The beauty of Barcelona – The Portugal News

Barcelona has always been on my wish list. I think you’ll agree, it’s just one of those must-see places.

Our first Catalan day began in the mist-shrouded foothills of the Pyrenees; we had come from France. Our day started with one of those pristine mornings. He arrived draped in a fabulously decorated silk gown, studded with billions of pearly dewdrops that sparkled in the first light. Precious moisture is carried on the silk drapes of nature to kiss the grain and swell the grapes on the vine. But the strong spring sun soon starts working in these southern climates, giving us a Catalan day to wave the flag as we make our way into the beating heart of Barcelona.

We were soon in the center of the Catalan capital, safely parked near our hotel, just off Las Ramblas. This is the ancestral home of a multitude of wonderful national treasures such as Joan Miró, Salvador Dalì, José Carreras, delicious sausages, heavenly mountain cheeses, Romanesque architecture, picturesque churches, grandiose cathedrals and magnificent wines. I stop here because there are simply too many superlatives to list.

Independent souls

Just like Basques, Catalans are fiercely independent souls and are truly terribly proud of their unique and colorful culture. So much so that a growing number of Catalans are snooping around in the rest of Spain. There is certainly a distinctly unique vibe to this region, not least due to its proximity to France.

Catalonia is famous for its many vineyards from which distinctly fresh and fruity grapes are grown and used to produce Cava. This refreshing and sparkling delight is, of course, a wine produced with the Champagne method. But unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t just for the palates of the rich and famous, it’s drunk by everyone, including yours.

Art and culture

Of course Barcelona is particularly renowned for its abundance of art, culture and architecture. Last but not least, the fantastic architectural creation that became the famous basilica of the Sagrada Família. This, along with other modernist monuments designed by Antoni Gaudí, dot this great city. Gaudi was said to be well ahead of his time and many would argue that he anticipated the entire Art Nouveau movement by at least ten years. Another great Catalan visionary, Salvador Dali, declared that Gaudi’s architecture seemed almost edible, a bit like huge but delicately decorated wedding cakes.

As a young man, Antoni Gaudi was said to be a bit of a rebel. He was very critical of the church, had a fondness for the worldly life and had the appearance of a dandy. Paradoxically, in the following years Gaudí devoted his time to his art, religion and even chose to lead a Spartan existence despite being a man of considerable means. Gaudi never married and was tragically killed by a tram. But he certainly left a beautiful and lasting legacy that can, even today, be admired and enjoyed in the lively arena that is today’s Barcelona.

For those who like to follow the guides there is no shortage of other interesting cultural and artistic attractions in Barcelona. There is the Museu Picasso and the Fundació Joan Miró which feature modern art from their namesake. The city’s history museum includes several Roman archaeological sites, so the heritage of this magnificent metropolis can be traced back several millennia.

The Ramblas

For those who might prefer to follow their nose and smell wings of great food and wine instead of moldy old paintings, there is no better starting point than Las Ramblas. This is the famous tree-lined pedestrian street in the center of Barcelona. It stretches for just over 1.2 kilometers connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the center with the imposing Christopher Columbus Monument in Port Vell. La Rambla also marks the border between the Barri Gòtic area to the east and El Raval to the west. Along its length you will find newspaper kiosks that double as souvenir shops. Others sell fresh flowers. There are street traders, artists, pavement cafes and bars which add to the drama and charm. There are a number of noteworthy sights in the surrounding area, including a mosaic by Joan Miró and the Font de Canaletes, a popular meeting point.

As we were close to Las Ramblas, all key areas of the city were easily accessible on foot. Shanks’ Pony is absolutely the best way to explore because Barcelona is certainly not an environment where motoring could ever be described as enjoyable, especially when it comes to parking.

However, pedestrians should beware of rogue e-scooter riders (of which there are many). Now, I hate being a boring old funny sponge, but these things are really fast becoming the bane of our lives. I’m sure e-scooters play an important role in modern city life, but excuse me if I assume the sidewalks and pedestrian zones were intended for pedestrian use only? By definition, do we surely cease to be “pedestrians” if we resort to a means of propulsion other than that provided by our own legs? So why can these people zoom with AT SPEED on pavements and pedestrian areas. Surely, the dangers are obvious? Inveigh.

Markets

No large Iberian city would be complete without a decent fresh market. Barcelona is certainly no exception. The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (often referred to simply as La Boqueria) is a large covered public market in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood of the city. Don’t panic folks as there is a comfortable and cheerful entrance directly on La Rambla so it’s perfectly easy to find.

Once found, the market is a great place to indulge in some good old fashioned, as the whole place is filled with all sorts of fine and often unusual handcrafted goods. It is also an absolute Mecca for those who religiously greet the great gods of tapas. Bread, fish and a whole host of other ingredients are transformed routinely and even miraculously into lunch for 5,000! Of course, it will be washed down with a glass or three of locally produced wine or some ice cold beer. What could be better in this lively but delightfully convivial atmosphere where everyone simply indulges while indulging their collective love of great food. And thank God for that. Amen.

The charming Gothic Quarter (or Barri Gòtic), with its many medieval cobbled streets, is lined with trendy Catalan bars, nightclubs and restaurants. These road structures elegantly descend towards the beautiful Barcelona waterfront area, where there is access to the beaches. Along the way, why not check out the many stalls where artisans sell leather goods, trinkets and jewelery near the Barcelona Cathedral. The Plaça del Pi, named after the adjacent Gothic church, hosts a lively art market and antiques fair every weekend.

Our days in Barcelona inevitably ended near Las Ramblas and our hotel. From there, we regularly “rambled” our way in search of evening refreshments. We enjoyed visiting the nearby Plaça Reial (Royal Square) with its ornamental palm trees, beautiful arches, delightful balconies and ornate colonnades. Each evening comes to life becoming a beautifully illuminated foodie’s paradise with a wonderful choice of fine restaurants. So, it’s from below! Time to look into another menu.