Barcelona is full of charm and style, and it is clear to see that Barcelonians want to distinguish themselves from the rest of spain by adopting a unique dialect called Catalan which is one of the strangest languages I have had the experience of learning. Much of the richness of the city comes from one of its most influential residents, Antoni Gaudi, who has left his legacy on the beach metropolis.
Born in 1852, Gaudi, an architect had a hand in creating many of the most visited attractions at Barcelona like Guell park, Casa Mila, and the most visited monument in Spain, Sagrada Familia, a masterpiece that still being worked on to this day. Barcelona is one of the only places in the world where you can discover this unique art style of modernism at this frequency. I was left in awe by the buildings, and especially Guell park, one of the most impressive parks I have been too.
There is a level of detail to everything, the buildings, the columns, and the benches. The variety of colors used is impressive, and the fact that nothing is ever straight instead opting for curvy designs is something that defines the Gaudi way. The location of the park is phenomenal as well as it is elevated on the outskirts of the downtown, offering an amazing view of the city below and the surrounding mountains. Gaudi was a true Catalan and many of his designs incorporated Catalan nationalism. He was also a very religious man and his greatest work, Sagrada Familia was his way of showcasing his intense devotion to god. Gaudi was inspired by the nearby mountain range of Montserrat which looks just like Gaudi’s works strangely out of place.
A whole day can very well be spent at Montserrat, a town on top of the mountains with its own monastery. To reach the town visitors only take a short trip outside of Barcelona on the A-2. To reach the town you can either take the Aeri cable car, a 5-minute ride or the Cremallera, a 15-minute ride. During my trip I took the cable car, and it was a great cheap alternative. Once you reach the monastery it possible to go even higher. You can either take a Funicular to reach the mountains above the monastery or you can hike up. Whichever you decide to do be prepared to do a lot of walking so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks! The vistas here are incredible and the structure of the mountains are so unique, they make me think of inverted water droplets.
The capital of Spain, Madrid is big but it lacks the style and charm of Barcelona. I would not recommend spending too much time here during your visit, instead it is worth taking a day trip to Toledo and Segovia to experience architecture that is richer in detail and will let you immerse yourself in medieval history. Toledo and Segovia are about a hour away by car. I was taken aback by the atmosphere when you get deep into Toledo, you forget for just a second about where you are. The streets are very narrow and you see how religion has touched this city with nuns walking back and forth wearing black and white, and the eerie silence in empty alleys.