If you’ve been following my pictures and updates on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you’ll know that I recently spend a week exploring the treasures of the Catalonian Coast with a good mate of mine, Gautam Krishnan (aka “G”). My last post explored our adventures in some of the priceless, often undiscovered, gems of the coastline.
The final stop on our journey was the famous Barcelona and I asked G to share his experience of the city. It’s amazing how two people can see so many different things in a city. I’m sure you all must be tired of hearing my ramblings anyway, and G has a wonderful way of expressing his experience.
Here is G’s take on Barcelona:
Barcelona: A Modern City Preserving The Past
-By Gautam Krishnan
Big cities can sometimes lose their character to noise and chaos as they grow. Yet, along the eastern coast of Spain, Barcelona manages to retain its charm. A few days in the heart of the old city’s Gothic Quarter provided a glimpse into how the city has transformed over several hundred years. It holds tightly to its historic architecture and green spaces while the city’s live music begs you to soak it all in.
A personal favourite was Parc Guell. It’s situated on a hill about 4km from the Gothic Quarter with scenic views of the city. The park was designed by one of the region’s most well-known architects, Antoni Gaudi.
His work is distinct and easy to spot thanks to its flowing lines, fairy-tale like features and his love for arranging broken tiles into intricate designs. Looking at the lines and angles you have the impression they began straight and orderly, but were warped through a combination of imagination, creativity and quite possibly, something hallucinogenic. Regardless of the means, the outcome is enjoyable.
I spent much longer than planned at the park after being drawn in by two local bands. The Big Pocket Orchestra had jazzy remixes of popular favourites – think Pink Panther and James Bond themes. Another group there was Tablao Sur. Made up of musicians from Spain, Venezuela and Argentina, they played Flamenco, Cumbia and covers of the Gipsy Kings while entertaining the crowd with their Flamenco dances and body percussion.
Admittedly, the afternoon was a busy time to visit but an early morning visit the next day was much quieter and a great way to enjoy the sunrise over the city.
Where is Catalonia?
Though the term ‘Catalan’ is familiar to many, a visit to Barcelona was a great way to learn more about Catalonia and its people’s history. Catalonia is a region in Europe which overlaps with much of Spain today. The Catalan people have their own distinct culture and language which came with a history of tension and oppression from the Spanish government. The group emerged shortly after the Arabian presence in Spain which explains much of the Muslim and Arabic influences visible in the region’s architecture. Today, many people from region identify as Catalan before Spanish. Though you can learn much about the Catalan people by exploring the city, the Museu de Historia de Catalunya is an interesting way to spend an afternoon and the rooftop bar is a nice way to end the tour.
Visiting Barcelona meant meeting up with old friends and some new ones as well. This made for a great excuse to enjoy wandering around the Barceloneta neighborhood while enjoying some tapas, sangria, and drinks along the way. Though it used to be an old fishing community with an edge, it has since been rejuvenated into a great area for socializing and enjoying the cool evenings.
Montjuic is another area well worth a visit. Situated on a hill to the west of the downtown, Montjuic was the heart of the Olympic games in 1992. It’s an area with plenty of museums, a castle on top and runners taking in the trails and gardens everywhere in between.
Like any good city, Barcelona has its fair share of markets that are filled with locally grown foods. Veggies and produce are everywhere and the jamón is definitely worth a try!
And so much more…
After a few days, we were able to just scratch the surface of what Barcelona has to offer. Walking around the University of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla (also just fun to say out loud) and the Parque de la Ciutadella are other great ways to take in the city. Whatever your approach, head to Barcelona with an open mind and you´ll be sure to enjoy yourself.