• AK

Barcelona + Sights and Bites

Barcelona is a place so rich and marvellous in many ways. To some, it may well be all about Sagrada Familia and La Rambla, which are awesome places indeed. In fact, it has a history among the oldest in Europe, a collection of beautiful Romanesque churches, and celebrates the greatest names in modern art and architecture - Dali, Miro, Picasso and Gaudi, you name it, and their signatures etched throughout the city.

Barcelona sits between the sea and the mountains, offering the best of both natural environments. Ranked number 1 in the world as the best beach city by National Geographic Travel and with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites; from tasty traditional Catalan cuisine to the most refreshing beer and sangria, a week's holiday there was never enough to experience this amazing city, not forgetting the need to take siestas the Barcelonian way.

Travelling from the airport to the hotel and admiring the endless blocks of charming streetscape and city fabric through the bleary rain washed taxi window.

Ayres Hotel lobby. Great location, great value.

Caffeine fix and lunch at Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats), a quaint, bohemian, artsy bar and restaurant opened in 1897 with an eclectic charm and colourful history. It was a place which young Picasso used to hangout.

Tapas buffet dinner.

Tapas buffet dinner.

Just off the Rambla is the famous Plaza Reial. Built in the mid 19th Century, the Plaza is surrounded by a fine arcade facade, palm trees and lamps designed by Gaudi. A perfect place to sit down, do nothing, and watch time goes by.

Pavement mosaic by Joan Miró at La Rambla that is as old as me.

Took this to remind myself of where I was and what the weather was like, quite clearly.

The paella needs no intro. Tasty Spanish rice bomba is usually used, cooked over wood fire delivering a golden thin blanket of moist rice, often with succulent seafood.

Casa Milà or "la Pedrera" as it is often called, is probably Gaudi's second most popular building in Barcelona.

Somewhat surrealistic chimneys dominating the rooftop of Casa Milà.

Close up of a tiled chimney on the roof of Casa Milà.

One of the two large circular patios in Case Milà. This allows almost every part of the house to get its share of sunlight.

Casa Batlló is a building designed and restored by Antoni Gaudí.

Ceiling and lighting design in Casa Batlló.

Glazed tiles in the central light well in Casa Batlló. The blue tiles changes from light to dark as the light well rises to the skylight, The intent is to create a visually compensated blue gradation as it gets brighter near the skylight.

Close up detail of the tile profile.

Casa Batlló catenary arches.

Montserrat, a mountain top monastery. Situated atop an unusual rock mountain accessible mainly by cable car. A popular among Catalans and Catholic pilgrims to see the Black Madonna.

Breathtaking view from Montserrat. The building houses a viewing deck and the main restaurant, offering stunning views while enjoying your lunch.

Lunch at Montserrat - Buffet spread with salad and cold dishes. Salmon overdose.

Nice bottle of Spanish white with my salmon.

A daily doze of my favourite Estrella. Perfectly ice cold.

Barcelona is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Europe. Ample bicycle rental shops around if you wish to see the city on two wheels.

MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum) is dedicated to works from the second half of the 20th century. Needless to say who the architect is (clue: white building).

MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum).

MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum).

Inside MACBA. I wonder what the artwork is about and I also wonder what was going through his head. Both equally blank I guess.

Stopping by the art shop at MACBA.

Bird bathing in a fountain at the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, a former hospital complex built from the 15th to 18th century in El Raval.

Spot the pigeon. Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu.

Ubiquitous jamón ibérico at Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria.

Merchant preparing and cutting the jamón ibérico at la Boqueria.

Queuing up for a quick lunch at a pizza stall inside la Boqueria. Freshly made, freshly baked.

The Palau Güell. Window detail.

The Palau Güell. The central hall is stunningly covered by a perforated parabolic dome, inviting subtle natural light into the hall.

Colourful chimneys on the roof of Palau Güell. Twenty of them in total to be exact.

Some chimneys wrapped in broken glazed tiles. Palau Güell.

Love is in the air, on the roof of Palau Güell.

Play of shadows on a railing in Palau Güell.

Palau Güell from the street.

The church of Sant Pau del Camp (Spanish for Saint Paul of the countryside) is the oldest church in Barcelona, built in the 10th century.

Montjuïc Castle.

Basking in the sun and enjoying the view of the Magic Fountain (and the two girls) from the plaza of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC).

"Less is more" indeed. Do spend some time at the Barcelona Pavilion and admire the spaces in tranquillity and profundity. A subtle masterpiece by Mies van der Rohe.

