I have been away for a bit of a holiday with my two  sons (19 and 21).  We have  spent five days in Barcelona although when you take out travel time it was about four days. Having left a wet, soggy, grey Britain behind it was quite wonderful to arrive in a sunny and hot city – although the novelty of this started to wear by the end of the trip.  As you  can see the view from my bedroom window  above was very  different to the view of the green and lush Malvern countryside I normally have.  (You can see the Sagrada Familia still being built in the distance but I will post about that another day)

Our hotel (H10 Montcada) was in the Gothic Quarter of the city  and turned out to be wonderfully situated for exploring the ancient heart of the city.  In this area there  are buildings dating right back to the Roman times.  We were all awed by the medieval sights we say such as the bridge above. Despite other tourists there was still a certain atmospheric quiet down many of the small roads we explored.  We visited the famous La Rambla briefly but the vast crowd of people mainly tourists and people selling stuff to tourists made us retreat quite quickly  back to the side streets.

A short walk from our hotel was La Catedral (not to be confused with Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia) and this area became a real focus  for our evening excursions.  In front of La Catedral is Placa de la Seu which seems to be a focus for various gatherings of local people.  One evening we stumbled upon a mass of people performing the Sardana which is the local Catalyan dance.  It is a slow dance which allowed participation by the very young to the quite elderly.  Apparently due to its slowness other regions mock the dance saying it is like dancing with zimmer frames. Another evening we saw another tradition which seemed to involve villages/towns competing in seeing how many people they could stand on each others shoulders.  A sight to behold.

I have to say my semi-rural life meant that I found the hustle and bustle of the city a bit much at times so it was nice to retreat to the  hotel sun terrace from where we could listen to the noise of the city but put our  sore feet up as well.

I was very pleased that my twitter chums had recommended the tourist  bus and I had booked us two days  worth of rides on it and this proved to be a wonderful way of seeing the city.  We all agreed that not only did we cover more ground than we would have on foot but also because we were on  the top of a double decker we really noticed the architecture  which is especially peculiar along the rooftops.  On our trip around the city on the way to Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and the Jardin Botanic (all of which will be posted about another day) we saw many other amazing sights such as Gaudi’s Casa Batilo above.

and the Olympic Stadium.  I had assumed that the stadium was built for the Olympics  in 1992 but actually it was built  in 1929 and then not used due to the Spanish Civil War.  As we are going to the Paralympics later this year it will be interesting to see how the stadium compares with a 21st century one.

In Barcelona on Sunday afternoons many of the museums are free so we took advantage of this and visited the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona which turned out to be the best museum of roman artifacts that I have every visited – and I have visited quite a few due to school history curriculums.  You go  below ground and walk around the excavated roman remains of the original city, often walking on glass floors above the 2000 year old walls, water courses, wine vats etc.  We also visited the Picasso Museum but concluded that we really didn’t understand his art but we felt more culture for the visit!

Of course  the food was great – we tried Tapas, Paella, Sangria and ended each day watching the sun set across a vibrant city from the roof top terrace.