This diary is about a short trip through Catalunya on New Year. Starting in Barca, we hired a car and visited some towns and places of interest in the region discovered places, traditions and specificities of this region which is hardly similar to other regions of Spain.
It wasn't the first time i was in Barcelona, but I thought it would be good to start with a short intro to Barca for those who are planning their first trip to this gorgeous city. So, if you are in Barcelona for the first time, here's a short summary of things you should do. 1. Admire architecture Barcelona is proud if its architecture. It doesn't have one strict style for all streets and quarters like Paris does. However in all its variety it somehow manages to seem harmonic. The most famous works of architecture are those of Antonio Gaudi who you've most probably heard of, if you're headed to Barça.
Indeed, you can never stop admiring Gaudi's genius!
The design, the comfortability and beauty his solutions provided look beautiful and useful even today. The number one must see is of course the cathedral Sagrada Familia.
Having prepared the project in his older years, Gaudi knew he wouldn't see the cathedral ready before his death. In fact you can't see it ready now either. Prepare yourself not to be disappointed by the ongoing construction works. This cathedral is being build for about a century now. Its original project can be seen once you're inside the cathedral itself. Each facade of Sagrada Familia is meant to depict a part of holy Bible. The facade depicting the birth of Jesus is stunning. Some people find that there's too much and Later on the followers of Gaudi continued the work on Sagrada Familia and now you can see some cubism art at the Old Testament facade.
Gaudi's work technique was aimed at harmony and smoothness which can be found in nature, which he found his inspiration from.
Once inside Sagrada Familia you'll feel yourself as in a forest (frankly a hyper-crowded one), the huge colonnades grow up to connect to the ceiling in some sort of smooth branches, and the whole architectural technique leaves you in awe. He used original solutions to get smooth and harmonic figures, e.g. Among them as hanging things on ropes and placing mirror beneath them. You can see the models inside Sagrada. Attention: the queue to entrance is HUGE, if you want to save some time order your ticket online - there's a separate line for online reservations which really moves much faster.
1. Parc Guell
Another famous work by Gaudi is the park he created for Guell family. The park is a pleasant place to spend the morning and afternoon at. Located up the hill it provides with a spectacular view on Barcelona. While enjoying a walk in the nature you get to admire works of Gaudi and to listen to some heartwarming music by locals. The park used to be free to enter before, now, however, they divided it into two parts, one of them - the so-called zona monumentale, which is the main part with Gaudi's works, is for a charge and *attention* with a huge queue to wait.. So prepare to spend long time just waiting to enter Parc Guell, but still it's worth it, it's beautiful.
P.S. There's Gaudi's house in the park but I wouldn't recommend entering it, there's almost nothing there. If you want to admire interior design made by Gaudi, you should go to Casa Batllo.
1.2 Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo is in my opinion the most impressive place to visit for familiarizing with Gaudi's genius for both interior and exterior design. I won't be describing here every genial detail he made, just take the audio-guide and enjoy the journey. Also, by all means visit the Barrio Gotico to admire some gothique architecture, explore the quarter for yourself, there's whole lot to discover for oneself at every corner.
2. Walk at Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is Barcelona's central walking area, a big boulevard, where you can find cafes to have a glass of Sangria, souvenirs, live art, artists offering to paint a portrait of yours, floral makets and pretty much of everything you could imagine. The Ramblas extend from the port up to the Placa Catalunya. By the way placa Catalunya is where the touristic buses part from.
3. Enjoy the food
Of course once in Barcelona you should try paella - it is a traditional dish which includes rice and, depending on. The type, seafood, meat or vegetables. And by all means you should try Sangria, which is a sweet alcoholic drink made of wine with fruits. Avoid the restaurants at Ramblas - there are good for sipping Sangria and enjoying the Ramblas itself, but not for food. Try going deep into Barrio Gotico and find some restaurants there. If you are a seafood lover you should go to Port Olympico where they have nice restaurants, but mind that's a little far from centre.
the Olimpic district and Placa D'Espagna From the port you can see funiculars going up the hill - Montjuic. At Monjuic you can find the castle, the Palau Nacional serving as National Art museum of Catalonia. The Palau itself and the view from there to Barcelona is outstanding. Nearby is the Olympic district with the stadium and the Olympic symbol of theirs. Fondació Joan Miro is also situated nearby. So while planning your day, know that you are going to spend half a day there. There's green area as well, so having a walk in the park might also be included in the list.
5. Art museums
Apart from Gaudi's masterpieces there are lots of museums an art lover should visit. Among them are the museums of Dali, Picasso and Joan Miro. The museum of national art is up the hill at Montjuic.
Barca is good for shopping, there are shops almost in every street. There is an outlet village called "La Roca" near Barcelona where you can find brand outlet stores like Armani, Escada, Versace etc. It takes an hour and a half to reach there by bus. Buses to La Roca part almost every hour from Passeig de Gracia and from Carrer de Casp. You would normally find some brochures and even discount cards for La Roca shopping in your hotel. You can reserve the bus tickets online.
7. Football (of course)
If you're a football fan (and presumable not a Madridista) you might want to visit the Camp Nou - the stadium of FCB. There you can take a tour which offers you to see the stadium, see the impressive hall with the history of the football club, all their medals and trophies which seem endless. They also take you up to commentators' room. Those who have visited have been really impressed. I don't have to tell you, if you're lucky enough to be at Barca when a game is scheduled then you just have to go there, do I?
And at the end of the day if you still have energy you might want to go clubbing, after all this is Barcelona and "la gente esta muy loca" :)