Barcelona Rocks!

It’s true that experienced travel photojournalists are meant to show a certain jaded nature; to be objective observers of the places they visit; to highlight the good and bad without getting involved…but Barcelona Rocks!

Having recently reviewed Madrid and found the decaying ambience of a once fashionable city quite dismaying, the thought of revisiting Barcelona after 20 years left me more than a bit weary. Too much has been said of this remarkable city for it to have been anything but a disappointment…or so it would have seemed.

With no plans for the Christmas holidays and last minute trips to the sun yet to see economic crisis discounting, I opted for a short three day trip with my two daughters. As they are now used to, no trip is purely entertainment and I expected begrudgingly to work on my portfolio of Spanish destinations with a pinch of holiday cheer thrown in.

24 hours after arrival, I can only say that this city deserves its top position in Europe’s best destinations. Unlike the bulk of venues around the region that poorly blend modern architecture with history and personality, this Catalan capital has and does it all with pinnache. Arts, style, delicacies, music and architecture surround you at every turn. It’s as if the local people chose to demonstrate to the world that quality of life does not have to be boring, arrogant or limiting…all is allowed but nothing is abbrasive.

Whereas in Madrid one gets a feeling that the extreme has been given the highest and only value, Barcleona has room for all without being vulgar. Children and adults, alike, will find days and days of activities to share. Here are a few examples of what I found in the first 24 hours:

– the best street dancers and musicians I have found anywhere in the world (including New York, London & Paris);

– high street and fifth avenue shops mixed between local artisans guaranteeing that even a shopping curmudgeon like myself comwes away with several bags;

– delicious paella and tapas set in stunning locales, manned by pleasant and helpful staff;

– a modern boutique hotel with hardwood floors and teak beds for under Euro100;

– two castles, three cathedrals and an acquarium complete with underwater glass tunnel;

– boulevards lined with flowers, nativities and mimes;

– and so much more.

Tonight, another great meal will be sampled inside the food market and later some clubbing ala Catalan. Already the energy of Barcelona has inspired me to do things I haven’t considered in years…clubbing being one of them. Photos to come.