What could be better this time of the year than a European vacation? And what better place to satisfy that desire than the beautiful city of Barcelona?
Barcelona is not in the heart of Spain, but sits on the top right tip of the country on the Mediterranean coast. Barcelona is located in Catalunya (or Catalonia) an Autonomous Community, having it’s own culture and customs. In this lovely city one does not speak Spanish. Because of its location, Barcelona is home to one of the oldest languages in the world, Catalan. The language, hard to understand at first, can be picked up as your vacation continues.
Hotel Condal is one of the most popular hotels in this magical city. Dating back to 1850, Hotel Condal is not only classic, simple and affordable, but also it is located just 30 meters from Placa Catalunya, a large center square in the heart of Barcelona. Visit the Bloomingdale’s of Spain, El Corte Ingles, a huge superstore that celebrates luxury. Part of the largest department store chain in Spain, El Corte Ingles even has a supermarket.
After you shop, you can follow several different pathways from Placa Catalunya, eventually finding your way to the city’s many famous avenues and boulevards. Las Ramblas, connecting Placa Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell, is a tree-lined pedestrian mall.
Along the sidewalks are bakeries, flower sellers, bookstores and one of the country’s largest outdoor marketplaces, El Mercat de la Boqueria, in existence since 1827. Full of every imaginable fruit, meat, and fish, the delightful atmosphere will captivate you. Vendors will give you samples and stories galore. You can take photographs of the street performers and older men chatting away. Side streets are full of cafes, and outdoor dining even when the weather is a bit brisk.
Strolling through Las Ramblas, stop for a drink at one of the many wine bars or pubs. There are many to choose from, catering to all tastes and moods. Looking for a place to dine? Try Restaurant Biblioteca, a medium sized restaurant with an open kitchen so you can see and smell your upcoming dish being made. While the trendy bohemian atmosphere is appealing, the true attraction is the restaurant’s famous apple tart, one of the best desserts you will find anywhere.
Pablo Picasso did not live far from Las Ramblas. Museu Picasso boasts an impressive collection of this Spanish artist’s paintings and sculptures, including some sketches from an old Moleskin notebook. A peak inside will leave you feeling like you knew Picasso personally.
There are too many gems at Las Ramblas to mention them all. Some are not even listed in guide books and must be found through personal exploration. Seeing is believing in Las Ramblas, so go, wander through its beauty, and find your own small jewel to make this journey your own.
For more information, go to the following websites:
El Corte Ingles: http://www.elcorteingles.es/
Boqueria Market: http://www.boqueria.info/Eng/index.php
Biblioteca Restaurant: http://www.bibliotecarestaurant.cat/
Museu Picasso: http://www.museupicasso.bcn.es/
Top Photo and photos of mime and mushrooms by Vanessa Prat