Bustling Barcelona

Port-stop of­fers quick glimpse at mag­i­cal city

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - By Ron Pradinuk

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.

PHO­TOS BY RON PRADINUK / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Bo­gatell Beach, in Barcelona, a crowded hotspot not far from the city cen­tre.

Iconic sculp­tures by Gaudi on La Sagrada Fa­milia.

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