Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
Breakfast in Barcelona was eaten on the balcony of our cabin on board the ms Noordam of Holland America Lines as the captain gracefully maneuvered our ship into its berth for our two day port of call in one of Spain’s most fabulous cities.
My first impression of the city was that we were going to need more than two days to do justice to its many sights and attractions. There is a wonderful juxtaposition bwteen old world and new in this thirving and bustling city.
It takes time to see Barcelona properly from the gothic quarters to the collection of Avant-garde architecture by Gaudy sprinkled throughout the city.
It takes time to visit “Barceloneta” (little Barcelona) for wine and tapas. A most delicious and very Spanish way to end the day with a glass of wine and appetizers. Barceloneta is an unexpected stretch of beach in this city. Why unexpected? Most port cities, although situated on water, very rarely have a sparkling, manicured stretch of beach on which to sun or walk, especially one located so close to the heart of the city. I think the sparkling clean beaches of this city are one of the best surprises.
This is the heart and epicenter for tourist Barcelona; this 2km avenue stretches from the Plaza de Catalunya, Barcelona’s central square, to the statue of the explorer Columbus on the seafront. The name is from the Arabic word, ramla, meaning dried river bed. This area is especially busy at night with musicians, mime artists, tarot readers, and, of course, lots and lots of shops. In 1771, Prince Phillip V used his new world wealth to build a baroque style palace. Barcelona’s Opera House would be built in this area in 1847 and would be rebuilt twice following fires in 1861 and 1994.
Gaudy and the City
The work of this famed architect is scattered throughout the city from his still-to-be-completed masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, is perhaps Europe’s most unconventional cathedral. Gaudy was not the original architect, but was brought into the project after a year of construction, given the task of completing the structure and changed almost everything, improvising as he went. It would become his lie’s work and he lived a reclusive life on site for the last 16 years of his life. At his death only a single tower had been completed. His most famous work, La Sagrada Familia is still to be completed, but many fine examples of his finished work are sprinkled throughout the city.