Stockholm- A Culture Capital

Stockholm- A Culture Capital
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Barcelona: Living the Dream on the Spanish Coast

I got my week of holidays off of working at camp (which seems like a big holiday) but it requires a lot of energy. I had hoped to go to Barcelona with some fellow workers from camp, but no one ended up getting their week off at the same time I did. I planned to go alone, but then my mom decided she would fly from Canada to travel with me, and I was surprised again when my day bought a ticket a few days before we left to join us. So I left Saturday morning on the train through the Pyrenees on a long trek to the lovely Spanish seaside city of Barcelona. I have had an ideal of what Spain would be like and how wonderful it would be, the food, the seaside, the language and romance of it all; because of this I was nervous and excited for my first time into Spain. I have to say however that it did not disappoint and if anything exceeded my expectations. I feel this way every time I leave a country of travel but I have to say Barcelona is one of the greatest cities I have ever been to.

Barcelona is a mash up of architecture and since our apartment bordered to Gothic quarter we saw it all from Roman ruins, to medieval castles, to renaissance beauty, and now modern buildings and the amazing art nouveau of Gaudi. Throughout the week we managed to see several of Gaudi’s works (not that there are a shortage in the city) the highlights being Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, the fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella and Sagrada Familia (Read More Here, or scroll down to previous entries)

Spain is known for their Flamenco dancing with fans waving, heels tapping, and dress trains spinning. We went to a show of Flamenco dancing presented along side Opera that apparently featured the most famous male Flamenco dancer in all of Catalonia. The show was great and the Spanish music and dance was full of spirit and emotion.

While in Spain I figured a trip to the Museu Picasso was a must and the exhibits show from Picasso’s earliest works at 13 and follow his life and artistic progression through his blue and rose periods into cubism. The museum has many sketches, notes, pottery, and obscure works as well as famous pieces. It was a great insight into his artistic development and ideas.

There is great shopping all over Barcelona. I thought I would hold back and try and budget but splurging happened with the urging of great clothes and a bit of my mother’s influence. (For which I am grateful) Boutiques and specialty shops are all around the old city with great Spanish and international design labels; there is also a big mall down in Port Vell along the water. Our first walk along the sea was supposed to be a route to Las Ramblas but we were sucked in to the shiny buildings and unique architecture and spent the whole day in the area down by the seaside.

To be honest, when we finally made it to Las Ramblas I was a little disappointed. Known as the streets main drag for entertainment, shops and restaurants, I found it to be more of a tourist trap. There were a few ‘don’t misses’ along the street however. It is worth the stroll the see the dozens of incredibly well dressed human statues, everything from aliens, to Native Americans, The Mask, to headless men. They are well costumed and deserve the attention. There are also a lot of flower shops and oddly a few bird pens where you can buy chickens and other birds, which I thought was more crazy than necessary, but awesome to see. The big fresh market right off Ramblas is a must see with fresh fruit, juices, meat, chocolate, everything you could want in a market place. The atmosphere is bustling and you will find a few unique items you have definitely not tried before.

This brings me to the food. (Read more here) If you know me well, this is the BEST PART!! Spain is the homeland of tapas, which is my latest food obsession and with good reason. Tapas have been going on forever is Spain and they have bar Tapas where you take small portions and pay at the end, or hot tapas that you share at a table. We ate tapas nearly everyday some of the most famous are the Chorizo sausage, Spanish hams, patatas bravas, and fried green peppers. We also had chocolate and churros, loads of Gelato (which the Italians invented but the Spanish pull off well), Crème Catalan, which is a Catalan version of the French Crème Brulee, and Horchata. Gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup, Paella, and Pan au Tomote (bread smeared with fresh tomato and olive oil) were other Spanish specialties in which we indulged. Our drink of choice was definitely Sangria that is available at nearly every restaurant in Barcelona.

Needless to say my week off was more than amazing and although I am not sure when I will be back to Barcelona I know that I will be back and will be hungry to see more of Spain (too bad I am missing the running of the bulls this July and coming home) It was great to see my Mom and Dad and again and not have to travel alone.

Never forget: “Life is Fantastic”

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