Barcelona, Spain

About Barcelona

Set against a backdrop of culture and history, Barcelona has emerged as Spain’s most cosmopolitan city. Its glorious Gothic architecture, medieval style layout and fascination with art portray only one side of the city. This city is a year-round holiday destination. Ideal weather ensures the beaches are always buzzing, the markets are always bustling, and the avant-garde chefs always have plenty of mouths to feed. A city of pleasures, whether you’re there for the sights, the cuisine, the culture or the beaches, the pulse of this city guarantees a good time.

Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities, Catalonia being one of them. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and one of its four provinces. It is the second most populous city in Spain after Madrid, and one of the Mediterranean’s busiest ports.

Home to legendary architect Antoni Gaudi, much of the city’s landscaping reflects his typical charming style. The city was also home to Picasso for a while and showcases much of his work. Legendary football team, FC Barcelona, calls this city home as well, and has a museum dedicated to them.

Places to See and Things to Do

Barcelona: Gothic Quarters

This article is written by Shantanu Ghosh.

One of the charms of Europe is its well-preserved history. Being a history buff, I love ambling through those narrow, cobble-stoned alleys, trying to visualize how these old towns and city-square must have looked during their prime. I had spent the better part of a day traipsing through Gaudi’s unconventional buildings and monuments; and then on the last day here, I discovered the more familiar Gothic architecture in Barri Gotic. Barri Gotic is the center of what used to be the old city of Barcelona, with several buildings and churches dating back to the Roman empire. The most famous landmark here is the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia.

The Cathedral is large, impressive and still a functioning church. As the story goes, Saint Eulalia was actually a very young girl, they say thirteen, when she was killed by Roman soldiers in a barbaric manner. Another reminder of how much blood has been spilt in the name of religion over the ages. Apparently after several rounds of torture, she was stripped, put in a barrel with knives stuck into it, and then rolled down a street. The cloister within the walls of the cathedral still has thirteen white geese to remind people of her age when she was martyred.

We took a tiny elevator to the top of the cathedral to get a panoramic view of the surroundings before strolling down the alleys with their quaint little shops. Masks, antiques, clothing, jewellery, pastries and legs of Iberian ham jostled for attention. Sunlight barely entered these narrow alleys until we reached Plaça Reial, a square with several open air cafes.

Plaça Reial

After glasses of Sangria we continued on looking for a place to have lunch. We finally decided to try a tiny place called Meson Jesus. This family-run restaurant was exactly what we were looking for. We could see the owner busy chopping greens one one side, while red checkered table-cloth added color to the cosy little room filled with old artifacts. The menu was fixed but the food excellent. By the time we got done, the place was filled with locals – not one tourist in sight.

I started with chilled gazpacho which was so good! The main course was sausage with chips followed by a delicious dessert of Catalan Creme, a local version of Creme Brulee. The house wine and bread were pretty good too. Dare I say perfect? If you are in the Gotic area at lunch time, do try. Meson Jesus is located at C/ Cecs de la Boqueria, 4, 08002 Barcelona.

The spices and fruits reminded me it was the Spanish who brought so many of today’s staples into the rest of the world when they accidentally discovered the Americas. They went hunting for black pepper and nutmug but came back with chilli peppers, vanilla beans and tomatoes!

Shantanu Ghosh

29 Oct 2011

http://www.shantanughosh.com/2011/10/barcelona-gothic-quarters.html

In Catalan Country

This article is written by Shantanu Ghosh.

I almost did not make it to Barcelona. The Spanish consulate insisted they needed more time to process my visa – something I did not have since I was flying out that weekend to the USA. Just when I had given up, they handed me my passport with the visa – one day before my flight. And what a trip it has been!


I flew into Barcelona on a Lufthansa flight late in the night. By the time I had checked in and taken a shower, it was close to midnight and I was thinking of ordering room service. But then I looked out of the window. Down below I could see cafes open and packed with people. It seemed too good to pass up. During the week I spent here, I would discover several uniquely delightful things about Barcelona, including the fact that dinners begin late and continue well past midnight!

