When I was a child, I though that if I went to Spain, I would find some long-lost Basque relatives. Many years later, I did travel to Spain, and although I didn’t find any Basque relatives, I did find places that bestowed me with more than my fair share of happiness.
Everything started with me setting foot in Barcelona with my girlfriend on a hot summer day; next thing I knew – I had walked about 20 kilometers in one day. Walking around a foreign cities is always interesting, but when you’re in Barcelona – a living museum where you walk incessantly – “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
You know how the most remarkable cities tend to carry one person’s soul, style and influence? Cities where no matter where you go, you simply “sense” their being? – like how Mozart “comes to life” in Vienna in tourist shops, parks, and everything in between. Likewise, Barcelona is undoubtedly Antoni Gaudí’s city. This famous Catalonian architect’s meticulous and extraordinarily unique works are felt everywhere and in everything.
If you want to familiarize yourself with Gaudí, visit the Park Güell located on Carmel Hill. The park – along with its house-museum and spectacular view of the whole city – looks as if it came straight out of a fairy tale.
If on one side, you encounter Sagrada Família and so many tourists that you’re forced to wonder if there’s enough oxygen for everyone there, somewhere on the other side of the city there are less touristy but no less interesting hidden gems to discover as well. Therefore, if Gaudi and cathedrals don’t exactly strike your fancy, you might find your “Mecca” in the street-art-filled poorer neighborhoods of Barcelona.
Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in the narrow medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, where you’re susceptible to losing any and all sense of time. Everything is so historic and old that you literally forget you’re in the 21st century and begin to believe you’re in the middle ages.
If you’re fond of culinary arts, cultural medley and diversity, “El Bazaar de Barcelona” is a must-see. The acute smells and tastes of seafood from this place might follow you all the way back to Georgia.
However, Barcelona is not all there is to Catalonia. For those who like small cities where you feel at home within minutes of arrival and whose people are simply “different”, the next fairy-tale journey starts in Sitges – a small coastal town 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona.
Sitges is so tiny and self-sufficient, that we were able to walk around the whole city (and see it’s only church) in one day.
And as it tends to be the case with cities like this, that single day was plenty enough to fall in love with it.
Catalonia’s rocky coastline is a whole separate story. There are people for whom the sea holds the whole world. This coastline is for exactly those people – those that seek adventure and fatigue, happy memories and new emotions.
If the coastline, cliffs and sea are not your cup of tea, north of Barcelona you might find your calling in Girona – a sublime medieval city.
This city – the biggest in the north of Catalonia – is full of Gothic churches, medieval castles and fortresses, scenic canals, and colorful gates and houses. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you will have seen Girona’s dignified grey stone streets in season six when it appears as Braavos.
Walking around Girona feels like a journey into history – one where you’re certain you’ll find some buried treasure that you’ll take him with you.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any treasure, but frankly, even if I had lost everything that I did have with me, I feel like I still wouldn’t have came back “empty-handed” considering the amount of emotions and impressions I did bring back with me.
Author: Marita Mazanishvili