Timeless icon. The elegant Barcelona Chair, where it was born.

Beauty of simplicity and materiality.


Walking tall, symbolically. Taken from the rooftop viewing terrace of Arenas. It offers a fantastic 360 degrees view of the city and with plenty of restaurants to offer.

Green day. Taken from the rooftop viewing terrace of Arenas.

Diagonally Diagonal.

Park Güell, one of most famous and impressive public park in the world. Designed by Gaudi and built in the early 20th century, which actually was a failed real estate project.

Spire of the porter's lodge building at the entrance of Park Güell.

Roof details of the porter's lodge building at the entrance of Park Güell.

The ceiling of the Hypostyle Room, a space designed to be the market for the estate. The ceiling is decorated with small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.

The Hypostyle Room is made up of 84 striated columns inspired in the Doric order.

The iron gates and fence designed in the shape of palm leaves at Park Güell.

A boy sitting at the edge of the Portico, Park Güell.

Bird flu moment, Park Güell.

Viewing deck at Tibidabo. At 512 meters it is the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola, providing spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline.

Statue of Jesus at the very top of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (The Church of the Sacred Heart) on Tibidabo hill.

The Palau de la Música Catalana, old and new.

Outside Petit Palau, a modern auditorium opened in 2004, ideal for chamber music or small-format concerts within the Palau de la Música Catalana.

Planning for the following day's itinerary. Hoping that some Barcelonian inspiration in the blood would help.

Busker in the train. Adds interest, warmth and life into the otherwise cold and humdrum journey.

Museu Marítim de Barcelona (Maritime Museum of Barcelona). Installed in the royal arsenals dating from 1378 and are the biggest and most complete Medieval dockyards in the world.

The Maremagnum shopping centre in the Port of Barcelona. It is fronted by a waterfront promenade with a wide selection of F&B.

Lunch at Maremagnum. A natural choice in the hot summer afternoon.

The museum of the History of Catalonia located in the Palau de Mar. It is the only building of Barcelona's Old Port still standing. Quite clearly, it sits by the sea.

Start from young. Children playing football (both real and improvised) on the streets. A common sight that could equal to that of children playing with iPads in Singapore.

Barceloneta, probably the most well-known and popular beach in Barcelona. This is a 10m tall sculpture L’Estel Ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star).

A wonderful way to spend the day at Barceloneta.

Beautiful stretch of sandy Barcelona beach, 4.5km in total. W Hotel in the background.

Residential back lane in La Barceloneta district.

Dinner at L'Emperador, located within the majestic Palau de Mar. Good food with a great view of Port Vell.

Paella at L'Emperador, Port Vell.

I only know they are famous as I see their faces everywhere. Window display in conversation with the streetscape.

Mercat Santa Caterina is the latest market built in Barcelona, located in the district of Ribera. Striking multi-coloured ceramics roof having the shape of wave posed on an air structure of wood, providing shelter to all the stalls of the market.

Merchant inside Mercat Santa Caterina.

Interesting architecture of the Habitatges amb Serveis per a Gent Gran (Elderly Housing) behind Mercat Santa Caterina. Notice the externally mounted sliding cum casement louvred windows with a unique expression on the external wall, especially on the curved surface.

An old lady inside Mercat Santa Caterina.

Stalls inside Mercat Santa Caterina.

The Estelada is a non-official flag typically waved by Catalan independentists to express their support for independent Catalonia (Spain) in the early 20th century. Today, it is more of an urban Catalonian deco, which does make the city a tad more colourful and eventful.

More of the Estelada flag, ubiquitous on the streets of Barcelona.

Stained glass rose window in Santa Maria del Mar.

Santa Maria del Mar, the most beautiful example of early Catalan Gothic architecture. It is famous for its proportional balance and harmony.

Perfect drink while alfresco lunching in the courtyard in front of Santa Maria del Mar.

Wondering which car groomer did the owner go to?

Framed - Plaza Reial.

Old and new. Reflection on the 5-storey ZARA at Av. Portal d'Angel.

Catching the flypast.

Old buildings at Av. Portal d'Angel, a shopping district with many flagship stores from Zara, Mango, H&M, Massimo Dutti, Benetton, etc.

Enjoying my last evening view of Sagrada Familia, and my Tempranillo of course. From Av. de Gaudi.

Facts and Figures

Date of Trip: 29 April to 8 May 2013

Accommodation: Ayre Hotel Rosellon

Equipment: Samsung NX1000, 16mm f2.4, 30mm f2, 85mm f1.4, 50-200mm; Samsung EX2F


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