Guest Author - Julie Fredrick
Do you have spring fever? I know I do. Atlanta, Georgia has had a cold, wet winter, along with much of the rest of the Northern hemisphere. With springtime just around the corner, you are probably yearning for some warm sunshine in an inviting environment. Barcelona, Spain may be just the remedy for the winter doldrums.
Spain’s second largest city (and the largest city of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia) sits prestigiously on the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the shores of the Mediterranean. Barcelona is actually a compilation of several multi-faceted cities. While the city’s Gothic center remains mostly intact and well preserved, Barcelona is at the same time a modern metropolis.
While the temperatures may still be a bit chilly for swimming at the beach, it is comfortable for exploring the wonderful outdoor activities that this city has to offer.
A perfect way to enjoy the city is by embarking on a tapas tour, walking through the food stalls in the Boqueria food market. Tapas are various types of appetizers or snacks, often combined to make an entire meal. But my favorite way to enjoy them in their country of origin is to share one or two with a companion and move on to the next tapas bar. Chefs use local, seasonal ingredients, including produce, seafood and fruit. Wash them down with Cava (the local sparkling wine), sangria or a beer.
Las Ramblas is a must for any trip to Barcelona. With its crowded markets, over priced tapas bars, and tons of tourists and locals alike, this is the city’s most famous avenue.
The Collserola Park is a beautiful microcosm of Mediterranean forests. Two of the most interesting sights are the Hermitage of Sant Medir and the Natural Reserve of Font Groga. In addition to the many trails, natural springs and athletic fields, the park also contains the tallest building in Barcelona-the Collserola Tower. At 288 meters, the tower was built for the 1992 Summer Olympics to afford the city with better telecommunications, as well as to change the skyline.
During the late winter/early spring, a trip to this part of Spain would be incomplete without taking in a calcotada. What, you ask is a calcotada? It is a seasonal barbeque that features the calcot--a long, slender member of the onion family that resembles a leek. Grilled ceremoniously with other celebratory dishes and dipped in a pungent sauce, calcots are typically served with white beans, sausages and lamb. Red wine accompanies the feast.
Barcelona’s comprehensive public transport system includes a bus network, the metro, two separate modern tram networks, a separate historic tram line, funiculars and and several aerial cable cars.
While Barcelona is a fine destination for year-around travel, spring offers up some of the most pleasant weather with half the crowds.