Thursday, January 20, 2011

Barcelona's Best

It has been more than 3 weeks since I got back from Spain and I still miss the place. Barcelona would be the place I miss most, I would say. Why? Here are my top 10 highlights of the beautiful city :

1. 'Gaudi'sm - Antonio Gaudi is Barcelona's most celebrated architect. You can see that he has touched every possible corners of Barcelona. The architect, which worked during the Art Noveou (Modernisme) period in early 1900's, had a style believed to be way advanced than his time. His masterpieces include Casa Batllo, Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia. It is not just the buildings he had built, but the story of the man himself is inspirational. His dedication to the city, his hard work, optimisim and forward thinking makes one think of him in absolute admiration.

2. Casa Batllo was designed by Gaudi for an aristocrat Josep Batllo. The house mimics skulls, bones and marine life. One thing that was truly fascinating about this house is that it was designed with no plan to start with.

3. Parc Guell is a park for Barcelona specially dedicated by the former aristocrats of the city. This park has a heavy Gaudi influence, evident from the stunning stone structures and mosaic tilings. Colourful dragon tiling, tree-trunk-like twisting rock pillars fill the park. Once up on the terrace, one can overlook the beautiful Barcelona city.

4. Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's gothic giant temple/church still under construction since 1882. When Gaudi died in 1926 and could not finish what he had envisioned the church to be, it was estimated that it would between 30 to 80 years before the construction of this place to complete. By the look of it, I don't think it will complete any soon. Do you know that the architects of our KLCC had an inspiration to build our megastructure from this tourist must-see? It is indeed a unique, one-of-its-kind structure one would say they have set their eyes on.

5. La Rambla is one of Barcelona's landmark. It's a street of over 1 kilometre and filled with shops, kiosks, flower stalls and street artists. It's a lively street and you can just go there to people watch.

6. La Boquiera is one of the interesting places on La Rambla. It's a fresh produce market but let me tell you something, it is nothing like the wet markets we have here in Malaysia. It is so colourful, buzzing with activity and of course, tourists like me with cameras in their hands. I was like a kid in a candy store, excited to see all the local produce which I had never seen before. All that fruits, vegetables, seafood, spices and chocolates made me feel right at home. We stopped for lunch at one of the seafood bars they have there. And my, I don't think I had ever tasted seafood that fresh!

7. Zara & Massimo Dutti - I don't think this needs further elaboration. But one thing for sure, I totally went bonkers with Ms Zara and Mr Dutti. Imagine that you can get the latest arrival for at least 40% cheaper than what you can get here. They are everywhere in Barcelona and I came out with at least 2 tops at every store I stopped at.

8. Shoes - The Spaniards are shoe lovers I guess. Barcelona is full of shoe shops. They've got the varieties, the quality and price is rather reasonable. Ballerina flats, espadrilles, boots, flip flops. One can go crazy with all the interesting colours and designs they have.

9. Nou Camp - The real reason why we were there in the first place - football! The city is really big on football and if you could see how footballers there worshipped, you'll know what I mean. Move aside, English football, I think Spanish football is definitely bigger! The stadium is almost double of the English stadiums all over England and the training ground is superb! We were told that over hundreds locals fans wait outside the training ground every day just to catch a glimpse of their favourite footballers.

10. Food - Churro, succulent seafood, coffee, paella, chocolate, fresh fruits, caramel, endless choices of pastries..need I say more? I was in foodie heaven!

I remember telling myself about 13 years ago when I first stepped onto Barcelona's soil that I would definitely be back. To have the opportunity to be one with the culture and beauty of the city again was great indeed. And to be there with my loved one was definitely a cherry on top!