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TEMPS: Year-round temps range from 55-82 degrees
POPULATION: Approx 1.5 million
COST OF LIVING: Similar to Tampa Fl or Atlanta, GA
PRICE OF WINE: A Decent bottle in a store will only set you back about $5.00
I’m tempted to write that Barcelona is a horrible, dirty, rude country. I would love to make up stories about being accosted by pick-pocketers and EuroTrash. But my motivation in doing this would be to attempt to keep this incredibly beautiful city a secret so it won’t be very crowded when I return.
As someone who lives less than an hour from the Mexico border, I was a little skeptical about how much I would like Barcelona. I expected it to be a nice city with some neat architecture & churches and probably some fairly good food. I was looking forward to the trip but I also thought that after the 4 days, I would be ready to return to the U.S.
My preconceived ideas about Barcelona were WAY OFF. First, it is an absolutely beautiful, clean and friendly country. It is filled with people who are outgoing yet not pushy and beautiful yet not intimidating. It also seems to be a city full of healthy, mobile people. I saw more mobility scooters at JFK Airport than I saw in the entire city of Barcelona.
The city has an energy that starts in the morning and goes well past midnight. I had the extra fortunate opportunity to visit at Christmastime. The city streets boast different light displays with each one being absolutely stunning. I have felt like I am just going through the “routine” of the holidays lately and Barcelona most definitely kick-started the “Christmas Spirit” in me.
Barcelona is part of Catalonia, a section of Spain which is currently working to gain secession from the rest of the country. It’s hard not to appreciate this independent spirit and hope that they do become their own country.
So, on my first full day, the host of my group told me that we would be meeting in the hotel lobby at 7:30 to go to dinner. MEETING at 7:30? I’m usually in my jammies by 6:00 and by 7:30 I am regretting the sleeve of Oreos I ate. I felt that if the Catalonians would skip the afternoon siestas, then they could eat and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
It took me exactly one day to adjust to these late evenings and by my final night it was past 10:00 when my friend and I finally went to dinner – our bodies had embraced the Catalonian schedule.
If you plan to visit Barcelona and only have a couple of days, I would highly recommend spending one day allowing yourself to get lost in this city. Start your day at the top of La Rambla, a pedestrian-friendly tree-lined street which seems to be popular with both tourists and locals. Meander down the street and allow yourself to get sidetracked, and even lost, in the Gothic District. This district is a maze of smaller streets and alleys filled with shops, restaurants and curiosities. Once you are convinced that you are lost for good, a small alley will drop you off at a large square which will most likely contain an absolutely stunning cathedral or university campus. In the unlikely event you do not think you will ever find your way out, a cab ride is an inexpensive option to help you find your way.
Spend your next day enjoying the art and culture that the city has to offer. Rather than make any suggestions, look up the different museums that are available in the city and visit the ones that pique your interest.
For those that have even less time in the city, the hop-on, hop-off tour busses are a good option and seem to be reliable. For one price, you can get on and off these double-decker buses all day long and visit popular landmarks. As if experiencing the heart of the city isn’t enough, the waterfront area is a short metro ride or taxi ride away. Be sure to at least dip your feet in the healing waters of the Mediterranean.
With bullfighting now banned in Barcelona, a Flamenco Show is a great option for some evening entertainment. No need to worry about finding a place to eat after the show ends – everything is still bustling well into the next day.
I have a “Been there, Done that” attitude with some cities and countries I have visited. However, there is an energetic soul in Barcelona which will draw me back.
If planning an international meeting, Barcelona is a very friendly and safe city which will embrace your attendees. If travelling to other parts of Europe, whether for business or pleasure, consider adding Barcelona to your itinerary. Picasso said it best: “(Barcelona) is where it all began. There is where I understood how far I could go”
Jill is a travel agent and meeting/event planner. She would love to get more exposure so please contact her with any freelance opportunities.