Wander around La Rambla and enjoy the many flower stalls.
Wander around La Rambla and enjoy the many flower stalls.

It's so easy to fall in love with Barcelona

THERE'S a lot to fall in love with in Barcelona, but two things come to my mind. Gaudi and tapas.

That's an unusual mix in a city teeming with combinations to pique the interest.

Gaudi's unique and quirky architecture dominates the city and draws visitors from all over the world.

But first the tapas, for isn't food a priority for most travellers?

Tapas bars all over the city hum with lusty life day and night which guarantees you a welcome 24/7 for something creative and delicious.

Many places display their tapas on or near the bar, the best place to sit.

Just point to what you want and it will be in front of you in moments.

And you'll pay a great deal less at the bar than you would if you sat at a table and have a waiter bring the tapas to you.

Tapas could be anything from a single croquette to a wedge of frittata or a dish of calamari, to half a dozen anchovies wrapped around plump olives, a bowl of finely cut octopus, a saucer of whitebait, a plate of fried potatoes or a ladle of meatballs.

Tapas bars are always crowded, frenetic with customer activity and happy clatter from the kitchen.

But you will be served quickly and most dishes are inexpensive.

Barcelona's port, bustling and vibrant.
Barcelona's port, bustling and vibrant.

Checking out the Gaudi architecture will be all the better on a full stomach, there is a lot to gawp at, but if you find your energy flagging, you can count on yet another tapas bar only moments away.

Gaudi is the main man in Barcelona, even though he died almost 90 years ago.

Antonio Gaudi was a Catalan architect of the art nouveau movement.

His unique and creative architecture leaves you gasping with a mix of high admiration and faint disapproval.

You will either love or hate Gaudi's architectural gift to the city. Is it brilliant or is it kitsch?

Only you can decide, but whatever you think, there is no denying its intrigue.

From the curvy Casa Mila building to the emblematic cathedral, Sagrada Familia, (still unfinished after more than 120 years of construction) Gaudi's combination of vibrant colours and intriguing stone-work give a feeling of having stumbled into the Magic Kingdom in Disneyland.

You will either love or hate Gaudi's architecture.
You will either love or hate Gaudi's architecture.

If you're patient, join the long queues for the elevator to take you to up into one of the spires of the Sagrada Familia, but be warned, it's claustrophobic up there especially when you are crammed in with backpack-toting tourists.

Construction of this unique cathedral began in 1882.

Gaudi worked on the project for more than 40 years until his death in 1926 (he was run over by a tram, a miserable end to an illustrious life) and a completion date is not anticipated until 2026.

His use of geometrical shapes of naturalist style is the keystone on which today's architects continue his work.

The best way to view the many other Gaudi buildings and to avoid the crowds outside with necks craned to take in the full scope of the rising structures, is on the top deck of the hop-on, hop-off buses.

Pop on the provided earphones and let the guide talk you through a captivating tour of the city.

You'll receive enough Gaudi information to last you several lifetimes.

Barcelona is vibrant and exciting, pulsating with life from early morning until the same hour the next morning.

It never sleeps, just dozes between 4am and 5am.

Tree-lined boulevards, theatres and restaurants, a bull ring, a bustling port, fascinating museums, mighty monuments and elaborate fountains all add to the charm of the city.

Then there's the efficient infrastructure, a legacy from the 1992 Olympic Games.

No Barcelona visit would be right without a wander along La Rambla, the famous boulevard running through the centre of the city and leading to Port Velle.

Street performers and flower stalls will distract you, so allow plenty of time to walk La Rambla's 1.2-kilometre length.

 

THINGS YOU MUST DO IN BARCELONA

  • Spend time in the Museu Picasso, housed in five restored palaces.
  • Eat croquettes. These delicious morsels made with chopped ham in a béchamel sauce before being crumbed and deep fried, are found in most tapas bars.
  • Stop at the flower stalls in La Rambla and inhale the fragrance, then buy something (anything) at the colourful markets.
  • Spend as much time as you can in the old city, the Gothic Quarter. The stone buildings, small shops, cafes, taverns and restaurant will enchant.

 

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