This was my very first trip to Spain and the first discovery I made was Barcelona wasn’t Spanish speaking! The local language, Catalan, is very distinct and shares a few words with French. My limo driver, a young man from Valencia, gave me some quick facts about the city. While the city has a population of about 1.5 million people, the cruise ships bring in almost the same number of tourists every year. As he put it, Barcelona is the Bahamas of Europe.

I took a table outdoors surrounded by tourists and locals who had come out of the nearby shopping mall to grab some dinner. A cool breeze blew from the ocean nearby. I ordered their red house wine, a selection of Iberian ham and a seafood paella.

The Hilton on Diagonal Mar turned out to an excellent choice. While the location is not central, it is right on the oceanside and has easy access to the Metro station. The large shopping mall opposite the hotel also provides several small tapas places for a quick bite. My room was airy and comfortable with panoramic views of the city and the ocean. The lounge on the executive floor is another nice location to work or laze around with the sea-breeze blowing on the open terrace.

I found a good amount of time to do the tourist routine here. While Barcelona has many attractions – history, architecture, food and wine – one needs to be aware of the seamier side of this lovely city. With unemployment rampant, criminal activities are on the rise. Be wary of pickpockets – there are several incidents of mugging and thefts, especially in crowded areas. If you are in the wrong side of La Rambla in the late evenings, you may be accosted by pimps, prostitutes or drug peddlers openly. To be fair, I haven’t heard of violent crime involving tourists.

Shantanu Ghosh

2 Oct 2011

http://www.shantanughosh.com/2011/10/in-catalan-country.html

Trip to Barcelona

This article is written by Sathish K, a Software Professional and travel writer, based in Bangalore

Lufthansa provides you of choosing one place to fly when one flies down to Germany from India. I think the same facility is there for other areas though am not sure. But you need to pay for Airport Tax.
So we chose to fly to Barcelona last weekend (29th & 30th October 2005). We took the 10:00hrs flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona. Its close to 2hrs journey. At Barcelona airport there is a huge statue of a bull probably to symbolise their love for the sport, bull fighting.

On the beaches if one is not aware of the culture in the West and know only the Indian sub-continent culture, hes in for a shock. Since this is not my first trip to Europe I was accustomed to these. People in the beach take a swim and change there itself instead of looking for a room. People take oil massage and get into sunbath mode.

After covering all the beaches on the side we went back to the hostel. It was almost dark by the time we came out of the beach. Of course we did not take a dip in the water.
We bought few souveniers as a rememberance and finished our dinner and made some enquiries and again started walking up and down. Life is active only in the night, there are lots of discotheques with no entry fees and being with guys is a problem one cannot go into these. There are some where one can enter after paying about 15Euros. We walked up and down and up and down and by the time we thought of going back it was 4:30 in the morning!!
On sunday we took our bags after breakfast and took the metro to look at the Olympic stadium and water fountain which we missed the earlier night. The Olympic Stadium is something I liked the most. I know I cannot be there as a participant in any event so I took the photos in all different possible angles!!

The Olympic Stadium, Barcelona

From here we thought of going to Sagrada Familia (there is a castle like structure) and took a bus. We had to change the bus at one particular point Francis Macia. We of course dont know the place. Travelling in the bus we got the feeling that bus was going too far and we might have missed the stop. We asked one elderly couple and the old man was jumping up and down that we have missed the stop long back. Of course he did not know English neither did we know his language, but we understood then he made sure we got down at one stop from where it was closer to take the Metro. We then asked another guy luckily he spoke English and that place was called Vellcara!! He guided us to the Metro station. Manging to reach Sagrada Familia we did not go in since it would take us close to 20:00hrs to come out. Took few snaps from outside and then went again to the Metro station to reach airport since our flight was at 19:00hrs. And back to Mannheim where am staying from Frankfurt, the time was close to 0:00hrs.

La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece

In the two days we noticed quite strange things, like a man digging in the beach looked more like a guy digging his own grave!!

There was protest march in the street and at the tail there was a van with music playing on accompanying the marchers!!!

We were damn tired at the end of it since we had spent most of the time walking here and there, up and down…

Sathish K

4 Nov 2005

Trip to Barcelona