Maybe because of the tourist boom the city has a modern, clean & fast subway network. The trains come in 4-minute-intervalls in bring you to all important places in the city, but beware on weekdays the subway closes around midnight; the claims that the Spanish are very nocturnal seem to be an urban legend. But even when the subway doesn`t run, there are no problems to go anywhere. Barcelona is a very walkable city and it is entertaining to hike her streets because there is so much change on the way. And: The city has a long beach, how can you go wrong with that?
I enjoyed the southern flair of the city who is apparently shaped by an ambitious history and the "joie de vivre" (groove) of its residents. I got the impression that the Catalonian region blends Spain with the nearby France. Barcelona is full with places which maybe best described with the Italian term "Grandezza", meaning greatness, nobility of soul. My American wife also praised that the city is properly managed, everything looks nice and clean and there is a lot of green.
The streets are often very narrow, especially in the medieval (gothic) parts of the city, which gives them an interesting attitude, amplified by the habit to air colorful laundry on the balconies. In the old parts of the city the streets form a labyrinth. Often we lost our way and didn´t find the place, we saw the day before, but otherwise we discovered something new, which made the place more interesting.
Energy For The Hike
ricksteves). A small portion of tapas with a glas of wine (usually just €2) lends enough energy to continue a long walk through the fascinating city, which is really recommended.
A Praise On Beauty
Barcelona is not just a beauty, it seems their residents (and artists & architects) love beauty and are worshipping her. At least, almost everywhere you can find some sculptures of beautiful women. Barcelona looks like a musem of handsome statues.
Barcelona´s architecture is is partly grand and partly fanciful, maybe influenced by a powerful history and the southern flair. You also can see a lot of influences by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) , an architect with a kind of flamboyant style, who lived in Barcelona and designed many buildings there.
Even the residental buildings haven often a special beauty, as you can see below.
Catalonian Silicon Valley?
Barcelona has still some parts from the Middle Ages, including a gothic cathedral (domicil of bishops) and a basilica (no bishop). And the gothic churches got competition. Since the late 19th century a private foundation has been constructing the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (image with the cranes above), designed by Gaudi. The construction works got rekindled in the recent years thanks to a growing flood of money (rising number of tourists who pay admission fees) and the technological progress, which has been reducing the construction costs. The model designers, who are in the construction process involved, even use 3D-printers, which reminds to the fact, that Barcelona also became a technology center. The city is attracting a growing number of IT-companies, parts of the metropolis are becoming a kind of Catalonian Sillicon Valley.
When you are in Barcelona you shouldn´t miss the museums.
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya offers a foray to different epochs of art with a focal point of medieval paintings. I enjoyed the huge spectrum of styles which give an impression of the evolution of European art. Visiting the museum was like taking an academic course in art history (driveby). Above this paragraph you can see some of my favorites.
And there is much more to see and to discover in Barcerlona.