6 Oct

The next stop on our Spanish tour was the city of Barcelona on the northern Mediterranean coast. It is the second largest city in Spain, and the capital of the Catalan region. I think I’m the only person I know who prefers Madrid to Barcelona, and revisiting both places did not significantly change my opinion. Barcelona has a very cosmopolitan vibe (it actually reminds me a bit of Buenos Aires). Madrid has a more distinct flavor, while Barcelona feels less unique. It’s also jam packed with tourists (yes, I realize I was one of them). That being said, the city is lovely and we had a great time strolling and nibbling for several days.

img_6529One of the highlights of Barcelona is the wide variety of interesting architecture that can be found. There is a plethora of styles on display, often mixed together within the limits of one city block. One of the more famous blocks near where we stayed is actually called the Block of Discord due to the multiple, clashing architectural styles it contains. We visited one of the houses involved in the discord, Casa Batlló. Antoni Gaudí was arguably Barcelona’s best-known architects, and Casa Batlló is one of his masterpieces. The façade is covered in colorful tiles, and the curved shapes of the windows and balconies resemble flowing water… or maybe eerie skulls… or maybe a lurking dragon… the jury is still out on that one. The inside of the house is as eclectic as the outside, and touring it made for an interesting hour or two.

We visited several other Gaudí constructions while in Barcelona, the most img_6578remarkable of which is the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s as yet unfinished cathedral that looms in the Barcelona skyline. Despite being incomplete, the cathedral is designated a UNESCO heritage site. Construction began in 1882, and continues into the present day; there are currently cranes, scaffolding, and active welding taking place. The slow rate of completion can be attributed to an intermittent lack of funds, as well as pesky things like civil wars and repressive dictators. We toured the Sagrada Familia, including a journey to the top of one of the spires. The views over Barcelona and the Mediterranean from the top are most impressive, while the return climb down the narrow, twisting stairs inside the spire falls somewhere between entertaining and nerve-wracking.

Aside from admiring the architecture, we spent a fair amount of time exploring Barcelona’s culinary scene. We discovered a highly rated tapas bar a block from our hostel, and patronized it more than once. I am a huge fan of tapas, and the entire concept of eating numerous, small nibble-sized portions. I love tasting menus, and a meal of tapas is essentially an invitation to create your own tasting menu. Culinary favorites included amazing avocado toast, grilled octopus, tiny truffle and ham sandwiches inexplicably named after the bikini, and a full brunch served in a handless shovel.


One Response to “Barcelona”

  1. Going Global: A School Counselor Goes Abroad October 7, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    Enjoying your adventure! I’m the other person on the world that prefers Madrid to Barcelona!

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