One of the cities that I wanted to visit in Spain was Barcelona. It is a city well known as a design center and for its Catalan architecture. There are two official languages spoken in Barcelona: Catalan, spoken all over Catalonia, and Spanish castellano. The menus and signs are written in both languages, which makes it easier, because Catalan is quite different. Its avenues are large and there are many shopping centers, industries and universities. Moreover, we can enjoy nature, mountains, parks and beaches. Culture? A lot! Museums, galleries, art works and design is everywhere, not to mention the nightlife with a large variety of shows, nightclubs and bars. On every street, we come across examples of Gothic and Modernist architecture, on buildings and monuments, and some of Picasso's, Miró's and Gaudi's works.
We also found the Arc del Triunfo, that unlike what many may think, does not celebrate any victory. It was built for the 1888 Fair and was the event gateway. Today it has become another symbol of the city, making Barcelona even more beautiful.
Another must see attraction is the monumental unfinished church La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family). It is the most famous, ambitious and emblematic building of the city, built by Antoni Gaudí. Its construction began on 19 April 1882 with the architectural design of Francisco de Paula del Villar, but at the end of 1883, Gaudi was commissioned to continue the work. However, he died in 1926 before completing it. He was never able to see his majestic project finished. There is a playground opposite the church that offers a good place to sit and rest your legs while the children play.
Like any European city, the best way to visit Barcelona is walking around its streets. During one of these strollings we came across the Casa Milá La Pedrera, another one of Gaudí's masterpieces, which was built between 1905 and 1910 for the Milá family. It's possible to go to the rooftop and have a breathtaking view of the city. A spectacular view of Barcelona with a beautiful sunset. Wrought iron can also be seen in the form of balconies imitating vegetal shapes. Nearby, we found the Casa Batlló also Gaudí's. A stunning creation of 1875 and as inspiring as La Pedrera.
Las Ramblas is a very cool tour! It's a ¾ mile (1.2 km) avenue downtown for you to walk up and down day and night. You will see all sorts of stalls, cafés, restaurants, bars and street performers, everything happening at the same time. Including flamenco shows, we tried to watch but as we left for the last day and we could not make reservations. So, if you want to watch any, book in advance, as they are usually crowded. All we could do there was to eat a paella in one of the many restaurants scattered by the avenue. At the end of the Ramblas towards the sea, we find the statue of Columbus, America's discoverer.
Another place we recommend is the Montjuic Park which is situated on a mountain where you will be able to see the Les Arenes, an ancient arena where the Beatles played in 1966. The Fundacion Joan Miró is situated there, and nearby you will find the Palau Nacional National Museum d'Art de Catalunya. There are two accesses to the park: by the Plaça Espanya or by the west side, using the funicular or taking an air trip in Aeri del Port, the citiy cable car. We chose to go up using the cable car. Perhaps this has been the worst part of our stay in Barcelona. Not the trip itself as it was spectacular, but to find the cable car entrance was crazy business. Nobody gave us accurate information and we did not find any sign indicating how to get to the entrance. We went back and forth several times, getting exhausted trying to find it. It is close to the city Aquarium, but with an almost imperceptible entrance depending on the side of the park you are. In the end, it was worth it. The ride is beautiful and we could rest up there, having a drink and enjoying the sea view of Barcelona.
Another park I would like to highlight and which we fell in love, was the Parc de la Ciutadella. Situated in the Ciutat Vella district, the site also houses the Barcelona Zoo, the seat of the Parliament of Catalonia and the museums of Geology and Zoology. We found it unintentionally. We were walking around and we then we saw this park. Not knowing what it was, we decided to go in. What a pleasant surprise! The park is beautiful! We had a great time there. It is perfect to exercise, relax outdoors or picnic, and enjoy a wonderful landscape!
A tour that some people may find unnecessary, but that for us was a must do, was Barcelona's Camp Nou soccer stadium. As my eldest son wanted to go to Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, my youngest son wanted to visit the Camp Nou, as he is a great Barça fan. I must say that even I wanted to visit it. After all, it is home to one of the most famous soccer teams in the world. Camp Nou opened on September 24, 1957 and is in the residential district of Les Corts. With a capacity of 99,354, Camp Nou is now the biggest stadium in Europe. However, the total capacity varied over the years due to different modifications. You can see the endless collection of club trophies, as well as objects from important players in Barça's history, many of them Brazilians. We took a tour that allowed us visit the visitors' team locker room, the field, the stands of the stadium, the press booths and the pressroom. Although it is a much simpler stadium than Real Madrid's, it has an unquestionable power, after all Barcelona is "més que un club" (more than just a club). We tried to watch a Barcelona X Espanõl match, the city classic game. However, the price, to sit on a very bad place, was an absurd, especially when compared with the importance of such game for us (lol) then we gave up. We went to the stadium by subway and bought the ticket for the stadium tour at the entrance. When we left, we strolled through the mall next to the stadium and the neighborhood that is quite nice.
I would like to take the opportunity to highlight a tour, which is rather local and less touristy, the Ramblas Poblenou. It is one of the widest streets in the city and it is located in the Poblenou district, in the San Martín neighborhood. It is also known as Paseo del Triunfo and it is quite charming. Several shops, restaurants and bars scattered all over the street, which ends on a beautiful beach with a delightful promenade, where many residents walk along, ride bikes, ride skates and scooters. In the evening, it seems that all the locals go to the street and walk from one side to another, or simply stand in groups talking and laughing a lot. Cool! Barcelona way! In addition, Ramblas de Poblenou, is the beginning of Avenida Diagonal (Diagonal Avenue), one of the largest and most important avenues of Barcelona, which deserves a stroll, day and night.
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