CityLove: The Best of Gaudi in Barcelona

The best of Gaudi in Barcelona.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Lurdes L

Anton Gaudì is synonymous with Barcelona. Aside from the name, I never knew much about this famous architect. In fact, the first time I went to Barcelona, I grazed over his ties to the city and went straight for the beach … mostly because I was in Crappy Traveler mode. When visiting this gorgeous Mediterranean city, don’t make the same mistake I did.

Gaudì, a Spanish Catalan architect, is considered to be one of the best in the region’s Modernism movement. Influenced by nature, religion and, of course, architecture, his intricate creations can be found throughout the city.

His creations, first built as small-scale models, today are some of the world’s most renowned works. In fact, UNESCO has declared seven of his creations as World Heritage Sites.

Throughout Barcelona, visitors can find some of his most impressive — and famous works. Where to go to find the best of Gaudì in Barcelona?

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Escape of the Week: La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by travel blogger Nic Freeman.

Strolling through the bustling La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona is a bit like falling down a Spanish rabbit hole into a vibrant, food-filled wonderland: once there, your senses become saturated and you are led on a journey of delights, adventures, bizarre encounters and cultural quirks.

La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Also known as Mercat St Josep and The Boqueria Market, this produce-laden labyrinth is tucked just off Barcelona’s vibrant pedestrian vein, La Ramblas, offering an insight to the joys of Catalan food, language and culture. With roots dating back to the Middle Ages, La Boqueria has a long history of local trade and quality produce that has contributed to the dynamic, interactive and award-winning market that attracts local food experts, Barcelona residents and tourists today.

Meat for sale at  La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Meat for sale at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

As you weave along the tightly packed isles you’ll find bright, freshly-cut fruits buried in ice and legs of pork dangling overhead.

 Chocolate delights at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Chocolate delights at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

You’ll see wheels of cheese stacked tall, and piles of chocolates, sweets and nutty nougat concoctions that bring out the child in everyone.

Fish vendors at  La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Fish vendors at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

There are rows of fish vendors touting their sales with fluid Catalan tongues, and crooked little nannas pulling produce-stacked trolleys through the thick crowd.

Fresh produce at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

Fresh produce at La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona

I was so delighted with this market that I found myself drawn back three times over the three days I was in Barcelona, seeking out morning coffee, picnic supplies and a evening snack before the late 10pm Spanish dinner sitting.

Getting there:

La Boqueria is part way along La Ramblas in central Barcelona and an easy walking distance from the metro hub, Catalunya. Starting from Catalunya, just walk down La Ramblas, past the tourist stalls, florists and street performers, towards the Barceloneta seaside (by graeter). Mid way along La Ramblas, you will see the entrance arch to the undercover market on your right side.

The market is live and ready for you to visit between Monday and Saturday, from 8am to 8.30pm. It makes a great first stop along the Barcelona tourist trail, with espresso and vino for €1.10, picnic and sightseeing-appropriate snacks and plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish pleases and thank you.

Destinations Guest Posts

To be, or not to be … topless

The women surrounding us on the beach had one thing in common: they were missing their swimmer tops. And not the least bit shy about walking, running, jumping in the rolling waves of the Mediterranean without being covered.

Going topless on a European beach.

It’s on my bucket list. But, could I really take off my top on a beach loaded with gorgeous bodies? I wasn’t sure.

True, I had come a long way from locking myself in a bathroom in Budapest to change into my swimmers, but taking off my top in public? The thought alone made my heart race and my insecurities about my body swim to the top of my mind.

I knew on the train from Alicante to Barcelona to meet my friends that the moments were counting down until I would be on that beach with those half-naked people.

And, then suddenly, it was the next day and Tina, and her two girlfriends, (Gemma and Jen) and I were walking from the hostel to the beach in Barcelona, meandering through the colorful and tasty market on our way.

D, my mind toyed with me, are you sure you are ready for what you are about to do?? Do you really want to go half-naked in public?

We got to the beach. I dreaded sitting down.

Bucket list … bucket list … bucket list …

The four of us planted ourselves on towels, and to avoid taking my top off, I quickly went into the water to kill time.

Eventually, I had to get out of the water … had to face my fears.

“Let’s do it,” Tina had said, taking off her top.

One down.

Then, Gemma did the same.

They were still alive.

Suddenly, it was my turn. I untied the string around my neck and then …

I sat there.

Motionless.

Staring out at the vast sea of people. Most of them only wearing bottoms.

Boobs of all sizes. Bodies of all types.

I remained frozen, hands gripping the bottom of my top in a permanent state of almost-removal.

Inside, I had a fight raging … brain against insecurities.

D, who cares? Look around … no one is judging. No one is even looking. Well, that guy is, but who cares?

I tightened my hold on the bottom of my top.

It’s now or never. Damn, I could sure use a drink. Any other excuses to not take off my top? Nope.

I closed my eyes and pulled  my black tankini over my head.

Then, it was off.

The earth didn’t stop moving. A crowd of people didn’t gather around me to point and look at my naked upper-half. Life kept on going and no one even noticed.

I looked down. Yup, there were my boobs … in full view of, oh, everyone. And, it didn’t matter. Instinctively, I went to cover the girls with my arms, but then decided not to.

If I was going to do this, I was going to do this. No cheating.

I lathered some sunscreen on me because the last thing I wanted was sun-burnt bits and laid down.

I closed my eyes.

And relaxed.

You know what? It felt absolutely great. Freeing. Liberating. In America, breasts are meant to be covered. Americans by nature are so much more conservative than our European counterparts … but I wasn’t in America. I was in Spain … my favorite place … the place I wanted to make my home … so topless is a part of the culture. And, in order to live somewhere, you have to embrace the culture.

That day, on the beach, I embraced it.

I even got bold and marched myself into the sea to feel the water wash over me in a completely different way.

I emerged a different person, more in touch with myself, more secure of my body, more empowered. It felt great.

I had that smile on my face that I love to have on my face.

I could do this again.

Next time, there will be no hesitation.

In fact, maybe next time will be a nude beach.

Right.

In fact, I have every intention of doing it again. And, the next time, I won’t hesitate.

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