28 October 2013

España: Te Amo Y Estoy Contigo!

Are you craving for the warmer climate of Europe's Mediterranean? I suggest Spain, but not the usual haunts that attract the Brits abroad! I had the chance to visit the region of Catalonia, which is home to the outstanding city of Barcelona. Choose to fly from Birmingham Airport, where Monarch Airlines flies to BCN's El Prat Airport! No seas estúpido! Adiós ahora Inglaterra!

Barcelona is the perfect city to experience a slice of Spanish sophistication! I traveled to Spain's cultural capital during the first week of July 2013 and I do feel like I'm still in love with this city now in October 2013. To the left is 'La Rambla' where the best alfresco dining options are ripe for the picking. Finding your bearings in this part of town is really easy as most of the main streets crisscross with 'La Rambla' so getting lost is pretty much out of the question. Take the metro to see the city of a thousand streets for time isn't always on our sides so I like to be the transport savvy traveller, Barcelona helped me with that part! Barcelona has many tales that pickpockets are on the lookout, but during my time I didn't come across any harm and felt safe at all times! I'm intrigued by other parts of Spain but Barcelona proved to be the city for me to experience my Spanish inquisition during the summer of 2013.

Escape the dreariness that can be Mother England to experience 'Plaça de Catalunya' to be part of the action in and amongst the vibe of Barcelona's heart. Keep your ears open because Spanish isn't the main language spoken within this region of Spain for Catalan is widely spoken, its more like a dialect but don't let the locals hear you say that! Keeping with the foodie theme take a stroll along 'La Rambla' where you shall find a wondrous market known as the 'Mercat de Sant Josep la Boqueria'. This market welcomes you with a whole host of pungent and alluring aromas, get lost within the many aisles of this endearing market where even the fish section looks very appetising! I still have visions about that market for their was an abundance of colour, vibrancy and a sense of community within the urban sprawl that is Barcelona! Barcelona choose me for a reason! Need I say anything more about Barcelona being the perfect Summer getaway for 2014?! Donde esta mi Barcelona?! Vamos B!

Need I be so careless not to mention another reason why to visit Barcelona. For the great Antoni Gaudi, architect and genius has left a rich treasure chest of places to admire in Barcelona. Captured to the right is 'Parc Guell' a stunning work of art that stands over Barcelona's unique city skyline, its a picture postcard view for sure! I'm hopeful that you've heard of the 'Sagrada Familia?' I suggest to visit this Gaudi themed point of interest last due to its complexity and its knack for getting seriously busy. Back to the park, I could of stood there all day without a care in the world. Te Amo 'Parc Guell!' It was the first time I felt like I was in my own postcard! Barcelona is chic in one breath but historically charming in the next with its timeless architecture, its always easy to get lost in the side streets that eventually lead back to 'La Rambla'. The works of Gaudi suited me just fine, but still no Brits abroad! Don't ever!

A house made of bones? I know it's a peculiar term of phrase but artistically the 'Casa Batllo' was believed to be crafted out of bones. This former stately home was once the residences to one of Barcelona's richest families that preserved this architectural wonder, helping it become the museum it stands to serve as today. I don't usually entertain museums but I was astounded by the beauty that this building inhibits! Get down to the 'Passeig de Garcia' to experience the house that never had a construction plan but turned out to be spectacular! The icing on the cake has to be the 'Sagrada Familia' meaning 'Sacred Family' in English this cathedral towers over Barcelona with its Gothic designs, setting the tone for Barcelona's unique flare of architectural icons. This magnificent place of worship has been a work in progress since 1882 its projected to be completed in 2026! Get to the 'Sagrada Familia' early to beat the queues to make the best of this wonder!

After I had spent two days in Barcelona, I simply had to see more of this heavenly region! Take the Renfe Media Distancia train from Barcelona Sants Station to Tarragona. Spend the afternoon walking around this historical and culturally rich town, be amazed by its understated beauty and let it touch your heart! Captured to the left is 'La Plaça del Font' the courtyard that took me back to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico! From that point of view I guess Tarragona could of been a blueprint for San Juan, Puerto Rico? This small oasis of calm is made up of many rustic eateries and is the home of the 'Ajuntament de Tarragona' council headquarters. Be wise of what trains are going in what direction, I took my train from the seaside town of Sitges and got a little mixed up with the lines but everything runs on the same line. It's a place that sets the tone for a day's worth of premium sightseeing! Tarragona sure stole my heart!

Step back to Roman times by taking some time out to see the 'Tarragona Amphitheatre' as it has great views overlooking the Mediterranean sea! Tarragona does have a quaint beach but let's leave the sun worshiping for another time. Take a stroll down 'Rambla Nova de Tarragona' to be at the centre of the action for this is where the locals do their shopping and its the perfect way to be at one with 'Balcon de Mediterraneo' translating to the 'Balcony of the Mediterranean'. Tarragona isn't the grandest of places but it has a special small town feeling that take the stress away from Barcelona even though things don't get to stressful their either. I admire places that ooze character and Tarragona did just that so all is well. Lunch time in Tarragona is a special time for a bite to eat at one of the the side-street restaurants that have the best lunch deals make chowing down on some local food doesn't have to cost the earth. Using the most basic of Spanish goes a long way! Dios mio! 

Bow down to Sitges, the Queen of the Seaside! This fabulous beach town is definitely somewhere over the rainbow for its Catalonia's premier Gay beach town. Take some time to rest and really get to know Sitges, its got everything you need to enjoy the days lazing on the beach amongst the 'Beautiful People!' Rainbows are the code in Sitges for all things fabulous, everyone is welcome in Sitges! During the day its a must to see 'St. Bartomeu Church' to catch the best vista of the beach. Enjoy one of the delicious restaurants through many kitsch side streets. Better still there's always time to be a 'Material Girl' in Sitges as their's a never ending collection of boutiques that sell the best of everything fashionable! Sitges doesn't do large hotels for its only a small beach town, I stayed in a modern hostel that wasn't too far away from the beach in a quiet residential street. This sexy Spanish town wants you! 

As the sun sets on Sitges the party truly starts! Hit 'Carrer Bonaire' for the best nightlife in town, where you shall find 'Queenz Bar' and 'Prestige Strip Club'. I endorse 'Queenz Bar' for the music is fabulous and the local drinks taste strong, its the place to be! Things don't liven up until later on so it gives you the chance to have some dinner at one of Sitges's top beachfront restaurants before dressing to impress so you can marry the night! I won't lie I had an amazing time in Sitges in July of this year, I wouldn't rule out a return visit in the future! Be happy, be proud and love Sitges for girl I just wanted to have fun! But how can you reach Sitges? Take the 'Rodalies de Catalunya' train from Barcelona Sants Station to Sitges, the journey only takes around thirty minutes and ticket prices are very reasonable too. Choose Sitges to conclude your alternative Spanish trip that doesn't have to cost you the earth. Have I tempted you to book your next holiday to Catalonia? 

Spain: I Love You ... And ... I Am With You! 

Joseph Harrison

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