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We love Barcelona Part I: The City

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Barcelona is an incredible city – I remembered loving it last time I was there (nearly ten years ago!!) but it was still just as amazing if not even better.

I’m going to share three posts about Barcelona as there is just way too much to squeeze into one post! So bear with me.

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Barcelona was completely redesigned and revamped in time for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Slums were knocked down and big pedestrian squares built, the port was transformed from a harbour that had signs warning people to see a doctor if they fell into the water into a long stretch of beautiful beaches, and an array of restaurants and shops were developed (so I’m told). It’s now the second most visited city in Europe, second only to Paris. Pretty incredible stuff.

Barcelona is huge, so we did a bike tour, followed by two days on the hop on hop off bus tour.

I still feel like I could have been there two weeks and not seen everything. As it was, we ended up cancelling our plans to visit Madrid and staying in Barcelona for 6 nights.

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The bike tour was a great way to see the city, even though I am pretty unsteady on a bike these days, but I survived! I did crash into someone else, fall over sideways going up a ramp, annoy a motor biker by getting in her way, and run into a lamp post… but that is all part of the fun, right?!

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Pete and Dan were a lot more confident on their bikes, and Dan deserved to win a prize for the most selfies taken on a bicycle.

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The hop on hop off bus is a great way to see the city, for really big cities I really recommend it.

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It’s best to try and get a spot on top of the bus, you can’t really see the sights downstairs, the photo opps are much better upstairs and you can take stupid selfies.

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Barcelona is part of Catalunya, a region in Barcelona that is fiercely independent from the rest of Spain. They speak Catalonian, which is quite different from Spanish (apparently). All over the city you see Catalan flags flying proudly on balconies, in shop windows and on flagpoles.

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We saw so many sights in Barcelona it’s hard to recount them all, but here are just a few.

The most famous of all Barcelona sights is of course the array of architecture and art created by Antoni Gaudi.
The Sagrada Familia is an incredible and unique church that is still not finished, but remains the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. I love it (Dan is not such a fan of Gaudi’s work but I love it all), and it is so different to any other religious architecture I’ve ever seen.

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I’m not sure if it will ever be finished, but maybe that’s part of the magic. The different sides of the church tell different stories and have quite different styles. If it is ever finished, there will be 18 towers, so there is still a lot of work to go.

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There is a Gaudi park, and a number of other buildings scattered across the city. They really are unique and beautiful in a sort of innocently childish and fun kind of way. You can see the influence of his style throughout the city.

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Outside the Gaudi Park (we had to wait nearly 3 hours to get inside so we contented ourselves with the view from the outside!).

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During the hop on hop off bus tour we passed by a couple of old bullrings, the region of Catalan has outlawed bullfighting which I think is just wonderful.

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The botanic gardens are beautiful with a big water feature in the middle. People just sit around, having a chat, having a drink, playing music and just relaxing throughout the park.

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Down by the port there is a huge monument to Christopher Columbus, and a number of other sculptures and modern art.

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Up on the hill is Montjuic castle and the Olympic games main site, as well as a number of art galleries. We didn’t stop there but I really would have loved to if we had more time.

I could go on and on and on about Barcelona but I will leave it there for this post.

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I’m going to ask Dan to do a guest post to talk about Barcelona Football Club, the beach, street art and the Science Museum so hopefully that one is coming shortly!
And I will write another post on the many amazing restaurants that we went to, largely thanks to the recommendations from our lovely airbnb host Rosa.

On that note – this is her apartment:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/857561
And this is where we stayed the extra two nights, a beautiful and simple hotel.
http://www.hostalgrau.com/en/hotel-overview.html

I am falling behind a bit on the blog posts – after Barcelona we spent 6 relaxing nights at a yoga retreat on the East Coast of Spain, then we spent one night in Toledo and one night in Evora (Portugal). We are now in Lisbon and about to meet up with Dan’s sister Suzi!! More to come on all!!

Lisa xx

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