While this time we were prepared for late dinners, we weren’t really prepared for Barcelona. We had been told by everyone who had been here that it was a very good city, but in fact, it’s a great city….on a par with London, Paris and Buenos Aires. After four days, Sally prefers it to both London and Paris.
I believe that your appreciation of a city is often influenced by where you stay. Whether as a result of our careful analysis, or luck, we chose well in Barcelona. We stayed at the AC Diplomatic, part of a Spanish hotel chain. The location was excellent; one block off the Passeig de Gracia, the city’s most fashionable street, and a block from the Manzana de la Discordia, which I will write about later.
The building was not particularly attractive from the outside, but it had attractive, contemporary designed common areas and the rooms had been renovated with hardwood floors and well appointed bathrooms. A four star rated hotel, the price seemed quite reasonable by international standards, so we upgraded to a superior room. It cost about $600 for four nights, with a free mini bar! (Beer, juices, soft drinks, waters, but no wine.) We skipped the excellent buffet breakfast, except for one morning, since we are too easily tempted, and want to be able to fit into our clothes for a wedding in UK in a week.
If you are planning a trip to Barcelona, we can highly recommend the hotel. We also recommend the Bus Touristic. We bought a two day ticket which allowed ‘hop on-hop off’ service on three different routes which take about four and a half hours to complete. After two days, we really thought we had a good appreciation of the layout and highlights of the city.
Barcelona’s most famous street is La Rambla, a very wide street by North American standards, with a pedestrian zone down the middle. It’s lined with cafes and shops and it’s what we would have liked Granville Mall to be. One of its features is a parade of street performers in the most amazing costumes doing some very silly things to earn a few cents or Euros.
At the bottom end of La Rambla, near the port is a prominent statue of Christopher Columbus. Having recently watched a movie of his life story, we now realize he’s the reason Spain enjoyed so much wealth for so many years. The nearby port area has been extensively redeveloped over the years, like Vancouver’s port, in large part due to their hosting the 1992 Olympics.I visited their Olympic Village which now seems surprisingly dated, and quite devoid of street life, especially when compared with other parts of the city. More about it in a later post.
However Montjuic, where the main Olympics facilities were built near the sites of the 1929 World Exposition, offers very impressive facilities and views and much activity. The name means ‘Jewish Mountain’, but it is not a reflection of the number of Jews there today. Rather, it refers to the location of the former Jewish Cemetery, and presumably an earlier community. While the Jews played a prominent role in Spain up until the 15th Century, that changed in 1492. (The mountain is connected to the city by both a funicular and cable car...something Gordon Harris will hopefully soon make happen on Burnaby Mountain!)
With its incredible buildings, vibrant street life, and many excellent bars and restaurants, Barcelona is a fabulous place to visit. Although we spent four days, it was not enough and we plan to return for a couple more days, before heading off to Madrid.