a mix of jamon, salami, young cheese slices – 2 packages for 5 euro. And finally, #3 Must-enjoy is a mix of fresh seafood cooked on the spot for you served with white local wine. Just watch us! From the number of pictures taken at La Boqueria it is clear that this place became a key to a tasty Barcelona.
Walking further in the sea direction along La Rambla you’ll get amazed by the mastery of the local mimes. My husband bet that there was a metal statue of Gaudi in front of him. Well, he lost: as a coin hit to the bottom of the mime’s box the statue moved and greeted my beloved. That was very funny!
The next sight is Columbus Monument. As you reach the colon with the statue of the America’s discover on the top of it, you also see a modern port with the mall and comfortable pier where you can sit, relax, feed the sea gulls and finish the rest of the snack from La Boqueria. After such a wonderful peaceful minute by the sea we continued our walking tour along the Passeig de Colum and then crossed it to get to the Gothic quarter (Barri Gothic). In the tangle of narrow medieval streets my favorite place there is the square at the Basilica de la Merce. You could recognize its sight in the opening scenes of the movie Perfume: the Story of a Murderer where a French medieval market is depicted. I really enjoy sitting by the fountain looking at the Cathedral – it is so peaceful there. It seems to be a quieter place than at the Cathedral de Barcelona which is a 10-15minute-stroll away. We are heading in the direction of La Sagrada Familia, our main plan for the day, though I leave it for the Part 2, VISION.