As the daughter of an architect, I grew up hearing about Barcelona: the super successful revitalization of the city and its development plan because of the 1992 Olympics that everyone uses as example, plus the unusual works of Gaudí are facts that I’ve known since childhood. But ironically the first time I visited Spain in 2002 I didn’t go to the Catalan city and my father only got to personally explore all that he knew from the books last year in 2010. Besides Barcelona, he visited other cities in Europe, but came back saying that nothing compares to Barcelona. And I thought: Of course, it must be like an amusement park for him! Until this year that I had the opportunity to return to the Spanish country and made sure not to leave the famous Barça out.
I had already been in the regions of Madrid, Andalusia and Extremadura. When I arrived in Barcelona, in the Catalan region, in a way I didn’t feel I was in Spain. The strong nationalist spirit is easily felt and perceived. All road signs, for example, are in Catalan and not Spanish. Moreover, it seems to be the most European city in Spain: super cosmopolitan, there are people from all over the places.
However, the diversity is not only on the various faces and languages that you hear when walking. Barcelona has numerous attractions for all tastes! A little antiquity appreciated in the Gothic quarter and Roman ruins. A lot of art and of so many styles … the city looks more like an open air museum with its parks, buildings, houses, streets and churches that always present some artistic and decorative element. There are many events and many stores in each neighborhood you visit. And to all this that makes it worthy of being called a major metropolis, it is added the Mediterranean climate with its beaches, sporting venues and little fairs. I also have to mention the Barcelona soccer team, the greatest champion over the last decade, that adds value to the city as well.
As a tourist, I love walking by the places and realize myself walking in the midst of people (visitors like me and residents). But unfortunately my days in Barcelona were super short and so I tried one of those tour buses. There was much to be seen and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy much if I just rode public transport (especially considering the neighborhood – and mountain – Montjuic, where many attractions are). Therefore, I suggest doing so in case of a quick passage through the city. For € 20.70 you can go up and down the bus as many times as you want and the waiting time at the bus stop is no more than 7 minutes. In addition, there is an audio guide that provides information in many languages about all the places you pass by.
Despite being the most expensive city I visited in Spain, the subway surprises and gives the option of buying a travel pass with 10 rides for € 7.95.
I leave you with three links of great informational sites about the city. The first one is the official tourism agency of Barcelona. The second is TripAdvisor, my favorite travel site. And the third one, stay.com, where you can assemble your own itinerary and then download it as a PDF.
And the conclusion? My father was right … Barcelona is unique! 😉