07.01.2014

BARCELONA IN TWO DAYS

BARCELONA IN TWO DAYS, Nazlı Tezcan | 07.01.2014

Barcelona... I'd wanted to go for many years, but somehow I'd never yet found the time to see Gaudi's magnificent city.

We came to spend two days in the city and we were immediately greeted by heavy rain. We didn't want the rain to ruin our trip and we got to our hotel using the metro before we were soaked! It's not difficult to get anywhere in the city using the metro system.

We dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to one of the first places everyone has to see in Barcelona: Park Güell. The park was built towards the beginning of the 1900s for the Güell family as an indicator of their nobility. The park's uniqueness is the product of its architect, and is one of the best examples of Gaudi's architecture you'll get the chance to see. The Park Güell has been a World Heritage Site since UNESCO added it to its list of cultural assets in 1984.

Another place that you'll get to see Gaudi's architecture is in the Passeig de GraciaAround here you'll find a wide variety of stores, lovely cafes and restaurants. It's a really nice, long street where just walking along it is unendingly pleasant. If you're interested in shopping, "El Corte Ingles" is on this street. Two of Gaudi's most famous buildings, the Casa Mila and the Casa Batllo are also places that really need to be seen. If you have a lot of time to spare, you should definitely take the time to see the insides of these buildings.

At the end of the Passeig de Gracia is the Plaça de Catalunya, or Catalan Square. This is Barcelona's most important intersection. One of the streets that intersects here is probably Barcelona's most famous street: La Rambla.

La Rambla is a beautiful street that is pedestrianized in its center and the traffic moves around it. All along the street are flowers of every color you can think of, and you can see some wonderful street musicians, street artists, and living statues. There are many different kinds of restaurants along the street and it is one of the nicer places to meet for dinner. We'd recommend that you eat at one of the many tapas restaurants that fall along the street. Tapas is one of the typical Spanish cuisines, featuring many small plates of different types of food. For the most part, these restaurants have reasonable prices with different menu options. And of course a trip to Barcelona would be incomplete without at least trying Spain's great seafood rice dish paella.

Speaking of which, how could a trip to Spain be complete without watching a flamenco performance?! We went to a Flamenco Club called Tarantos in the Plaça Reial. Because we'd bought our tickets online we managed to get in without waiting in line. We settled down at a table fairly near the stage and watched the hour long performance. For us it was the perfect after-dinner activity. However you end up spending your time in Barcelona, I'd recommend that you do everything you can to make time for a Flamenco performance. After the performance we decided that it was a perfect ending for our first day in the city and decided to go back to our hotel.

Our hotel was quite near Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia, for which the great Alan Parson's Project's song was named! As a result, on our second day we decided to begin our day touring the famous church. This massive church was only half finished by the time of Gaudi's death and, more's the pity, the construction of it still continues to this day. Actually, this is the reason it's called the "unfinished church". When it's raining sometimes the elevators up the towers don't work, so make sure you ask about that before you buy tickets.

There were a few more places that we wanted to see before taking the plane back to Istanbul. As a result we got our act together quickly and headed towards Mercat de la Boqueria on La Rambla. This is a closed market with all kinds of foodstuffs, when you're inside there's so much you can't decide where to look or turn next! All kinds and colors of fruits and vegetables, seafood, spices, desserts... one loses oneself amidst all the choices!

There are also snack stalls that allow you to taste small goodies. I think the market is closed on Sundays, but either way this is one of the places in Barcelona that you have to see.

We left the market and its riches and headed from La Rambla to the seaside. It was just our luck that Barcelona's weather finally started to improve just as we were planning on leaving. At least nice weather would mean the beach would be lovely, so we sped up our pace to get there. Despite its newness in a city steeped with historical architecture, the sail shaped W Hotel designed by Riccardo Bofill has become one of the architectural symbols of Barcelona. Even though the water was a bit chilly, we watched some surfers on the seaside before heading towards the cable car that goes up to Sants Montjuïc. The cable car takes you up 210 meters to the top of the hill, and affords you views over the city all the way up. We weren't able to spend a great deal of time at Montjuïc, as our time in the city was really running out.

We wanted to see the Barcelona Cathedral to finish off our trip in style. Even though it's a bit far from the Montjuïc hill, we walked there going through the beautiful small narrow streets.

The magnificent gothic architecture is even more impressive in person than the pictures you see of it. We spent the last hours of our trip listening to street musicians in the square that houses the Cathedral, the Plaça de la Seu.

We were disappointed that our time had run out, and we unwillingly returned to our hotel, collected our bags and belongings, and went to the Plaça Catalunya from where the buses to the airport depart. About 30 minutes later, we got to the airport and the last stop in our 2 day whirlwind tour of Barcelona. We left the city promising to come back another time, and catch a Barcelona game in Nou Camp Stadium next time.

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