All through my trip so far, most people I’ve met have told me that I had to go to Barcelona. I can absolutely see why I kept hearing that no matter who I talked to, it’s a great city with something for everyone. Beautiful weather, lots of interesting architecture including the Sagrada Familia, nice beaches, great nightlife and tonnes of shops and places to eat.
Upon arriving in Barcelona I set out to wander around the hostel and found myself on La Rambla, which is undoubtedly the big tourist street running from downtown to the sea. The main street is chock full of people and blanket salesman, but as soon as you pick a random side street to wander down you can find some cool little shops and squares. There’s an indoor square not far along it which contains the Boqueria Market, where I’ve stopped several times to get fresh fruit or something to snack on.
I spent a whole day down around the port and Barceloneta beach, which just so happened to be the hottest day so far. I didn’t really like the part of the beach close to the port, stoney sand and people coming up to you every couple of minutes trying to sell you stuff or give you a massage. Even had to push a particularly stubborn lady away who was insistent that I needed a foot massage. But after I grabbed some lunch I walked further north and found a much better spot on the beach where the sand was a lot nicer and the number of salesman was drastically reduced. So I spent a nice afternoon lying on the beach watching the jets fly overhead and relaxing.
Another day was spent at the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, the two biggest attractions in the city. Both places are pretty remarkable in their design and construction, Gaudi really did have quite the talent for this stuff. The inside of the Sagrada Familia is nothing short of stunning, huge pillars sprout up from the ground like trees into the abstractly designed ceiling. While stained glass windows line the walls of the main chapel, bathing the whole place in a multitude of different hues. In one of the adjoining rooms there is a collection of natural elements which inspired Gaudi while he was designing it, it’s great to walk through the interior and look for these designs on the walls and ceilings.
Park Guell is a different kind of place, originally conceived to be a private community for the rich, the project was abandoned and only two houses were actually built. It still contains the same natural shapes and modernistic elements similar to the Sagrada Familia, but spread out over a bigger area and combined with the nature of the park. Some very cool designs throughout the monumental zone, and the map you are given upon entry tells you about what each area was originally going to be used for. Interesting to imagine how this place would have looked if the project had of been successful.
As I wandered through the hills around Park Guell, I found a little bakery and grabbed some pastries and fruit for lunch. I was sitting on a bench looking out over the city when I realized that there was some sort of structure further up from me at the top of the hill. Curiosity won out in the battle against my sore feet and I clambered the rest of the way up the hill (or mountain) to the top, and what I saw from up there took my breath away. I had stumbled upon the Bunkers del Carmel, a quite unknown attraction which offers amazing panoramic views over the whole of Barcelona. Sitting up on top of the bunkers with just a handful of other people was a truly unique experience.