Tuesday, March 05, 2013

10 things to do in Barcelona on a shoestring budget!

Gaudi's sculptures at the rooftop of Casa Mila or La Pedrera. Barcelona, Spain.
I’ve decided to go to Spain because I thought this is the nearest gateway to Morocco. I’ve jokingly told my friends that when I get to Spain, I’m going to lash insults on our colonizers! But when I landed at Girona airport after an hour’s plane ride from Rome, I deplaned with nary a foul word from my mouth, but only with the song “A Whole New World” playing in my head!

But really, Barcelona is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city that has changed from being a Roman territory hundreds of years ago to a modern city that it is now, post-1992 Olympics. It is not exactly my favorite European city as I’ve discovered that I’m not a fan of big cities. But for its artsy and lively vibe, it’s a place worth coming back to, given the funds.

My friend Michelle went there recently and I’ve just heard myself giving her tons of tips and telling her to see this and that place.
So for travelers pressed for time and budget, here are the places that you can visit and the things that you can do in this capital city of the Catalunya region of Spain:
1.       Check out the La Rambla!
La Rambla, a mile-long street filled with street performers, arts, flowers, pets, food and what have you, is the center of the universe of Barcelona. If you only have a day in Barcelona, you shouldn’t miss La Rambla. La Rambla is a very good starting point when exploring Barcelona as it connects Placa Catalunya on the one end and the monument of Christopher Colombus to the other. Close by are districts such as Barri Gotic, El Raval, Barceloneta, and other attractions. There’s just so many places to see from here! Be wary of pickpockets, though.
A human statue at La Rambla. Photo ops cost about 2 euros.

La Rambla on a cold winter day. Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
2.       Eat at La Boqueria!
While at the La Rambla, head on to La Boqueria. It’s practically a small market where you can buy sausages and longanisa (my bet is jamon Serrano and jamon Iberico), fruits and fruit shakes and juices, veggies, filling sandwiches as cheap as 4 euros, among many others. It’s food trip galore!
La Boqueria. Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
3.       Visit the Sagrada Familia!
If you only have a day in Barcelona, spend just enough time at La Rambla and afterwards, make it a point to head to Sagrada Familia. Barcelona’s most famous edifice, also known as Basilica i Temple Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, will remain under construction until 2020 – making it much more charming. Gaudi never saw the completion of his masterpiece since it commenced construction in 1882 due to lack of funds and the Spanish Civil War. Entrance is 10 euros. But if you don’t want to shell out cash, the Biblical scenes etched on the church’s façade, the typical Gaudi Art Nouveau and curvilinear forms, and the human bone-like pillars inside the free portions of the church should suffice.
Facade of Sagrada Familia. Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
Inside Sagrada Familia. Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
4.       Check out La Pedrera – a must-see!
La Pedrera, also known as Casa Mila, is considered as Gaudi’s most famous non-religious work. It was called “pedrera” (quarry) as it looked like one during its construction.  This houses a museum on Gaudi as well as a modern apartment. Photoholics, please take note of the main staircase and the chimneys at the rooftop! Entrance costs 8 euros (and free for international journalists, hehe).
Casa Mila or La Pedrera. So can you imagine why it looked like a quarry during construction?
5.       Hangout a bit at Placa Real!
Just off La Rambla is Placa Real, a square lined with bars and restaurants. Notice the lamp posts, which are among the first works of Gaudi. Are you Filipino or Asian, or you just craved for Asian food? There’s a newly put up Club Philippines adjoining the Philippine consulate, which sports posh interiors and serves classy Filipino-Spanish food.
Lamp posts at Placa Reial -- prototype Gaudi.
Inside the Club Philippines. Posh, isn't it? Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
6.       Stroll at Parc Guell!
Parc Guell, located at the Gracia district of Barcelona, is kinda far from the center but it’s worth the bus and train rides and the uphill climb. Made up of several houses and other structures, I’ve read that Parc Guell was intended as a housing project, only that it was too ahead of its time and was not patronized by the people. Lucky for us visitors, Gaudi just decided to donate the place to the Spanish government. Entrance is free! Photoholics, take note of the mosaic salamander, the patterns at the ceilings, and the houses that look like the one in Hansel and Gretel! Looking for souvenirs? Aside from the ones being sold inside one of those candy-looking houses, the stores on the way to Parc Guell itself sell very nice ceramics and other souvenir items. While most of these items aren't available around La Rambla, one can tell that these are a bit pricey compared to other souvenirs stores within the city.
One of the houses at Parc Guell.
7.       Walk around Barri Gotic!
Bask at Gothic architecture around this quarter, the highlight of which is the Gothic cathedral! Placa del Rei, a wide open space, is also nice for photo ops. Tired from walking? It would be nice if you can sit around the cathedral and listen to musicians around. There’s also a flea market close by selling vintage items.
Right at the Barri Gotic.
8.       Go bar hopping at El Raval!
Barcelona is the party people’s Mecca and El Raval could be a nice place to select bars and nice restaurants. I had fund people-watching and hanging out while sipping beer in this district, which used to be a seedy place transformed into one of the funkiest places in Barcelona!
9.       Must-see: Picasso Museum!
Museu Picasso, which according to Lonely Planet used to be a series of palaces of wealthy merchants, is now home to some 3,000 works of Pablo Picasso! Picasso is known for his bold colors and geometrical patterns, but I’ve learned from my trip inside the museum that he started out with the “conventional” style (Renaissance or something close to that) of painting. He even underwent the phase of having one dominant color in his works -- blue, pink... ah! So beautiful! Entrance costs about 10 euros. After your visit, stroll around the La Ribera district where the museum is, and bask at the beautiful architecture around.
At the shop of Picasso Museum. Photo by Michelle Orosa-Ople.
10.   Go have a swim or be sun-kissed!
If you are in Barcelona in late Spring or early summer, it would be nice to take a swim or just go sunbathing. The public beach is just about a 5- to 10-minute walk from the end of La Rambla. Shower facilities are available but be sure to keep an eye on your belongings. When I went there, I only brought a small knapsack with my low-end phone, a few euros (‘cause I wanted to eat afterwards), a small towel, and a blanket where I can lay down.
At the Barceloneta beach.


Barcelona Budget said...
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Barcelona Budget said...
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Gurmit Singh said...

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