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Barcelona, Spain

August 21st, 2011

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Barcelona parks index:

Parc Guell

Parc de Montjuic

While traveling, we always look for the dramatic event or that beautiful site that pulls together the essence of a place. This is the memory to which we return time after time. Often this is the people who we meet in a far-off city. Sometimes it’s the city architecture or country-town charm. For Barcelona, a metropolis of diverse charms and subtle contradictions, I think of the Magic Fountain of Parc de Montjuic. The colored lights that saturate the dramatic fountain shoots, sprays, and fans match the pinks and blues, the corals and yellows of Barcelona’s sunrise-sunset hues seen from its coastal hills and sandy beaches. Effervescence describes this Mediterranean city, where walking is a daily highlight, people watching is perhaps the best entertainment, and the side-street cafés are every foodie’s nirvana.

 

Barcelona is the Catalan capital along Spain’s southern coast. Site of the 1992 Olympics, the local tourist bureau has used the city’s Old World charm and now-modern hospitality to become one of the most favored European tourist destinations since the mid ‘90s.

 

What you’ll find in Barcelona are people who love to be with other people. This description draws the picture for friendliness, good food, quality local transportation for you to get around, exotic architecture and neighborhoods, family fun, and a relaxed (if but busy) atmosphere.

 

Parks, Boulevards and Cathedrals

The best time to visit Barcelona is August, when the city is quieter because many of the residence are themselves vacationing. Hotel prices fall, the beaches are full but not overly crowded, and the sites are just as exciting as if you came in October or April.

One way to experience both people and culture is to stroll through some of Barcelona’s numerous parks. From the crest of Park Guell, in the hilly northwest end of the city, you can see Barcelona stretch in panorama down to the coast. In the distance, the needle-shaped spires of Sagrada Familia draw the eye. Park Guell is divided into two distinct parts, an undeveloped natural area near the top of the hill, and the more famous sculpture park below. In the sculpture portion you’ll find walkways and other structures exhibiting the distinct and colorful style of Antonio Gaudí, including the famous terrace (entrance is free).

 

Down near the sea, and surrounding the Olympic Village, are botanic gardens and Parc del Migda. You’ll always find crowds here because it is nearby the grand strolling boulevard La Rambla, stretching from the harbor to La Placa Catalunya. This two-square-mile area is one of Barcelona’s top tourist destinations. Street jugglers, clowns on stilts, and musicians entertain the crowds walking along the leafy avenues. Cable cars take riders over the tops of the trees for an unusual view of the area and surrounding city.

 

What you’ll notice in Barcelona is its rich Catholic history, where cathedrals and churches sprout like the tallest flowers in a garden of delights. Sagrad Familia is a Gaudí design that went unfinished for decades. Now the signature cathedral of Barcelona, it is most impressive at night, when its spires are lit up.

(read more about Barcelona’s highlights here)

[photos by Asia Szustek]

 

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