Journey of Discovery: Barcelona

By Shereen Shabnam

Every time we go to our Spanish home, we try and explore a different city and Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain has been delight for all senses from visiting cultural sites, city attractions, art venues, trying out Catalan dishes and evening tapas experiences as well as taking a cruise ship that saw us visiting a number of nearby countries.

It is a city steeped in history with so much to see, especially in the Gothic Quarter which is the oldest neighborhood of Barcelona. Here you will find medieval structures, Gaudi’s architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries, winding alleys, the Cathedral of Barcelona, plazas and Roman ruins.

After a week on a cruise ship, we spent a lot of time in Las Ramblas, a pedestrian only street lined with cafes with the best tapas and drinks, shops and a bustling vibe. We also went to the La Boqueria nearby which had some beautiful Spanish gift items and then stopped at Placa Reial, a beautiful square perfect for people watching.

One late afternoon we drove to El Born which is the most trendy and artistic part of the city and explored a few avant-garde galleries, indulged in vintage shops vintage shops and took a stroll with our daughter who loved the idea of sampling little plates of dishes at tapas outlets. Our favourite dishes were laced with olive oil and include seafood dishes, fried potatoes and Spanish omelettes stuffed in baguettes.

Spain is famous for their tapas that are meant to be snacked on but we ordered a wide range of dishes and made a meal out of it. Seafood paella in Barcelona is an absolute must try dish and so is seafood done in different styles. I always enjoyed the cold sweet Spanish coffees that seem to inject life and energy into me in between the tours.

After fuelling up on food and drinks, head to L’Eixample for some famous architectural highlights such as the La Sagrada Familia and to El Raval which has some interesting boutiques and restaurants. We were on a trail to see as many of Gaudi’s work so we explored the area of Gràcia which has great views of the city and home to Gaudí’s famous hilltop park, Parc Güell. Gaudi is Barcelona’s most famous architect whose Gothic and Art Nouveau styles made him legendary around the world. We also loved Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà.

If you are into art, head to the Picasso museum to learn about the life of one of the most influential artists in the 20th century. There are over 3,000 pieces of art and one of the biggest Picasso museums in the world.

If you have a lot of time, head to Barcelona History Museum. There are4,000 square meters of Roman ruins located beneath the city that you can walk through and learn more with an audio guide explaining the mosaics, wall frescoes and ancient documents.

Barcelona is one of those cities where you can easily spend weeks exploring. We rented a car and drove up to Cadaques to see Dali’s House – this remains of the best experiences ever even though it took a full day to get there with multiple coffee stops, tapas breaks and winding roads but it was well worth the journey.

It is best to stay the night there, get rested and explore the many attractions on the way back. It is a beautiful city with impressive architecture, charming medieval streets, amazing beaches and has something for everyone.

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