Sunday, August 22, 2010

Barcelona- A Beautiful City on the Sea

Barcelona. I knew as I watched the city go by from the windows of the bus coming from the airport that I was going to like it. Beautiful architecture, many people bustling about, shops everywhere, warm sunny weather. By the end of the first evening, I loved the city. I soon realized my hotel was just a short walk from Placa de Catalunya, the main plaza in Barcelona and a main central area of the city. Once I checked into my hotel, I found out I'd been given a free upgrade- to a suite! Wow! The suite was on the top level of the hotel with huge windows, from which I could see the Placa, the hills, the Cathedral, and some of the historic parts of Barcelona. A great way to start my stay in Barcelona.

Later, I wandered past the Cathedral and around the Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter. The streets were narrow and cobblestoned, lined with shops, cafes, ice cream shops, bakeries, clothes shops, souvenir shops, and more. The streets were busy with people, and I heard bits of several languages and noticed people from several countries. I walked past part of the original Roman city walls, past some museums, shops. I looked at some restaurant menus as I walked along, looking for some good Spanish or Catalan cuisine. I finally found a good option for a restaurant, and I tried chicken paella, a traditional Spanish baked rice dish with tomatoes, peppers and herbs. A glass of red sangria went well with it! Later I came across The Ramblas as I wandered around. The Ramblas is a famous street in Barcelona, filled with tourists, street performers, souvenir shops, street stands and restaurants. It was a great place to people watch, with many people everywhere coming and going.


The next day, I toured the Cathedral nearby, with some beautiful stained glass windows and chapels. Later I saw a few of the Barcelona tourist sites on a bus, stopping at places like the Olympic grounds from the 1992 Olympics. It was interesting just looking around and seeing the city as we drove along. Barcelona doesn't seem like as big of a city as it is, and I found the people very laid-back and friendly.

Later that day, I walked all along The Ramblas, from the harbor to the Placa de Catalunya, stopping to eat at a restaurant along the way, browse at some shops, watch some of the street performers, etc. I walked through a market nearby, filled with meat stands, cheese stands, fruit and vegetable stands, and more. It was very lively and busy and fun to walk around. The first couple days, I think I enjoyed just wandering around the city the most, looking at the architecture, watching people, etc.!    

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