OK – I agree. 24 Hours in Barcelona is simply not enough BUT if that’s all the time you’ve got to explore this vibrant city then consider the following.
Kick-start the day the delicious way with thick, dark hot chocolate served with fried doughy churros at Granja La Palleresa on Carrer de Petritxol regarded as one of the city’s best chocolaterias and you’ll be fueled up for a morning’s sightseeing.
An eminently walk-able city, a short stroll through Barcelona can stretch like elastic into endless sources of pleasure so with limited time, it’s worth taking a more structured approach. Book an English language walking tour with the Barcelona Tourism Office located on Catalunya Square where daily programs include exploring Europe’s finest Medieval district, Barri Gotic, discovering the food markets and exploring an outdoor ‘museum’ of Catalan Art Nouveau buildings in the Eixample district. www.barcelonaturisme.com
Walk in the footsteps of a young Picasso who came to Barcelona with his family in 1895. Sites of his youthful bohemian life include The Four Cats tavern where he held his first exhibition (the menus still bear his drawings), the studio near the waterfront his father rented for him and the Gothic Quarter where he modeled his break-through work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon on the ‘working girls’ of the streets. The Picasso tour concludes with free admission to the Museu Picasso housed in five grand Gothic palaces on Carrer de Montcada. www.museupicasso.bcn.es
As shutters roll down for the siesta, the Textil Café is the perfect lunch spot for the museum-weary. Set in a pretty courtyard across from the Museu Picasso, this former inner-city palace of Medieval merchants offers well priced snacks, cakes and coffee.
Antoni Gaudi’s ornate, fluidly fantastical buildings have defined and transformed Barcelona into one of the world’s most architecturally avant-garde cities where the bourgeoisie built their ultimate acquisitions – Gaudi-designed futuristic homes. Between 1904 and 1906, Gaudi completely remodeled Amatller House while neighbouring Battlo House was transformed into an emblematic masterpiece inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Exploring the undulating artistry and use of light, form and texture, it’s easy to see why Salvador Dali commented that Gaudi had “built a house of sea forms….a veritable sculpture.”
At Passeig de Gracia 92, Gaudi’s Casa Mila was quickly renamed ‘La Pedrera’ (the stone quarry) by locals when the daringly curved apartment building was completed in 1910. In its vaulted attic, an atmospheric museum has been established where fourteen of Gaudi’s works spanning 1883 to 1926 are displayed under 800 arches which lead to the celebrated rooftop where chimneys and ventilation shafts stand like futuristic titans.
During summer, Barcelona has lots of free concerts in city parks and most museums are free one day each month but to see the best public art for nothing, catch a train to Parc Guell high above Lesseps Square. This is where Gaudi’s organic collaboration with nature inspired him to design buildings and fairy-tale ornamental structures across a 15 hectare public park. Browse for Gaudi-esque jewellery in the little store and spread out on the undulating mosaic-covered bench drinking in sensational city views. Open daily 10am to 9pm. Carrer d’Olot
A favourite with the fashion pack, frock-up and head for the rooftop cocktail bar at Hotel Claris Grand Luxe, a must-be-seen-at destination with the city sparkling below. Carrer de Pau Claris 150. www.slh.com/claris/ From here, the sculptural forms of another favourite son, Joan Miro, decorate La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous promenade that stretches to the sea. Overflowing with flower stalls, entertainment and the ubiquitous ‘human statues’, turn into Carrers Tallers and Riera Baixa where the night markets sell everything from bootleg cds to striped Picasso t.shirts.
Tapas isn’t snack food it’s a national pastime and small plates of Spanish delicacies like grilled sardines, whitebait and torrades are enjoyed at any time of the day washed down with a glass of wine often straight from the barrel. Tapas crawl La Rambla’s crowded laneways but take care when strolling in the Ravel or Gotic districts as pick-pocketing has become a competitive sport! La Bodegueta on Rambla de Catalunya is an atmospheric old-fashioned tapas bar tucked away in a cellar dishing up traditional tomato bread with simple toppings. For something more elegant, La Vinyor del Senyor opposite the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Mar on Placa Santa Maria serves exquisite bite-sized tapas. Barcelona’s seafront had a facelift for the 1992 Olympics and the legacy is Port Olimpic, one of the city’s foremost entertainment spots with over forty bars and restaurants signposted by Frank Gehry’s shimmering copper fish and Roy Lichtenstein’s modernistic sculpture “The Faces of Barcelona.”
Barcelona loves a good time and the Spanish definitely know how to par-tay. El Ravel is the city’s bar district but for those who prefer their cocktails with a twist of jazz, Jamboree at Placa Reial 17 is a club with classy credentials that swings every night while Speakeasy Dry Martini (Aribau 162-166) has a cult following amongst authentic cocktail lovers. Tinta Roja Es[ao d’Art on Carrer de la Creu dels Molers is a tiny, timeless little bar with tango lessons on Tuesdays, live performances at weekends or join the non-stop party at Bar Aurora at Carrer de l’Aurora 7, a hip, arty little bar furnished with flea market finds. To check what’s on go to www.bcn.es
www.barcelonaturisme.com for general information.
Tags: 24 Hours in Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona Tourism, Barri Gotic, Catalan Art Nouveau, Frank Gehry, Hotel Claris Grand Luxe, La Pedrera, La Rambla, La Vinyor del Senyor, Medieval, Museu Picasso, Parc Guell, Picasso, Placa Santa Maria, Port Olimpic, Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dali, Santa Maria del Mar, Spanish Tourism, tango lessons, www.barcelonaturisme.com, www.museupicasso.bcn.es