Sunday, November 29, 2009


Halloween & the sights of Barcelona
We spent a few days in Barcelona, arriving October 30th and leaving November 1st. (Sorry I'm going out of order). We met up with Katie, who is studying in Barcelona and was a great tour guide. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain (behind Madrid) and the 11th most populous municipality in the European Union. As the capital of Catalonia, the language is Catalan which sounded like a confusing mix of Spanish and French. Thankfully for me, most people spoke Spanish!

Barcelona definitely has plenty of sights, sounds and smells (click for an overview video)!

Las Ramblas
It's not often that you come across streets that are an attraction, but Las Ramblas is definitely something you must see in Barcelona. It's a 1.2km pedestrian-only strip, offering some great people watching. This bustling drag leads from the Mediterranean Sea into the city center and has street performers of all sorts, pet shops, markets, a gajillion souvenir stalls, food stands and more.

La Boqueria
While the earliest mention of La Boqueria was in 1217, it became the metal roofed enclosure situated on Las Ramblas in 1914. Today, La Boqueria is Barcelona's main food markets and is a bombardment on the senses - the smell of seafood or fresh produce, dodging the crowds, seeing the fishermen's morning catch on ice. We enjoyed delicious fresh squeezed fruit juice and checked out the plethora of stalls.

Placa Reial

(Royal Plaza in English) Featuring palm trees and lanterns designed by Antoni Gaudi, this Plaza is a popular meeting point and has multiple clubs and cafes. Designed in the 19th century, is just off Las Ramblas in the Barri Gotic (Gothic quarter) where most buildings date back to medieval times.

Built up as the site of the 1929 International Exposition (World Fair), this hill boasts many different attractions and museums: the Font Magica ("magic fountain"), Castell de Montujic, Palau Nacional (housing the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya), Fundacio Joan Miro, Olympic stadium, the Poble Espanyol ("Spanish Village" - an open air museum) and more.

We spent an evening watching the magic fountain show (click for video) that happens multiple times each weekend. It's a glorious mix of music (with a varying soundtrack - it was classical music when we were there), colors and water  - combined with the Palacio Nacional, lit up as the backdrop, and the city of Barcelona below you.

A large, sandy beach dotted with shops, bars and restaurants, Barceloneta is the nearest beach to the city center. It's great to stroll the boardwalk (title picture), checking out the impressive sand sculptures (below), watch the windsurfers or just enjoy the palm trees. Nearby Port Vell, rejuvenated for the 1992 Olympics, boasts an aquarium, shopping center, IMAX theater and more bars & restaurants.

Aside from the giant line to get in, this museum was great. It was very manageable and informative about Pablo Picasso, his life and how his experiences shaped his work. The museum was separated by time periods, taking us through the stages of his life and showing how his style grew and changed.

A peaceful park in hectic Barcelona, this park had many different ways to spend some time - rowing boats on the lake, the Castle of Three Dragons, checking out the Cascada (right), hanging out with the mammoth or going to the zoo. To get there, we strolled through the Arc de Triomf (left) through the Passeig Lluis Companys (below). 

Halloween in Barcelona

For Halloween (we sadly didn't dress up in costume), we headed to the Razzmatazz Club - the largest in Barcelona - with five different rooms (main one, above) playing different genres. The Spanish are known to party hard and late - starting around midnight or 1am and lasting well into dawn the next day. The highlight of my night was a performance of Michael Jackson's Thriller dance!

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