Life opens up when you travel far and wide they say, you learn to live free and breathe easy, all that is closed suddenly opens up within and you realize there is a beautiful world out there which remains unexplored. You let go of worries and every belief you held onto suddenly transforms to an amazing journey leaving one wandering why you didn’t explore this earlier. Life they say is a sum total of where you travel, what you do, what you leave behind and what you adopt new. The journey and the destination are equally mesmerizing.
Equally enchanting was a trip to Barcelona, besides having historical importance, the city boasts of the mountains and the beaches. The economic decline has not marred its shine. Tourists flock to the city from various corners of the world. The port, extensive railway network link and a systematic transport system makes travel easier.
Let me start with the most enchanting beaches the city boasts of, Barcelona was listed as number one in the top ten city beaches in the world by National Geographic and Discovery. It has seven beaches and the sun drenched waterfront provides a pleasant escape from the Gothic architecture and city humdrum. The pleasant Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, a 1.25km promenade from La Barceloneta to Port Olímpic, is a haunt for strollers, rollers , bikers and joggers. The coastline is lined with restaurants and tapas bars which come alive as twilight strikes with music and flamenco, everyday is a celebration. Spain’s second biggest city boasts of clubs like Pacha- the music retreat which has various floors dedicated to different music from retro, latino, edm, jazz. Opium, Catwalk, Shoko all lining Port Olympic is a site worth watching and soaking in from the revelers to music to food, drinks and the beautiful moonlit beaches are conducive to nothing but celebration. Step into Ice Bar which has everything frozen and even the glasses are made of ice, dip into their sub zero chamber and you will feel nothing but relief in the summers. Couple of beaches down Port Olympic, is El Boo a place by itself where you can mingle with the Spanish celebs, there are beach bars with live music and the revelry continues till morning. Not to mention the epic Bracelona boat party, boat cruise where you aren’t allowed to rest, it’s a must if you are out there to party and have fun. DJs, BBQs, beers, babes in bikinis, jumping off the boat and lots more shenanigans. It’s a different experience. The Sutton Club is all about glamour, posh and all things nice, Barcelona sure packs helluva party punch!
Having done with the nightlife, the natural place to be out in the day is La Rambla, Barcelona’s busiest boulevard showcases medieval streets on either side, lined with brands- big and small, artists showcasing their talent on the street, you can get a portrait, caricature done for yourself at a measly price of less than 10Euros. La Rambla is the artistic centre surrounded by hotels, restaurants, tapas bars, music, toyshops of all kinds and if you maneuver down the Gothic lanes you might discover what never gets written about- a unique house, stories of the city, of tales of love and lost, it’s a beautiful mix of ancient and modern. Sugar, Milk Bar, Flaherty’s and many Irish pubs and restaurants where you can chat up with other tourists and experience the city in a totally different manner.
Shopping around La Rambla is indeed very satiating, this area houses all brands chic and normal as well a slocal Spanish designers. Desigual, Mango, Gap, Diesel, Guess, LV, Prada, Promod to the high end- it all resides here.
Further down is Plaza Cataluniya which has a train and bus connection for city tours and travel out to other exotic locales. Belushi’s Bar, Loch Inn, Slow Barcelona are all housed here. So is the mobile services provider for you to take a local sim with internet worth about 8 Euros. Since most places in Barcelona have wifi it makes sense to get that. Las Ramblas is a window into Catalan culture.
The Sagrada Familia is awe ispiring by its verticality, this one is a must for sight seeing, the manner in which it emulates medieval cathedrals, this was Gaudi’s unsatiated obsession. Still under construction after more than 100 years , it attracts more than 2 million tourists, the interiors are serene and have a calming effect. The epic construction is inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat outside Barcelona which again is a must see if you have the time. The fascination these two structures awaken is unmatched. You can climb up the towers, it has narrow spiral staircases. The towers have tubular bells which are capable of playing music at great volume. The decoration features mosaic spelling out ‘Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Hosanna in Excelsis, Amen, Alleluia’. Asked why he lavished so much care on the tops of the spires, which no one would see from close up, Gaudí answered: ‘The angels will see them.’
Three sections of the portal represent, from left to right, Hope, Charity and Faith. Among the forest of sculpture on the Charity portal you can see, low down, the manger surrounded by an ox, an ass, the shepherds and kings, and angel musicians. Some 30 different species of plant from around Catalonia are reproduced here, and the faces of the many figures are taken from plaster casts done of local people and the occasional one made from corpses in the local morgue!
Directly above the blue stained-glass window is the Archangel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary. At the top is a green cypress tree, a refuge in a storm for the white doves of peace dotted over it. The mosaic work at the pinnacle of the towers is made from Murano glass, from Venice.
To the right of the facade is the curious Claustre del Roser, a Gothic style mini-cloister tacked on to the outside of the church (rather than the classic square enclosure of the great Gothic church monasteries). Once inside, look back to the intricately decorated entrance. On the lower right-hand side, you’ll notice the sculpture of a reptilian devil handing a terrorist a bomb. Barcelona was regularly rocked by political violence and bombings were frequent in the decades prior to the civil war. The sculpture is one of several on the ‘temptations of men and women’. There are guided tours where the Church and museum can be explored starting from 21 Euros. There are also audio guided tours which you can take by yourself. You can visit the Ntaivity and Passion facades which have four sky scraping towers.
Camp Nou is the place to head to for all you football fans out there, it mesmerizes fans and others alike, is so magnificient and you can almost hear the shrieking, cheering, fans. It is owned by FC Barcelona. One of the stands displaying Barcelona's motto, Més que un club,meaning "More than a club".
The 1992 Summer Olympics were held here. The stadium also houses the second most visited stadium in Catalonia, the FC Barcelona museum which hosts more than a million tourists every year. Such is the craze!
Barcelona offers stay options in all ranges- from suites to villas to apartments, everyone can find a place to stay in- make sure you check out the pictures of hotels immediately surrounding La Rambla and do not expect to pay ten thousand Indian rupees and expect 7 star treatment, you would be more than disappointed.