I often brag about the many years of experience the agents in my office have and how great they are as resources. Today’s blog comes to us straight from one of the women in my office. Sharon has travelled extensively and has such great insights about the places she’s been! Thank you for sharing with us Sharon!
BARCELONA –ONE OF MY FAVORITE CITIES
By Sharon Chandler
My friend Gail & I decided to cruise the Mediterranean to Malta, Spain, France and Italy last summer with an embarkation point out of Barcelona, Spain. As I always suggest to my guests who need to fly to meet their cruise ship, it pays to arrive a day early (and stay two days after the cruise is over) to really get a taste of the city and its culture. Barcelona – What an incredible city! We stayed at the magnificent Condessa De Barcelona hotel on the Passeig de Gracia in the center of town. That’s the street I named the Pucci, Lucci, Gucci Street of Barcelona because of the beautiful upscale boutiques. Next door to our hotel was a Tapas Restaurant that had outdoor seating & served the best gazpacho soup I have ever tasted. I learned the hard way that there is an extra surcharge to sit outside under the umbrellas, but it was well worth it for we could watch the world go by.
With time being of the essence, we utilized the city’s Hop-on, Hop-off double decker tour bus, which has three different tour routes to explore the city with 44 stops to choose from. North and South Routes take two hours each, and the Forum route was 40 minutes, for a total cost of approximately 22 Euros per person for the entire day (May 2012).
1. The official name of “La Sagrada Familia” church is “Templo Expiatorio Familia”. This is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona and a must see. This magnificent structure was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi and is the only cathedral in the world still under construction. It is expected to be finished in 2026 to coincide with the 100th year of Gaudi’s death in 1926. Donations are the only source of income to complete the structure which is why it is taking so long. George Orwell, the British author, called it the “ugliest building on earth”, but most people love it, including me.
2. The Magic Fountains of Montjuic is a dazzling spectacle of water, light and music that was built for the 1929 World’s Fair and Universal Exposition, with an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually. There are water and light shows in the evening.
3. The Ruiz-Picasso family of Pablo Picasso lived in Barcelona from 1895 to 1904 after they moved to Barcelona from Malaga, where Pablo Picasso was born. Picasso’s father was an art teacher, and Pablo Picasso had already started his art studies in Malaga, but it was in Barcelona that he first exhibited his work. The Picasso Museum does not have any of his most famous paintings, but has several of his early sketches and lesser known works, which are a pleasure to view. The museum is housed in several magnificent gothic mansions in the old medieval part of the city called El Born.
4. “La Rambla” is a pedestrian walking street which was five blocks from our hotel. It starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the Monument of Columbus at the Port Vell Harbor of Barcelona. It is not a spectacular sight, but very pleasant to stroll down and enjoy the human heartbeat of Barcelona. Mimes, flower vendors, birds in bird cages, newspaper stands and restaurants line the street. If you have not strolled down it, you cannot say you have been to Barcelona.
5. Watching a game at Camp Nou Stadium is a once in a lifetime experience.
6. Barrio Gotica (Gothic ) area is in the old city of Barcelona which was built on and around the old Roman town of Barcino. This part of the city is an attraction in itself with many churches, plazas, markets and museums. You can see parts of the old Roman walls and below the City History Museum, the remains of Roman houses and streets of Barcino.
7. Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original plan for Parc Guell was to build a private and exclusive residential garden city with 60 houses on the grounds. The plan failed due to lack of interest, and in 1923 Gaudi’s patron, Count Eusebi Guell donated the site to the council and it became the public park we can all marvel at today. A must see.
8. Famous Modernist Buildings on Passeig de Gracia are all on the same block. Casa Amatiler designed by Josep Cadafalch, Casa Batilo by Gaudi, and Casa Lleo-Morera by Gaudi are called “Illa de la Discordia” or Block of Discord. A little way up the street you will find another modernist masterpiece by Gaudi called Casa Mila and nicknamed La Pedrera (The Quarry”). Check out the Gaudi chimneys.
9. Poble Espanyol Village on Montjuic was built in 1929 for the Worlds Fair. The Spanish Village was an architectural experiment to create the “ideal” model for a village which would represent popular Spanish architecture. Due to popular demand it was left intact after the exhibition. It now houses a variety of cafes, night clubs, restaurants, over 40 craft workshops and a program of concerts and events especially in the summer.
10. Tibadabo Hill and Amusement Park is great for kids. The views are fantastic and there is a small amusement park on the top. You can reach the top by using a vintage tram or a mountain railway. This is a great way to spend a few hours for family fun.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY SIGHTSEEING BARCELONA AS MUCH AS WE DID !!!!