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48 hours in Barcelona, a love affair with small cobbled streets

It is a funny thing. I never really had Spain on my list. I ended up there for a Flight Centre Global Ball that I qualified for when I was a travel Agent.

But once there, Barcelona intrigued me. From the winding alleys of the Gothic quarter to the hip new area at the old Barcelona wharf, the summertime holiday vibe is contagious. 

I arrived in Barcelona at the end of their summer. The days were 30oC min and crazily humid. I dumped my bags and headed out straight away in a cab. 

Las Rambla, Barcelona’s “main” street is lined with wrought iron clad balconies, ornate lamp poles and potted flowering plants dangling from 4 and 5 storey vintage apartments. 

The street itself is leafy and filled with painted entertainers and lazy diners lapping up the atmosphere in little satellite restaurants. Buskers ambient noises waft on the breeze and the stall sellers sit back and wait for their next victim. 

At the northern end of Las Ramblas is the wonderfully enticing 19th century La Boqueria food market, with rows and rows of fresh glowing seasonal fruit, big legs of hanging prosciutto, cheeses and all kinds of piled dried fruits and nuts, and sellers who have stacked little shiny marzipan fruits. You can buy the most amazing fruit blends here, any combo at all, you name it - if it is in season you can get it, all cool and waiting for thirsty punters under shaved ice. Great value at 2.50EU. 

Amazing food marketAmazing food market
Amazing food markets. Eat your heart out foodies!

About a block or two north is the amazing Casa Batllo dragon mosaic house designed by Gaudi, Spains’ early architect who was ahead of his time. Gaudi embraced elements of the animal and earth to create abstract design features in his architectural work, and it can be seen throughout all of Barcelona. 

Just around the corner in the Bari Gotic (the Latin quarter), the wide paved roads make way for winding little cobbled alleys. Picasso lived and worked here in the late 1900’s. It is a vibrant mix of alleys leading into ancient squares, old city walls and tiny little shops tucked into the bottom of vintage apartment blocks. 

Every turn in this labyrinth leads to some wonderful old church such as the Santa Maria del Pi, small coffee house or a farmers cheese stall. The buildings in here have stood since medieval times and a scant few date back to the Roman era. This is a lovely, lovely area and you can spend many 
The mazehours getting lost in the streets here. It is flanked by the equally enchanting Jewish area. 

The maze

short metro ride from the medieval heart, is another Gaudi project Parc Guell. This Unesco park was begun in the early 1900’s and had a bit of a delay during the war years, but it today it is a massive expanse of beautiful mosaic gingerbread type buildings that look like they are straight from a Hans Christian Anderson story, ornate tiled fountains and plenty of public areas. It is a good place to find shade on a hot Spanish day after you have made the trek up the hill from the metro, past the glittering mosaic tourist shops. 

The other must see in Barcelona is of course the Sagrada Familia, the massive unfinished Christian cathedral. It towers over the surrounding streets and its 3 biblical facades are so intricate that you could stand under it gazing up for hours on each side. They have been building it since late 1800’s and are still going. Another baby of Gaudi’s, unfortunately he died before seeing the completion of the massive structure. It is due for completion in 20 or so years. It truly is magnificent and feels like the city. 

Casa Batlló

Casa Batllo dragon mosaic house
Fabulous Barcelona is worth a tick on anyones list. It is visitor friendly, welcoming and easy to get around. The metro runs all day every day and you never have to wait longer than a few mins. It is a good walking city too, with good signs and lots of sights. Hola Barcelona, I will be back. 

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