One reason we wanted to retire to Europe was to have a central place from which to “springboard” to explore many different cities in Europe. With Adam and Liz visiting we decided to do just that and spent a few days in Barcelona, Spain. We found that Adam and Liz share our interest the work of Antoni Gaudí so it was time to make some hotel and train reservations and head to Barcelona. It is only about a three-hour train ride to Barcelona from Carcassonne. The TER (Transport Express Régional) to Narbonne, the high-speed TVG (Train à Grande Vitesse) to the Figueres Vilafant train station (just inside the Spanish border) to switch into a RENFE (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles – Spanish National Railway Network) high-speed AVE (Alta Velocidad Española – Spanish High Speed) train. The RENFE train was beautiful and we enjoyed the use of the club car for ice-cold Spanish beer.
In very little time we were in Barcelona, sharing a pitcher (or two) of sangria. Sitting on the Mediterranean Sea with about five million residents, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, the sixth most populated urban area in the European Union.
We decided that while Paris is beautiful, Barcelona is gorgeous. Stunningly gorgeous.
Adam led us to Parc del Laberint d’Horta (Labyrinth Park of Horta) in the Horta-Guinardó district in Barcelona. The park is the oldest of its kind in the city. Located in the former estate of the Desvalls family, next to the Serra de Collserola ridge, the park combines an 18th century neoclassical garden and a 19th century romantic garden. In 1967 the Desvalls family donated the park to the city of Barcelona, who opened to the public in 1971. Liz had always wanted to explore a maze and was looking forward to exploring the labyrinth, so we lined up behind her and had her lead the way.
Returning to our hotel room and realizing that it wasn’t cooling off very quickly, we decided to take an evening walk through Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça de Catalunya, and La Rambla. Passeig de Gràcia is one of the major avenues in Barcelona, it is compared to the Champs-Élysées, Fifth Avenue, and Rodeo Drive and is one of the most important shopping and business areas of Barcelona containing many of the city’s most celebrated pieces of architecture. Passeig de Gràcia is regarded as the most expensive street in Barcelona and in Spain.
Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) is Barcelona’s large city square and is considered to be the city center and the place where the old city and the modern city meet.
La Rambla is located off Plaça de Catalunya. The tree-lined pedestrian mall stretches for 1.2 kilometers between Barri Gòtic and El Raval, connecting Plaça de Catalunya with the Monumento a Colón (Christopher Columbus Monument) at Port Vell (the Old Harbor.) Even in the middle of the week there is tremendous energy and activity in the “Heart of Barcelona.”
The following day was all about exploring Gaudi’s art and architecture and his contributions to Barcelona.