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Qué hacer en Barcelona?
If you are based in London — as we are — you are a 2-hour flight away of Barcelona. Here are my top tips to explore the city while brushing up on your language skills.
1. Las Ramblas: this is probably the most famous street in Barcelona. It is approximately 1.2 kilometres long with Port Vell (near the cruise port terminal) at the Southern most end and Plaça de Catalunya at the northern most end. The Ramblas are also very animated and you’ll be able to see live performances and human statue art. If you want to take a break from walking around and grab a snack, make a stop at the Mercado de la Boquería. The modernist building is home to several stalls that offer fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood and spices. If you are in the mood for a treat, head to one of Barcelona’s churrerías such as La Pallaresa and order some churros con cholocate. The chocolate has nothing to do with the Cadbury drink that you would find in London, but is a thick and creamy dessert, often topped with whipped cream — muy delicioso!
2. Sagrada Familia: this is the highlight in Barcelona’s skyline. The Sagrada Família is a basílica whose construction started in 1882. It is the fruit of the architect Antoni Gaudí, a ubiquitous Catalan architect. It was never completed at the time and today, more than 135 years later, construction continues on the Basilica and it is expected to be completed in 2026. Even though it is unfinished, it is open to the public and you can walk up the towers to get a memorable view of the city.
3. Park Güell: This is probably my personal favourite! It is a park situated on a hill North of the Gràcia neighborood. It was commissioned by Eusebi Güell who wanted to create a stylish park for Barcelona aristocracy, and features amazing stone structures, colourful tiling and buildings, mostly created by Antonio Gaudí (see below for a picture of the Gaudi dragon). I remember enjoying walking in the nooks and crannies of the park and exploring the mixture of sculptures and green spaces!
Before you set off, one word of warning about the language: you are probably studying Castillan Spanish at school, or Spanish as it is spoken in South America. In Barcelona, you will definitely get to hear Castillan Spanish, but you will also see and hear Catalan, which is a language spoken in three regions of Spain: Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands (Outside Spain, it is the official language of Andorra, and it is also spoken in some parts of France and Italy).
In Barcelona,“because the region of Catalonia has two official languages, you will see Catalan alongside Spanish on road signs, in shop advertisements and in the media. Historically, Catalan language has had a tough time; it was completely banned for political reasons on two occasions, but today Catalonia’s regional government recognises its cultural and literary value. Through education and active promotion Catalan people are encouraged to speak the language in order to keep it alive. Having said all that, Spanish is also an official language in Catalonia, because, of course, the region is part of Spain. Therefore you’ll find road signs and other important public information always provided in two languages and most people in Catalonia speak Castilian Spanish anyway. In Barcelona, Spanish and Catalan newspapers, books, television channels, art and culture also exist side by side, so that people can choose the language they prefer” (source).
I have found that being exposed to both languages is a great way to test your knowledge, work on your deduction skills and prove you are a great linguist!
Have I convinced you to plan a trip to Barcelona? Or to visit Spain more generally?
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