Barcelona, Spain is a metropolitan city full of culture, trade, and art. Impressive artists such as Gaudi, Dalí, Miró, and Picasso have lived here and left their mark on this dazzling city. My travels to Barcelona took place in 2007 before embarking on a Mediterranean cruise. What I found about Spain, is that it was full of adventurous and impressive things to see and do. We had a language barrier since very few people spoke English, but we made the best of it and had a memorable vacation.
We stayed at the Hotel Arts Barcelona. Their enormous caged skyscraper is visible throughout most of the city and is one of the luxurious Ritz Carlton brands. My family (my husband, Eddie, and our daughters, Taylor and Peyton) were bumped up to a concierge level room offering us access to a lounge with five complimentary food and drink presentations per day. Although we were impressed by the selection of cheeses, salads, appetizers, and desserts, we are most excited about the free beverages. This helped us save a ton of money!
Hotel Arts has the most beautiful outdoor pool with private seating groups and lounges that were big enough for my daughters and I to share. The views from the pool level were amazing! Our hotel room was modern and functional with a long corridor between the living room and the bedroom. It had state-of-the-art entertainment centers, as well. The bathroom was sleek and mostly decorated in beautiful marble.
The time difference was not easy for us and we found ourselves ordering pizza from room service at 4AM several nights. The 43 Spa at Hotel Arts was one of the best that I have ever visited. I even ran into TV actress Sandra Oh there.
Things We Experienced: World Famous Gaudi Works
Spanish Catalan Architect Antoni Gaudi is the mastermind behind the city’s most iconic symbol, La Sagrada Familia. Tourists flock to Barcelona to see the intricate details of the mesmerizing Sagrada Familia. In fact, Barcelona would hardly be recognizable without his contributions to its skyline. The first time that I laid eyes on Sagrada, I sighed out loud at the marvelous structure.
La Sagrada Familia’s architect is impressive (especially the stained glass windows), but the real magic lies in the intricate Biblical scenes depicted in the external walls. It is so ornate that you can barely look away. At one time, my daughter photographed us and all of the other tourists taking pictures in front of the cathedral; that picture was proof of how mesmerizing this giant structure is. The middle of the tower is dedicated to Jesus Christ and the four columns represent the Gospels.
Exploring the City
Taking the double decker hop on/hop off bus is probably the best and cheapest way to see Barcelona’s most popular spots. My family hopped on the bus for the entire loop. We made a few stops for better picture opportunities at the Gothic quarter (Barri Gotic), Museu Picasso, the Columbus Monument, and the incredible waterfront. The bus companies in Barcelona offer one of the better tours that I have done, when appealing to the masses.
On Barcelona’s waterfront, the picturesque Port Olimpico offers tourists a mecca of restaurants, theaters, an aquarium, and gorgeous views of the marina. Port Vell, or the Old Port, is at the bottom of Las Ramblas and is the oldest port entrance to Barcelona. While at the port, my family tried to see a movie, but they were all in Spanish. We ended up just wandering around, taking photos, and having ice cream.
Barcelona is most definitely a walking city; my family did a lot of walking seeing the squares, museums, and markets. The La Boqueria Food Market is without a doubt one of the most beautiful markets in Europe. It is located in Las Ramblas, the most well known street in Barcelona. Las Ramblas runs through the heart of the city centre and is home to a lively promenade where you can see human statues dusted in gold, all done up in gray paint, twirling fire, doing gymnastics, walking on stilts, you name it. There is also a Hard Rock Cafe, a favorite of my daughters. They were thrilled to find chicken fingers and burgers; we are so American.
Barcelona is a jewel filled with lovely things to see and do all the while becoming educated with the great history throughout the city. I would gladly go back in a heartbeat and would look for a good food tour this time. The city left quite an impression on me with its vibrant cultural scene and delicious Spanish food and drinks. Anyone who appreciates architecture or art should make this a vacation destination.
My Travels to Barcelona Photo Gallery:
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