Port-stop offers quick glimpse at magical city
IT is often described as one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. Its architecture is world-renowned. Its beaches draw superlatives, and its cuisine is exceptional. This is the magical city of Barcelona. With our Mediterranean cruise itinerary scheduled for only one full day stop here, to be able to come to support all those conclusions, my wife and I knew we would have to be in constant motion for much of the time. Normally, other than a quick overview tour, we like to explore a new city at our own pace. On this day we would join a small guided group to help shuttle us around more quickly and effectively. Notwithstanding the fact that Barcelona, when its suburbs are included, has a population of nearly five million people, and is the seventh largest in the European Union, as we progressed through our city tour, it did not feel like a mega city. That may well be because of the number of pedestrian streets that offer residents and tourists alike the chance to wander through the core, without feeling the usual traffic din one feels in many cities. One of our early stops took us to the top of the hills overlooking Barcelona. The huge size of the city hits home more forcefully here. It is a stunning view, punctuated by the one building that captures everyone’s attention, on one hand for its for its uniqueness, on the other for shock linked to questions of why it was allowed to be put there to stand out in such a jarring manner in the first place. Designed for one of Spain’s biggest companies by famous French architect, Jean Nouval, the structure is supposed to represent a huge water fountain that constantly changes its appearance because of the coloured aluminum that covers it. Locals often refer to it as a suppository or a part of the male anatomy. With this portion of the tour enabling us to capture a feel of the city, we would descend back down to sea level to experience some of the other architectural wonders that have made Barcelona a destination, for this fact alone. While its architectural history goes back 2000 years, in modern terms this reputation was built in large part through the designs of one man.
Bogatell Beach, in Barcelona, a crowded hotspot not far from the city centre.
Iconic sculptures by Gaudi on La Sagrada Familia.