If you were to send London and Paris on a date, Barcelona would be their love child. The intricate detailed buildings had all the earmarks of Parisian architecture harmoniously in balance with the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle we know to be synonymous with London.
It was somewhat disappointing that Barcelona has chosen to seize every possible point of interest and capitalise on it to turn it into a paid for exhibition; Park Güell – you paid for. Casa Batlló – you paid for. The Picasso Museum – you paid for. I get that these things need some financial sustenance however they would have done well to have offered something as a gesture of goodwill! When you take these places out of the equation, there is the realisation that actually there isn’t much to do in Barcelona. However I wasn’t disheartened. Because of the city’s quaintness if you don’t want to pay the numerous entrance fees – which we didn’t – you can just enjoy meandering through the streets (particularly of the Gothic quarter) and eating tapas.
Around 45 minutes away from the city is the mountain of Montserrat. I can highly recommend booking a hiking excursion (which can be modified to suit your ability) and visit to the Monastery. Ramon’s – our guide – knowledge of the history, geography of the land and Catalan culture was astonishing as were the far reaching vistas.
After visiting Barcelona in 1862 Hans Christian Anderson wrote of the city:
“We crossed spacious streets, with buildings resembling palaces, in La Rambla promenade; the shops were well illuminated and there was movement and life…”
During the day Las Ramblas is a thing of beauty buzzing with street performers, pop up stalls, artists and musicians. But as the sun sets, out of the shadows scurry the city’s scoundrels. Offers of chocolate con churros become offers of Cocaine or enticement into a nearby “coffee shop”. In place of the buskers now stood Prostitutes skulking in the darkness.
Barcelona wasn’t as sensational as I had thought it might be. I am very much the kind of person who enjoys the “doings” a place can offer rather than the “seeings”. Barcelona has plenty of things one can – pay – to go and see but not an awful lot for those that like to be on the move. So would I go back? Probably not… at least not until the Sagrada Familia is finally finished!