Highlights of Barcelona, Espana: SIGHTS

Barcelona is such an easily walk-able city, with the majority of key sights all within an hour or hour and a half’s walk away. (That may sound like a long walk but that was the furthest point A to point B –seaside to Park Guell. Plus, you’re on vacation and what else is there truly to do but to see and hear and absorb the rich architecture,  the people, the vibe–and I think there is no better way to accomplish this than using your two feet 🙂 (or four paws if you are of the fuzzie persuasion).

This entry will cover some of the random highlights of sights from our walk-abouts in Barcelona. From tripadvisor etc. you can easily find the main attractions (which I include a bit as well), but this is mainly a spattering of random sights that personally made our experience.

As with all cities, there are numerous neighborhoods with each their own different atmosphere that all comprise the overall city of Barcelona. One our favorites to stroll around in, especially in the evening, was the El Born area. It has a lovely bustling and lively vibe with restaurants, shops–and without the overtly jaded touristy feeling that I felt walking down Las Ramblas.

 

Wandering the streets in El Born area--lovely iron work lamps and balconies
Wandering the streets in El Born area–lovely iron work lamps and balconies

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Walking along the Passeig  del Born, we passed this memorial
Walking along the Passeig del Born, we passed this memorial

 

We saw this graffiti bear (Mr. Bear we liked to call him) in quite a few places throughout the walls of Barcelona, and then later on, even as far south in Sevilla and Madrid! So I suppose, were I to regard this like our wonderful American graffiti-taggers, this bear must be this gang’s mascot. Or probably not gang related and maybe a political symbol? Or a random cartoon artist practicing his art…

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When we first arrived in Barcelona, it was Sunday, and luckily we were able to observe the Catalan Sunday tradition after mass, (called La Saldana), right outside of the Catedral de Barcelona (beautiful gothic cathedral in the Barri Gotic area.)

La Saldana (Catalan traditional dance on Sundays after mass)
La Saldana (Catalan traditional dance on Sundays after mass)
Gorgeous gothic architecture, archways
Gorgeous gothic architecture, archways
Stoic looking door
Stoic looking door
The tower (which one I am not sure)
The tower (which one I am not sure)
Catedral de Barcelona
Catedral de Barcelona

After meandering a bit through the Gothic quarter, we headed outside of it along a main street and happened upon the Arc de Triomf (it seems indeed arcs are quite popular in European major cities)

 

Arc de Triomf
Arc de Triomf

 

A refreshing and lovely area to hang out is near the harbor, with rows of sailboats gently bobbing in the water and with the relatively new Rambla del Mar walkway with curving features- further adding to Barcelona’s artistically modern and old features.

Port de Barcelona building with buttery yellow walls

Port de Barcelona building with buttery yellow walls

Rambla del Mar, and the half-arc W hotel on the distant right

Rambla del Mar, and the half-arc W hotel on the distant right

Lovely line of sail boats with a silvery sky

Lovely line of sail boats with a silvery sky

 

Fred loves to fish so of course we went to the Aquarium, and it was actually a very nice one! We saw many a funnie looking fish—I especially liked this funny freshwater blimpie looking smiling round fish. (He is related to the piranha). We tend to assign personalities to things –I think a residual child-like trait we’ve both retained into adulthood (and beyond I’m sure).

The expression these fishes had were also hilarious--especially the one on the right--he looks like he is grinning happily

The expression these fishes had were also hilarious–especially the one on the right–he looks like he is grinning happily

The grumpy slow looking Dusky Grouper
The grumpy slow looking Dusky Grouper
Mola Mola (my favorite fishie by mere virtue of the funny expression on his face)
Mola Mola (my favorite fishie by mere virtue of the funny expression on his face)

 

The next day we walked from our airbnb place in the El Born area, all the way up to Park Guell. On the way we stopped by a charming little Molika Cafe for paninis and and coffee. We sat at a small bistro table propped against the cafe on the sidewalk, with large leafy trees providing shade with speckled sunlight. We observed life going on –people parking their scooters, walking their dogs, or on their way to work, or home with groceries.

Yummie panini snack at Molika Cafe on our way to Park Guell

Yummie panini snack at Molika Cafe on our way to Park Guell

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It was a very gradual but long incline all the way–passing neighborhoods and buildings, in the hot humidity to finally make it at the entrance of Park Guell. We were greeted by two gingerbread-looking homes on either side (of actually the exit). Such whimsical structures, from the bright multi-colored mosaic tiles covering the surfaces of benches, ceilings, walls, to reddish mud colored caves. Higher and higher you can climb and enjoy views out to the sea–the aquarium in the distance. It was a cloudy day, but we were still able to see the city of Barcelona sprawling out below and beyond.

"Gingerbread" houses (Park Guell)“Gingerbread” houses (Park Guell)

Spiraling up--walkways that look like they were whimsically built from sand/mud
Spiraling up–walkways that look like they were whimsically built from sand/mud

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The famous gecko
The famous gecko
The columns look like a cartoon version of the classic Roman columns we so often see
The columns look like a cartoon version of the classic Roman columns we so often see
Tile mosaic benches
Tile mosaic benches
Rustic archways
Rustic archways
The cloudy view to the distant sea
The cloudy view to the distant sea

 

Last but certainly not least, La Sagrada Familia. When I had last come to Barcelona, the interior of this glorious cathedral was unfortunately under construction, although even then walking through the scaffolding and draping plastic tarps, I could see the glimpses of the breathtaking soaring architecture, so seemingly whimsical, free, humorous almost–such a departure from probably 99% of all cathedrals in the rest of the world with their more austere lines and shapes.   But this time, the construction in the interior was complete and it was an amazing space to behold.

Soaring and gracefully curving columns, everywhere curves, light and shadows playing at first glance carefree and inspiring fun imagination –but after reviewing the museum at the lower level, I realize that the eclipse and curving interlocking joints of the structure all have precisely calculated meaning. Overall La Sagrada Familia is a perfect juxtaposition to St. Peter’s Basilica in Roma–One ancient, austere, formal and with gravity—this one a fantastical, playful, curving light and shadow imagination–but both absolutely awe-inspiring, inducing one to feel “religious” even if they are not–both inspiring an ethereal heavenly feeling.

I especially loved the vibrant stained glass–so vivid, bright and full of life–the glass seeming to glow and splashing its colors on the smooth marble floor.

 

La Sagrada Familia--The sun came out at last (while we were waiting in line it rained-highly recommend buying it online instead of waiting in line.
La Sagrada Familia–The sun came out at last (while we were waiting in line it rained-highly recommend buying it online instead of waiting in line.

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These graceful spires look like branches
These graceful spires look like branches

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