Mixing Surrealism and Tradition: Hola Barcelona!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

In all my travels around Europe, no other city fits the description of 'quirky' better than Barcelona.  Whilst steeped in rich history and tradition, the city is also home to the most avant-garde architecture in Europe. Antonio Gaudi has marked the cityscape of Barcelona with his distinct, surreal-bordering -on- bizarre architecture thus adding to its uniqueness. There is plenty to do and see around Barcelona but my best advise would be to have a loose plan of the places you fancy visiting and explore the city at a leisurely pace. You need to find enough time for a spot of street music, pinxto bar stops, taking in Catalonian culture and cuisine and to marvel at Gaudi's many wonderful works. Picasso spent his early years here and Museo Picaso is also worth a visit.

My favourite bit of the trip was the trek up to Parc Guell  during which we stopped to take in panoramic views of Barcelona. Parc Guell itself was a bit like a magic wonderland but beware of crowds of tourists. I would recommend heading up to Parc Guell during a weekday or early in the morning to avoid crowds and heat exhaustion in summer. Everyone that goes to Barcelona will head to Las Rambas but I would also recommend going to the other end of town near the Olympic Village. It is relatively less touristy and I loved walking by the seaside.

One of the best restaurants near the Olympic village and facing the sea is Bestial. The restaurant has a minimalistic decor and great ambiance. The food and cocktails were top notch and did not disappoint. Bestial was one among a whole line of funky looking bars and restaurants capitalising the seaside setting. I enjoyed our walk by the sea after sunset on a warm spring day. Perfect.

Barcelona is also a great place for shopping except on Sundays when most places are shut. I loved my visit to El Cortes Ingles and bagging great discounts. I also enjoyed visiting little boutique stores (which do remain open on Sundays) and Custo Barcelona.The Zara stores here sell items at prices lower than the UK due to the price remaining the same between pound and Euros. This of course was partly due to the pound being marginally stronger at the time of our visit.

Whilst I loved our long weekend in Barcelona, I'd really like to go back and explore the city some more. Like most big cities, it has many faces and I would like to get under the skin of it a little more. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your tips on exploring Barcelona and cool hangouts too. Ann x

Squid ink paella-finished and yum!


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