The Best of Barcelona

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"there is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." -Nelson Mandela

Vietin viime viikon Barcelonassa. Siellä ollessa kuulin uutisen Nelson Mandelan kuolemasta ja törmäsin yllä olevaan lauseeseen joka kolahti jonnekin syvälle sisimpään. Opiskelin Barcelonassa kymmenisen vuotta sitten, enkä ollut vieraillut siellä vuoden 2005 jälkeen. Odotukseni oli, että moni asia olisi muuttunut. Mutta päin vastoin. Kaupunki oli täysin ennallaan, täynnä elämää, värejä ja muistoja. Kahden päivän jälkeen tuntui siltä, etten olisi koskaan lähtenytkään. Rakastin tätä kaupunkia palavasti, ja tavallaan rakastan sitä vieläkin. Se oli ensimmäinen "suuri" kaupunki, johon parikymppisenä rakastuin, ja siksi se tulee myös jäämään. Vierailu palautti mieleeni niin paljon muistoja, ja asioita itsestäni jotka luulin jo unohtaneeni. Oli silti kiva vaellella kaupungilla ja katsella nähtävyyksiä. Tässä siis pilkahdus kaupungin parhaisiin paloihin.
I spent last week in Barcelona. While I was there I heard the news about Nelson Mandela's passing and read the above phrase, which really touched me deep inside. I went to school in Barcelona about ten years ago and I hadn't been back for a visit since 2005. I was expecting to find that many things had changed, but quite on the contrary. I found the city just as I had left it, still so full of life, colors and memories. After two days it felt like I had never actually left. I used to love this city, and I guess in a way I still do. It was the first "big" city I fell madly in love with in my early 20's and so it shall remain. This visit brought back so many memories, things about myself I thought I'd already forgotten. It was still nice to just wander around the city and look at the sights. Here is the first peek into some of the city's biggest must sees.
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This is where it all comes together. Right in the center of things. The tourists gather, people meet each other at Café Zurich, you stop by Fnac, Corte Inglés or Sephora. Plaça Catalunya and the Rambla.

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Up the street from Plaça Catalunya lies the street Passeig de Gracia, which is host to the fanciest luxury stores and some of the most coveted architectural sights of the city. Even the tiling on the sidewalk was designed by the city's own golden boy, Antoni Gaudí.

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The first of the famous Gaudí buildings you will probably stumble upon is Casa Batlló, which kinda looks like a dragon and his bones. It is probably one of the most spectacular and original buildings you will ever see. Actually the whole block is famous, known as Illa de la Discòrdia, as well as the building next door - Casa Amatller, designed by another famous local architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Further up the street lies the other Gaudí masterpiece, known as Casa Milà or La Pedrera, seen below at night.

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But of course, the most famous Gaudí of them all must be the Sagrada Família, which is still in the works to become one of the most extraodinary churches in the world. The last word on the progress of  the seemingly endless building efforts is, that it will be ready for the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death, in 2026. Quite the task, since construction began already in 1882 and they haven't even started on the tallest tower yet. Here you can watch a video of what it will hopefully look like in the future.

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Walking down the Rambla you will most likely see this indoor market. La Boqueria is full of tourists, locals and eager vendors. Unfortunately this place and its smells reminded me of why I was a vegetarian when I lived in Spain.

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El Barri Gòtic is a must see in Barcelona. Get lost in the little alleyways and explore all the hidden nooks of the old town.

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Santa Maria del Pi is one of the churches found in the Barri Gòtic. It hosts many concerts and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

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Quite different from the other churches in the vicinity, the Cathedral, or Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia is a beautiful Gothic building. The square in front the cathedral was now in December filled to the brim with Christmas vendors.

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If you only eat one thing of local goodness in Barcelona, let it be Crema Catalana. My favorite at least! I must've had nearly half a dozen of them this time around.

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As you wander through the old parts of town towards the sea, you'll at some point end up at Barceloneta and the beautiful sandy beaches. One of the absolute go-to locations on a warm summer's day. Next time I'll be sure to bring my skateboard and cruise around a bit.

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Beautiful Barcelona at dusk, as seen from our hotel's rooftop bar. Can't wait to show you guys more of this wondrous old home town of mine. Until next week and another round of images captured on my iPhone! And thanks to Annika, who met up with me for lunch and a walk around town. It's so nice to meet other bloggers, even when you've never met them before.

Tämä postaus on osa Instagram Travel Thursdayta. Lue ohjeet täältä ja kurkkaa myös järjestäjien blogit: Destination Unknown, Kaukokaipuu tai Running with Wild Horses.
This post is part of Instagram Travel Thursday. More info here. Also check out some of the organizers: Destination Unknown, Skimbaco Lifestyle and House of Anaïs.