This is the second installment of BARE blog's Travel Log series, a four-part collection highlighting the globe-trekking explorations by BARE bloggers. Leaving picked-over tourist attractions for the masses, our bloggers will share the in's and out's of Paris, Barcelona, Sydney, and Seoul. Here's Elizabeth Maxim's account of her findings in Barcelona, Spain.
By day a chic and eclectic city bustling with a diverse mix of business people, jet setters, artists, tourists, and beach bums, and by night an exciting world of club-goers and late-night revelers, Barcelona is truly a city of wonder. Bordered on one side by the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona has it all - the gorgeous beaches, the rich culture, the impressive art and architecture, the thriving downtown, the amazing food, and of course, the nightlife, which doesn’t stop until the sun comes up! While I could literally write an entire book of awesome things to do in one of my favorite cities in the world, here are just a few hidden gems that I think you shouldn’t miss:
Here's an example of La Boqueria's fresh fruit and veggie stands. Photographed by the author.
La Boqueria: Walk by too quickly and you might miss it, but tucked away just off of Barcelona’s main shopping street, La Rambla, announced by an unassuming stained-glass sign, lies this public market which dates back to the 1200's. Step inside and you are greeted by a loud and bustling market with rows and rows of everything from colorful stacks of fresh fruits and veggies to bins chock-full of tasty nuts, cheeses, and candies to jars of exotic olive oil and dipping sauces. For a couple of euros you can get a delicious fruit smoothie with flavors like passion fruit and strawberry coconut. If you’re not scared off by the whole pigs and other animal parts lying on display in glass cases, head over to the stalls near the back of the market for better deals. La Boqueria can be overwhelming at first, but snagging a bowl of fresh strawberries, a slice of juicy watermelon, or a skewer of perfectly seasoned beef for just a few euros makes it all worth it!
A view of the Parque Ciutadella. Photographed by the author.
Parque Ciutadella (Park of the Citadel): Pass under the spectacular Arch of Triumph and down a walkway lined with old men playing bocce ball, groups of teens riding their bicycles, and women gossiping while their children play, and you will reach this wonderful park that is often overlooked by tourists. Originally built as the site of a military citadel to defend Barcelona in the early eighteenth century, Parque Ciutadella is now a gathering place for Barcelona locals of all ages to come relax and get away from the crowded city. A maze of pathways, grassy knolls, and lakes, this sprawling park is a fun place to go for a jog, take a nap, read a good book, or just hang out. Take a ride in one of the little paddle boats on the lake, join in a lively game of table tennis with some of the locals, or order a “bikini” (ham and cheese sandwich) and sit down by the cascading waterfall to people-watch. My roommates and I came here with a blanket, a bottle of wine, and some fruit and cheese purchased from La Boqueria, and had a picnic on the grass, a relaxing way to unwind from a busy week.
Museu Picasso: When most people think of Picasso, they think of paintings of abstract people with square faces, three eyes, and skin in shades of blue or green. While Picasso is most famous for his Cubist period, he in fact produced many different styles of art, not only with painting but with ceramics and engravings as well. Nestled in the heart of Barcelona, this museum houses hundreds of Picasso originals. I was amazed at the wide variety of works on display, from dark, twisted sketches to lifelike portraits to bright tropical scenes of the seaside. Museu Picasso also showcases some of the artist’s very first works, including a whimsical collection of bowls shaped like faces and a watercolor of a multicolored turtle painted when the artist was just a child. And, of course, there is still a good deal of abstract Cubism for those who want to see the traditional Picasso works we are all familiar with.
What are your favorite places in Barcelona? Comment away!