When we decide to travel, the most important aspect of our travel plan other than updating our location on Facebook is time. For how many days do I travel? Obviously only as long as it takes for the temper vein on your boss’ forehead to pop, right? The point is that everybody and everything except us determines the length of our itinerary.
And for good reason. Consider Barcelona, a city with a range of options that is so wide that it would take a lifetime to explore the city’s culture, language, tradition, music, art, sport, architecture, cuisine, natural landscape and yes, popular selfie spots. How can we maximize our time in a place like Barcelona where there’s just so much to see? Well, that’s where we step in.
What’s the brouhaha all about?
Barcelona is a quirky but sophisticated city with a rich history, fascinating traditions, historically significant architecture, delectable cuisine, an exquisite natural landscape, all this in addition to a laid-back lifestyle, a modern outlook and arguably one of the proudest cultures you will ever come across.
The bustling art scene, gorgeous beaches, eclectic nightlife, footballing nirvana and bohemian vibe make Barcelona the most vibrant city in Spain.
What to look out for?
Barcelona is easy to explore on foot, and almost all of its most celebrated monuments are within walking distance of each other. The city is home to some of the world’s prettiest cathedrals and monuments, most of which are influenced by the works of Anton Gaudi (1852-1926), a Catalan architect with a peculiar and unique style. The most popular of these is the iconic, still-under-construction Sagrada Familia. Other popular Gaudi creations include the Parc Güell, Colonia Güell and Torre Bellesguard.
Other than this, your walk through the city must include Las Ramblas, the most famous street in Barcelona, the Parc de la Ciutadella, a huge, traditional park with an ornamental cascade and an artificial lake and the Museo Picasso, the house of the most extensive collection of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Barcelona also has a great bar scene. It would be a mistake not to devote an evening to a pub or a bar which is perfect for watching football, having a drink and perhaps a game of darts. Do not forget to include a day on the beach, with Sant Sebastià and Nova Icària being your best bets.
What about food cravings?
Barcelona is a cauldron of culinary delights and has a reputation for producing some of Spain’s finest cuisine. Familiarize yourself with the concept of tapas. Tapas is a general name given to all small dishes that are served to be shared. This could include anything from a bowl of olives to a plate of grilled prawns. Some tapas dishes include pan con tomate (white bread toasted with tomato and olive oil), patatas bravas (the French fries of Spain) and the quintessential croquetas (meat fritters). Pernil (ham) and queso (cheese) are culinary constants. Traditional desserts include crema Catalana, a delicious version of crème brûlée, but you might also be offered mel i mató, honey and fresh cream cheese.
How do I get there?
The options here too will spoil you. You can fly to Barcelona, the airport is about 15 km south of the city or you can take a train with the city being connected to major cities like Paris, Zurich, Milan and Berlin. You can even drive to Barcelona if you have a hired vehicle. Travel within the city is facilitated by a metro line. Make sure you have a comprehensive metro map, some basic ‘how-do-I-get-there’ Catalan and bundles of energy for those city strolls.
And what about the budget?
Barcelona, like most western European cities, is not a cheap city to travel to. Fortunately, it isn’t terribly expensive either. Budget travellers would require anywhere between Rs 4500-5000 (€60-65) per day. This would cover food, transportation, accommodation AND the late night wine. Places where you’ll have to loosen the purse strings the most include parks, museums, cathedrals and other monuments. A good option would be to have a heavy breakfast and skip lunch so that you can save and fit in another cathedral.
Any travel tips?
Firstly, entrance queues for the city’s main attraction can play a HUGE spoilsport, so get rid of the technological handicap, if any, and book your tickets online. Once again, do not be bullish (read: Indian) about this, the queues can get really long. If you are going bar-hopping – and you must – always remember, safety first. Most of the city is relatively safe, but you will want to avoid some areas late in the night.