on April 19, 2012
The Barri Gotic, or old town area of Barcelona was just steps from our hotel, so we spent a fair amount of time exploring around here. It is lovely and historically interesting, so even if you are not staying nearby, it is definitely worth visiting.It is the old Gothic area of Barcelona, and is made more fascinating by the fact that most of it has actually survived intact since the Middle Ages. You can even see parts of the old Roman city walls dotted here and there throughout the Barric Gotic. Apparently underneath the streets you walk on, are the actual remains of the first Roman settlement.We greatly enjoyed exploring this area. You don't need a map, the key to appreciating it fully, is just to stroll and go where the fancy takes you. You don't need to know where you are, or what you are looking at, just soak up the atmosphere.There are lots of little winding, narrow streets with the buildings close together, with a dark, atmospheric feeling. There are squares and little lanes and no traffic, which is heaven in Barcelona. The whole of the Barri Gotic fans out from the Cathedral de la Seu (the centrepiece), so you can't actually get lost anyway.It is a busy area at all times of the day - there are always plenty of people around. However, in the afternoons, we did find that quite a lot of the shops closed and then reopened again later in the evening (assume it was siesta time). It is the evening though, when the whole of the Barri Gotic really does come to life. After dark there are so many people strolling, looking in shop windows and relaxing. Tourists and locals alike throng the streets - but it is not uncomfortably crowded. There is a lovely atmosphere, and the street lighting enhances this. Check out the old city walls after dark too - the floodlighting makes them eerie and stunningly beautiful.There are many restaurants and bars in the Barri Gotic and it is a great place to eat out or have a drink. There are though, a lot of very touristy places where the food is ok, but not the best you will get, so choose wisely.We enjoyed listening to the many musicians on the street corners. We especially liked a classical guitarist we saw one evening. On Easter Monday afternoon, there was a little orchestra playing just outside the cathedral. The music was traditional and a little bit strange. In the square in front, were about 100 elderly people dancing slowly in a big circle to the music. It was fascinating to watch.Although it is best to just stroll, one place definitely worth seeing is the Placa Reial. We loved this wonderful square. There are palm trees, lovely buildings and a fountain in the centre. The lamp posts are beautiful and also important as they were the first design project Gaudi undertook in Barcelona. The Placa Reial is always busy and a great spot to do some people watching. The 2 slight negatives though, are that apparently it is a prime spot for pickpockets (we experienced no problems) and if you buy a drink in one of its bars, you will pay a premium. You do though, get to have a drink in a lovely place and have a lot to look at. The restaurants here looked lovely, we did not eat here though, as most of them seemed to have large queues.
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