Essentials of Barcelona

Story and photos by Meghan Augsburger
Ramstein High School intern

From tiny tapas restaurants to bust-ling shopping streets, Barcelona has a wide range of attractions and cultural experiences for the entire family.

Getting to the City

Driving is always an option for getting to Barcelona. However, for short trips, flying is recommended. If booked far enough in advance, cheap tickets can be found.


On arrival at Barcelona International Airport, it’s important to note that several safe modes of transportation exist.

One of the easiest ways to get to the city is with the Aerobus. It picks up and drops off passengers at terminals one and two. The ride takes about 30 minutes with a few stops at popular hotel areas. A single journey ticket costs €5.65. A full trip costs €9.75 and lasts for nine days.

Terminal two also has a train station with a connection to Barcelona. Tickets cost €3.60. Though it is convenient, it cannot take you all the way into the city. Transferring to the metro system is necessary.

Gastronomy

While visiting the capital of Catalunya, one cannot resist the culinary delights prepared in every tapas bar. Tapas are snacks or finger foods that vary depending on the region. These little canapes are served hot or cold throughout the entire day.

Typical tapas include:

• Patatas bravas — potatoes in a spicy sauce

• Patatas aioli — potatoes in garlic mayonnaise

• Calamares — fried squid

• Jamon serrano — dry-cured ham

• Croquetas — croquettes usually filled with chicken, ham, or cod

• Tortilla Espanola — potato and onion omelet

• Pa amb tomaquet — tomato and olive oil bread

Lunch is the largest meal of the day, consisting of up to three or four courses. It is usually eaten between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., followed by a short nap, called a siesta.

Traditionally, lunch starts with an appetizer, such as Jamon Serrano or other dried meats.

The first course often includes a vegetable dish or a rice, potato or pasta based soup. A fish or shellfish dish such as Paella, a rice dish cooked with vegetables and various types of seafood, make up the second course.

Roast lamb, pork and sausage dishes follow. Finally, the meal ends with a traditional dessert like Crema Catalana, a Catalan creme brulee.

Catalans, especially in Barcelona, created their own version of surf ‘n’ turf. “Mar i muntanya” dishes combine seafood from the Mediterranean and delicious meats, such as lamb, from the mountain region.

Locals eat tapas throughout the day because dinner is served as late as 9 p.m.  Churros and a thick, whole milk hot chocolate are popular midnight treats.

Sightseeing

Barcelona is filled with beautiful historical sights. One of the most famous landmarks is La Sagrada Familia, a unique basilica built by Gaudí. The overall design of the church is quite gaudy with its intricate biblical carvings and unusual towers.

On the inside, however, La Sagrada Familia remains surprisingly light and welcoming. Pillars line the center, carved to represent trees in a forest. The entire building was designed using principles of nature, such as the honeycomb structure of the windows and leaf-like curvature of the roofs.

Another well-known attraction is Las Ramblas, a long street filled with vendors, restaurants and human statues. At the end sits the Christopher Columbus monument, called Colom. Tourists can ride an elevator to the top of the column where they’ll find a great view of the city.

For those who enjoy seeing local activities, the market of La Boqueria is the perfect stop. One can see the hustle and bustle of shopkeepers while admiring all of the exotic foods showcased by each vendor.

La Cathedral de Barcelona is another interesting sight located at the heart of the city. Visitors have four options to explore:

• Exploring the inside of the cathedral

• Riding the elevator to the roof for a view of the city

• Walking through the small garden sanctuary

• Visiting the cathedral museum and gallery

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, a UNESCO world heritage site, is also highly recommended for its architecture and beautiful gardens. The entire complex is connected by a system of underground tunnels. Though it hasn’t been used as a hospital since June 2009, tours are given daily between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The 1992 Olympic park may appeal to sports fans touring Barcelona. The sports complexes and stadium are all located in Parc Montjuic, the site of the Magic Fountain show. The stadium itself was used for many different events, before it was renovated for the Olympics.

Activities for Kids

Families with small children have plenty of options.

The perfect attraction for an animal loving family is the Barcelona aquarium. The aquarium features a variety of tanks with tropical, Mediterranean and deep-sea species. Visiting the Barcelona zoo is also recommended.

Directly next to the aquarium is an IMAX theater, the first IMAX integral theater in the world. Customers have three viewing options: traditional IMAX, 3D and Omnimax.  Omnimax movies are projected in a semispherical theater.

At night, the Magic Fountain show takes place in Parc Montjuic. With its flashing, colorful lights and music, it is a perfect event to take children to.

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