Barcelona is one of Spain’s most sophisticated and culturally exciting cities. Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, is inseparably linked to the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. His most famous and unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, is the emblem of the city. Since it hosted the Sumer Olympics in 1992, Barcelona has been on the hot list of European destinations. Over the past decade, better infrastructure, increased cruise ship traffic and a reputation for gastronomic excellence have put Barcelona at the forefront of European city destinations.
There is really no best time to visit Barcelona, nor a worst. Thanks to its location on the Mediterranean, it enjoys a mild, pleasant climate year-round. Even in winter, locals sunbathe on the beaches and eat and drink on terraces.
Sights – La Sagrada Familia; La Pedrera; La Catedral (La Seu); Santa Maria del Mar.
Museums – Museu Picasso; Musea Nacional d’Art de Catalunya; Fundacio Joan Miro; Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat.
Memorable Meals – Lunch at Escriba Xiringuito on the seafront; high-end Mediterranean fare at Tragaluz; seasonal Catalan fare at Gresca.
Late Night – Flamenco at Los Tarantos; drinks and a view at Mirablau; wine at La Vinya del Senyor; dancing at Otto Zutz.
Walks – La Rambla, the Barri Gotic and the Born; along the waterfront; Montjuic; Park Guell; Collserola woodlands.
Dublin is situated on the east coast of Ireland. Its famed river, the Liffey, cuts through the center of the city, dividing the city into north and south. On the north side are 18th century architectural masterpieces such as the Custom House and the Four Courts. South of the Liffey are Trinity College, the trendy (but old) streets of Temple Bar, the fine Georgian buildings of St. Stephen's Green, Grafton Street's upscale stores and restaurants, and most hotels.
As with many places in Europe, Barcelona’s history has much to do with invasions and conquest. The Romans founded the original settlement, named Barcino, in 133 BC, and the town was later held by the Visigoths, the Moors and the Christian Carolingian kings and became the dominant political and military force in the region of northeastern Spain later know as Catalonia. (Much of the city’s character stems from the fact that it identifies itself more as part of Catalonia than Spain).
Catalan cuisine resembles that of other Mediterranean countries and makes use of nuts, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and herbs. Truly traditional Catalan restaurants often feature many rich sauces and protein-centric dishes. Many restaurants advertise as serving cuina de mercat or cocina de Mercado, meaning they use whatever is in season at the local market. Freshness is of the essence.
Like most Europeans, the Catalans begin their day with a light breakfast that may include bollos (rolls), melindros (lady fingers) and pastries. Lunch is served about 1:30 pm at the very earliest, with peak time being 2-4 pm. Berenar or merienda is an afternoon snack taken at around 4 or 5 pm to get you through to a late dinner, which isn’t served until 9 pm or later.
The most popular recreation area in Barcelona is the seafront, especially new Vila Olimpica. Walkers, joggers, bicyclists and in-line skaters all make use of the area, where they can be mobile without the worries of automobile traffic. The city’s beaches are there, too, extending from Barceloneta eastward. What’s more, Port Olimpic at Vila Olimpica offers opportunities for sailing and other watersports.
The industrious Catalans have often been dubbed a nation of shopkeepers, and Barcelona does have a staggering number of shops of every kind and in every neighborhood. Barri Gotic and El Raval have many quirky little shops with long family traditions.
Food and drink are highly prized in Barcelona and make good souvenirs. Stock up on olives and cheese (ask to have it vacuum packed for overseas travel) at La Boqueria market on La Rambla, cold pressed virgin olive oil in OroLiquido, and Spanish wine at a large grocer such as Colmado Quilez. If you don’t mind carting (or shipping) heavy parcels home, treat yourself to an earthenware cooking pot.
Population – 1,600,000
Languages – Catalan, Spanish
Predominant Religions – Christian (Roman Catholic)
Currency - Euro
Time Zone – 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Saving Time is observed from the end of March to the end of October.
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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon
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