0433 No city quite like Barcelona (Spain 007—new)

Barcelona Travel Blog

 › entry 58 of 201 › view all entries

From Stuttgart I head all the way down to Barcelona--  a rather long trip… but I do really want to add this northern Spanish city to my collection.  Of course, most Barcelonans will be quick to remind you that their city is a Catalan city, not a Spanish city…

 

Got a bit of a late start, as the bus made a lot of a couple of lengthy stops at crowded beach towns north of Barcelona.  Finally we arrive and I head out to explore the city.

 

Big temperature spike after a couple of weeks in northern Europe, and I’m once again in a very touristy city.  But I soon realize that Barcelona has a very unique feel to it--  it’s not really like any other city in all of Europe.

  While other European cities have all their cultural and architectural treasures clustered around the historical Old Town, Barcelona’s treasures are scattered all throughout the vast city. 

 

And I’ve got one day to see if I can find them all…

 

First are the weird looking modern art pillars not far from the bus station… don’t know what they’re about… I continue on to a magnificent circle and two square pillars… and the splendid palace-turned-museum on the hill in the background…

 

There’s a truly royal feel to the boulevard leading up to the Palace… By the looks of it, you’d almost want to assume that Barcelona once ruled the world…

 

Up on the other side of the palace is a park area and the Olympic Stadium used in the 1992 games--  one of Barcelona’s proudest moments… All around are signs that Barcelona doesn’t want to let go of the fading glow of that event… there are tours of the stadium… massive fountains still gushing… and a museum of great Spanish athletes…

 

Please, Barcelona… that was 17 years ago…

 

From there I wander around the various parks and gardens and make my way down the hill on the other side to a neighbourhood with a strong Latin American presense…

 

Then on down a wide, leafy boulevard to the Columbus Memorial Pillar and the Marina…

 

There’s a huge crowd heading towards what looks like a shopping mall in the middle of the marina, so I go to see what the fuss is all about…

 

The bridge is crammed with Africans selling counterfeit purses and glasses… Seems like an odd place to set up shop--  it’d be very easy for them to be rounded up by the police here… Maybe the cops don’t bother them here because they don’t want to make a scene in front of the tourists…

 

Not really a whole lot to see on the island so I head on back to the mainland.

 

From there I head into Barcelona’s “Gothic Quarter” which has a different feel than any of the other Old Towns in Europe… It’s not quite Spanish, not quite French--  the alleys are very narrow, dark and mysterious… contrasted by flowery balconies high above and clothes hung out to dry… It feels both eerie and homey… both dingy and cheerful…

 

I wander up and down through the neighbourhood a couple of times, then decided to get back on a wide boulevard again to get some air…

 

I walked a ways, and then suddenly saw a bunch of people with their camera’s pointed up… I looked up… I was right in front of one of them cool Flintstonesque buildings designed by Gaudi that Barcelona is famous for! As I gaze up at this imaginative masterpiece I start to really appreciate what makes Barcelona so unique… It’s a city that sort of goes by its own drumbeat.

 

I soon stumble on a couple more of these cool buildings with their cartoonish curves and decorations.  Just looking at them might inspire you to think, “hey!  Maybe if I let my imagination run wild, I could design a come up with some pretty cool building!”

 

So far I have come across most of Barcelona’s main landmarks just by accident.  But I’m still missing the main one:  The Sagrada Familia Cathedral, designed by the same guy who designed all these Flintstone buildings… I’m eager to see up close this famous and controversial cathedral. 

 

Personally, I found the building to be quite humorous.  It’s like the guy took an ancient, rather somber and depressing religious architectural model and just threw in lots and lots of imagination and fun… The sculptures are sort of cartoonish--  even the one of Jesus on the cross… the spires look like towers out of a Dr Seuss book… I don’t think any disrespect was intended, but some people might interpret it as such.



Anyways, it’s quite interesting seeing someone mix religion and imagination in such a creative way…

 

I head back towards the main part of town, figuring I’ve probably seen everything I’m going to see, when suddenly a shiny gold statue catches my eye… I go around a building to investigate and find… the most magnificent statue and fountain complex I’ve ever seen! A gold statue of a chariot with four horses on top of a tower with more statues above a pillar of statue above several dragons spewing water from their mouths above another set of fountains… quite stunning at first glance…

 

I tell you, Barcelona doesn’t cease to amaze me…

 

And then it’s finally time for me to head on back to the bus station for another overnight ride… I take the long hike along a shady boulevard just trying to absorb everything I’ve seen during this day.  A wonderful day in one of Europe’s most unique cities…

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Barcelona
photo by: fivepointpalm