I Love BarcelonaBy Angus Drummond -
I love Barcelona. I love the smell, the taste and the overall feel of the city when I’m there. Nothing makes me happier than strolling around this wonderful urban dwelling.
After scores of visits I realised that, even though I always manage to keep myself busy, I’ve never visited any of Barcelona’s main attractions. So I asked myself what it is I really like to do in this great city. I came up with my 5 favourite ways to let your soul fall in love with the heart of the Mediterranean.
1. Nibble and stroll in the Ciutat Vella
Whenever I visit Barcelona, the first item on my to-do list is to spend an afternoon strolling around the Ciutat Vella. It is Barcelona’s old city, made up of Los Barrios (the neighbourhoods) of Raval, Gotic, Bareloneta and Born. Every single street is overflowing with colourful character and has the added bonus of being flat and well paved, making it very easy to navigate. A lot of the streets have been re-surfaced in recent years so it is a dream playground for wheelchair users, and the fact that the area is filled with wonderful cafés and bars means you’re never far from a tasty pit stop! If you’re looking for a quick bite grab a slice of one of the best pizzas I have tasted from Pizza Circus (http://www.pizzacircusbcn.com) in El Raval. For a tranquil lunch head to La Candela (http://www.timeout.com/barcelona/restaurants/la-candela), a romantic retreat in a secret square near the Arc de Triumfo. For something more sophisticated don’t miss out on Mosiquito in the heart of El Born (http://www.mosquitotapas.com/), a wonderful oriental/tapas fusion that will tantalise your taste buds.
2. Scoot around like a local
One of the best ways to get around a city like Barcelona is on your own transport. Cars are often too expensive so scooters are the only option. Due to mobility issues you might think it’s impossible to ride a scooter – well not in Barcelona! The wonderful W4nted rental shop on Carrer Ample has a range of adapted options available to hire including a three wheeled scooter and ‘scooter cars’. If you do decide to get one, nothing will give you greater pleasure than swerving in amongst the traffic for a day whilst you explore the outer reaches of the city.
3. Chill in the Ciutadella
After a couple of chilled days in Barcelona I need to chill out some more! One option is to head to the beach, but for me it’s all about the Parc de la Ciutadella. Every time I go there I feel like I’ve arrived in my spiritual home – anyone who’s spent an afternoon lounging there will know why. Sundays are the best, but busiest, time to visit. The place is alive with musicians, samosa men, tight rope walkers, family birthday parties, magicians, beer sellers, capoeira dancers and much more. The paths throughout the park are flat and generally well maintained, and there are a number of benches and places to rest. The best spot is right in the middle where you can lie on the grass and listen to the sounds of life slowly passing by to the beat of an African drum.
4. Marvel at the magic of the Fountain
Every Friday and Saturday night at 9pm the fountains at Plaza Espanya come alive in a wonderful show of lights, music and magnificent jets of water (http://w110.bcn.cat/portal/site/FontMagica/&lang=en_GB?lang=en_GB). I like to get there a few hours early and combine it with a visit to the palace at Montjuic (escalator access to the top). You can get the bus from the centre of town or the metro to Plaza Espanya, which has elevator access. Whilst in the area make sure you visit the renovated bullring. For a few euros you can take the elevator to the top of the building and experience some great views of the city.
5. Hop on a train to the Cornwall of Catalonia
When the sun is shining and I want a different taste of Catalonia, I love to hop on board a train to Sitges, a smart seaside town with lots of great cafés, shops and restaurants – ‘The Cornwall of Catalonia’. Trains take 40 minutes and leave regularly from Sants Estacio – or if you’re staying in the Ciutat Vella, catch it from Estacio Franca. Both stations are very accessible and most of the trains, though not all, have lowered access for wheelchair users (more info: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/transport/stations/estacio-sants/disabled-facilities-barcelona-sants.html). At Sitges there are elevators on all platforms and from the station it is a ten minute walk downhill to the beach. There is ramped access to the sand at a number of points on the promenade, and it is possible to get to the water’s edge via the paths which run alongside the sea breakers jutting out into the waves. For a nice sunset head to the port at Agua Dulce (a 30 minute walk up and downhill or a 5 minute taxi) and sip on a glass of cava to watch the sun end the day.