Barcelona without breaking the bank
Shida Laily Yusof
It may not be the biggest city in Spain but Barcelona is
uniquely exciting in many ways... and it doesn´t have to cost the earth either.
ASK me which is my No 1 favourite city on earth (after my hometown Ipoh, Perak, of course!) and my
answer will definitely be Barcelona, Spain.
In fact, all my friends who have been to this Spanish city agree that it
is one of the most gorgeous, captivating and
exciting places that they´ve ever been to.
Personally, I find Barcelona truly unique. It´s hip yet
laidback, urban yet warm, modern yet traditional.
Looking for great architecture? Check. Cool culture? Check. Fabulous
shopping? Check. Beautiful parks? Check. Friendly people? Check. Beach in a
Yes, Barcelona has them all, even though it
is only Spain´s second largest city, after
Madrid. And even more.
The fact that you can soak in the distinct architecture of the
world-famous Antoni Gaudi, shop-till-you drop at department stores near the Pla┴a de Catalunya, gawk at one of the world´s most beautiful market or simply chill out at
the beach at La Barceloneta in the very same city without
having to travel far, only heightens the appeal of
For budget travellers, the good news is that
many of Barcelona´s key tourist attractions
are located close to each other and are easily accessible on foot or by public
Barcelona is a pedestrian-friendly
city and it is also served by a comprehensive local public transport system
that includes a metro, a bus network, two modern tram networks, a separate
historic tram line and several funiculars and aerial cable cars.
If you are familiar with Rapid KL´s Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, you will find the Barcelona Metro quite
easy to master in a short period of time.
By taking public transport, you can save your euros and spend the money instead on those lovely Zara dresses on sale
at Plaça Catalunya or maybe get that FC Barcelona
jersey as a souvenir!
To top it all, dining and accommodation are relatively cheaper here in Barcelona than in other Western European
cities such as Paris or Frankfurt.
In fact, you can enjoy the city without spending too much and here´s how:
People watching at Plaça
Why do I love Barcelona? Because it´s a city with
soul. Its soul, of course, is reflected in its inhabitants. And the best place to have a show of Barcelona folks is at Plaça Catalunya.
Located in the heart of Barcelona, the
square is well-known for its fountains and monuments. Like Trafalgar
Square in London, Placa Catalunya also has
its own resident pigeons. And what better way to enjoy all these than to grab a
chair (al fresco, of course) at the
over-80-year-old Cafè Zurich. Order a cafè con leche (coffee with milk) and
simply soak in the view.
Strolling at the Las Ramblas:
A trip to Barcelona is not complete if Las Ramblas
is not included. Though some might argue that this is just an over-promoted
tourist venue, I beg to differ. For the
uninitiated, Las Ramblas is a 1.2km-long pedestrian mall that also happens to
be Barcelona´s most central boulevard. To
watch street artistes performing as tourists take their pictures, artists
painting portraits of clients on the spot and walk
through cafès and restaurants that line the street
are enough to make you giddy with excitement. Since Las Ramblas is located
within walking distance to several other key attractions in Barcelona, you simply can´t miss it (just
be careful of pick-pockets though.) To summarise, Las Ramblas is a clichè
because it´s good. As simple as that.
atmosphere of Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria:
How can a produce market be so
beautiful? For indeed, Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or in short La
Boqueria, is beautiful. Here, fresh fruit displays are turned into fine art by the stall operators and photo opportunities are aplenty
for trigger-happy shutterbugs. Besides fruit, there are vegetables, pastries,
candy, all types of fish and seafood, and of course, the
signature Spanish delicacy, jamon (cured ham) at this lovely market. A visit to
the colourful La Boqueria would definitely offer
great insight into the interesting culinary life
of the Spanish people.
Chilling out at the beach in La Barceloneta:
A beach in the city centre? Only if you´re
in Barcelona. The
best part is, you don´t have problems getting to Barceloneta beach as you can walk
straight to it from Las Ramblas or Plaça Catalunya, which are normally used as the reference point by most travellers.
It´s a 15-minute walk from the end of Las
Ramblas and less than 10 minutes from the
Barceloneta Metro station.
Truth be told, Barceloneta is not as pretty as the
beaches in Spain´s world-famous Costa del
Sol, yet it does have its own charm nonetheless. Enjoy the view of the Mediterranean, sun soaking locals and
people taking sailing lessons as you let all your worries be blown away by the sea breeze.
Bird´s eye-view of Barcelona:
Montjuic isn´t just another key tourist destination. Located in the southwest of Barcelona, its hilltop allows
a great view of the city and the Mediterranean. Much to any tourist´s
delight, there is a cable car service connecting the
Parc Montjuic to the Barceloneta beach. For less
than 10 euros one-way, you get a breathtaking aerial view of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea that will enchant
even the most jaded traveller. Warning: This ride
is not for the faint-hearted or those who fear
great heights. That said, this cable car ride is definitely worth the while.
Source : Travel Times, New Straits Times – 12 January 2010
written by Roslina Abdullah on 12 February 2010 07:29:59
Barcelona is certainly a great city to visit. If time is on your side and you have a pair of sensible shoes, walk through all the cobbled streets and you'd be certain to find some off the wall shops selling handmade chocolates and sweets and other untraditonal gifts. Off the Las Ramblas, make a point to visit 'Els Gats'..a rather quaint cafe where Pablo Picasso used to frequent.