Exploring the city center
Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 3 of 11 › view all entries
September 17th, 2009 – by: Pearl510
I was very pleasantly surprised by the hostel. The night before I didn't take it in that much, but now I could and it looked lovely. It had plenty of bathrooms, very clean, a huge and well equipped kitchen and a simple but ok breakfast. There was a different staff member around now, but he was also very friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere was laid back and nice.
As I walked out the sun was shining brightly. That was a bonus. I checked about 20 different weather reports before packing, but they all had different forecasts. And they varied from 18°C and storm to 28°C and sunny.
I started my day by walking back to Placa Universitat and then to Placa Catalunya. It was good to do it again in daylight so I could memorize the route better and take in the surroundings more clearly. Catalunya seemed a lot less confusing now, and I wondered how I could have found it so hard to orientate the previous night. Yet still, it's a pretty big square. From there, I had planned a walk down la Rambla and through the old quarters of Barcelona. So that's what I started doing.
Soon I found myself in the Mercat de la Boqueria, which is heaven for anyone who loves food.
After exploring the market I walked further. I liked the little Esglesia de Betlem, with it's lovely colorful towers on the side, wandered around Placa de Sant Josep Oriol and the Esglesia de Santa Maria del Pi.
I walked further down the Rambla to see Placa Reial and the Gran Theatre del Liceu. I didn't like the Placa Reial that much. It is not ugly but it is just like the Rambla very touristy and crowded. So I didn't stay long. Instead, I bought some postcards and made my way to the Monument de Colon and the waterside. By the time I got there, I was really exhausted and had to sit down for a while to rest. But all in all, I started to feel better and I felt very lucky for that.
It was sunny so the Rambla del Mar made a pleasant walk.
Past the Maremagnum I ended up in front of the post office. Just in time, as it gave me the perfect excuse to sit down again and write my postcards. I like to explore cities on foot because that way, you get to see more than just the highlights. I know some people prefer to take the bus or metro from highlight to highlight to safe time.
After posting the cards I entered the Barri Gotic and took a quick glance into the Esglesia the Sant Just i Pastor. After that I went to Placa Sant Jaume to have lunch. I went to a place called Can Conesa, mainly because it came recommended by the Lonely Planet. It was filled with locals so i thought that was a good sign, and the sandwich I had was tasty indeed.
The outside of the building was in stacks as well, but the inside was very beautiful. I payed for the special visit, which allows visitors to see all the parts of the church. If you indeed want to see everything, the special visit is cheaper than paying for separate tickets. I loved the choir and the overall look of the Cathedral. It was very nice and it took quite some time to see everything in there. It had a certain flair around it and the light inside was beautiful. The roof wasn't so spectacular though, and as I expected the view wasn't either. If there's something that every Spanish city I've visited has in common, then it's the fact that they don't look beautiful from up above.
After walking around the areas around the Ajuntament and the cathedral, I decided to visit the Picasso Museum. I was looking forward to this visit a lot, and wasn't disappointed. I bought the Artiket, which allows entrance to some other museums as well. The Picasso museum was a lovely start though. Very different from what I expected, but in a good way (see the review). This is a very nice museum in a very nice area of the city. The road it's in is, in my opinion, the most beautiful street in Barcelona.
Another very important reason for that, was what I became to call "my church". Without a doubt the one church that has had to most impact on me, ever. And therefore the most beautiful one I have ever seen: the Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar. It has an entrance right on the end of Carrer de Montcada (the Picasso Museum street), and blew me away from the first second I entered. The smell of the candles is all around, it is warm inside (in all meanings of the word), and lovely enlightened. Pretty dark usually, and more lit when there's a service going on. The interior is very simple, all build in one style (early gotic) and with very nice artwork.
But enough of the personal stuff, as it is not very travel related, isn't it? It was a lovely first day in Barcelona. The Rambla was nicer than I expected, although very touristy and crowded. So was Placa Cataluya. The old quarter was simply lovely, and it felt so good to hear and speak Spanish again. It was also very nice to hear Catalan, and very interesting to try and learn.
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect of Barcelona. I loved Andalucia, but I had heard and read that Barca is pretty different from the South. I can tell now, it really is. But it is also very much still "Spain". And I love Spain so much. It is in my blood since I visited it the first time. And I have gone back there about 6 times since. I know that number will only grow fast. It felt great to be "back", and to discover a new part of this country. My first impressions were very nice. My first dinner was not. I should have known better than to pick a place on the Rambla. I was so tired of walking I didn't bother, but the paella I had was rubbish. It didn't spoil my mood though. Today was definitely a teaser for the rest of the holiday, and made me look forward tremendously to the next upcoming days!
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