Summer Sun, the Mediterranean Sea, the beach, fajitas, geometry, and a state of constant Fiesta, these are the things I think about first when I remember my trip to the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona.
This city gave me a glimpse of how life should be lived every day by everyone and I'm not exaggerating one bit! These people absolutely love life and they show it 24/7, everywhere. I've never been to a place where people would start an ad hoc fiesta in the middle of the street and where complete strangers would join in, dancing together, and having a great time for 15 minutes, and after that, everyone would see about their business as if nothing had just happened. That's just crazy, but I loved it!
I think that's the most remarkable thing I've experienced in Barcelona, but it's far from being the only wonderful thing there.
In terms of architecture and city planning, Barcelona is a one of a kind marvel of the World. Have you seen photos of the city taken from above? I was amazed when I saw the perfect geometry of the streets and buildings. Another thing I loved was that the buildings had their corners “shaved off”, so there would always be a small plaza on their sides where you would find all sorts of terraces. Fascinatingly practical and a true wonder for me on why more cities didn't adopt that style!?
Then, you have the creations of Antoni Gaudi, the legendary architect and city planner that not even modern architects can copy, nor can they understand his work completely, even with the most advanced software used in the field. I think he was simply a genius and his designs speak to enforce that statement. He had a unique way of combining elements from nature and transpose them into live constructions, thus making sure his legacy would continue to breathe long after his passing.
Just to be clear, Gaudi's work in Barcelona is so important that, if by a diabolical miracle, one visits the city and doesn't see his work, one cannot say he has been to Barcelona in the first place!
He is the author of some of the most famous structures worldwide: Casa Milá, Parc Güell (my personal favourite), Colonia Güell, Casa Batlló, Cascada Fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella (a sublime musical and aquatic spectacle which I endorse fully), and, the great and most well known, still-under-construction building in the World, La Sagrada Familia.
Being built by Carthaginian, Hamilcar Barca, the father of the renowned military leader, Hannibal, Barca has a lot of history on its side and the people there are proud of it. Spain's second-biggest city, right after The Capital, Madrid, is one of the biggest tourist attractions worldwide.
It has everything you would want to see. From the aforementioned architectural wonders to historical sites, like Port Vell and the Fort on top of Hill Montjuic. More modern places to go include the Aquarium, one of the biggest I have ever seen, the Botanic Gardens and, last, but not least, Camp Nou Stadium. There is also the Olympic Stadium and Tibidabo Hill, where there is a theme park, but, unfortunately, I didn't get to see those last two.
One negative aspect of Barca is that even I, a tourist, though there were way too many tourists to enjoy the city in its full splendour. There were always so many people everywhere, especially at the entrances of tourist attractions. But, I managed to see Les Rambles empty, at about 4 or 5 AM, but it was totally worth it. The image of the grand boulevard taking you to the Statue of Columbus, pointing towards the Mediterranean Sea is fascinating. The promise of true adventure lies in his fingertip and makes you want to set off and discover a brand New World.
Walk around the medieval Old Town and travel in time with the stories and legends from the past. See the most important monuments of the Gothic quarter. At the end of your trip, relax with a glass of Sangria in the Boqueria Market.