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Barcelona Cruise Passengers - Planning a Gaudi Day
Cruising into Barcelona is an exciting prospect for every passenger, with a wealth of culture, art, gastronomy and history awaiting. However, due to time constraints, many passengers are restricted to just a few hours in the Catalan Capital, and need to plan their day well, in order to squeeze all the juice out of their one-day visit. One of the most popular choices when visiting the city is to squeeze in as much of Antonin Gaudi’s fantastic architecture in as possible, but without the know-how, this can be a logistical nightmare. However, with the ease of public transport and the tips to follow, anyone can get their fill.

Given the great location of the cruise terminals, at the bottom of the Old Port – Port Vell – in Barcelona, it’s easy to cram in plenty of Gaudi on your day trip and see some other sights along the way as well. The first thing any cruise traveller needs to do is head straight to the city’s most famous street, Las Ramblas. At the bottom of Las Ramblas is the metro station, Drassaness, which is the first port of call. If there is a group of travellers, purchasing a T-10 metro card is the best option, which is a ticket with ten journeys on it, and is transferable between passengers and by far the most economical way of getting around. Take the green line up to Vallcarca metro station for your first dose of Gaudi – Park Güell.

Directions from the exit of Vallcarca are well signposted, and mechanical escalators will take you to the summit of the park at the back, meaning you will enjoy the best views of Barcelona as a start, and then be able to take the rest of the journey downhill towards the ornate entrance, saving the best for last. Park Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of seven in the city that Gaudi is responsible for), and Barcelona Council has plans to charge an entrance fee sometime in 2010, so if you’re lucky enough to visit while the park is still free, you will all agree that the day couldn’t have started better. Stop for a coffee in the entrance to the park, and charge those camera batteries, too.

A quick skip downhill towards your right and you’ll quickly find Lesseps metro station – again on the green line. Hop back on the metro (don’t worry, this will be the last for today, and saves valuable time) a couple of stops down to Diagonal. As you emerge from Diagonal metro station, you will be greeted by Barcelona’s own Champs de Elysee, Passeig de Gracia. This is one of the main shopping streets in the city, with many boutique and high brand stores lining the wide avenue, and is also home to another two of Gaudis’s Masterpieces – Casa Mila and Casa Battló.

Casa Mila is also known as La Pedrera, which refers to the nickname given by residents at the time of construction and means the stone quarry, due to the massive amounts of sandstone Gaudi employed. It was Gaudi who had the last laugh, though, and this magnificent edifice is a building bereft of straight lines or right angles, and mirrors natures forms. Gaudi’s father – an ironmonger – shows his influence here, with the wrought iron balconies resembling seaweed washed up on a sandy shore. If time permits, and queues aren’t too long, ensure you make a visit inside with the fantastic period apartment, amazing attic exhibition and stunning rooftop with its unforgettable chimneys.

Casa Battló is just a few doors down on the opposite side of the street, and is different to Casa Mila, but unmistakeably Gaudi nevertheless. Don’t bother paying the steep entrance fee here; rather marvel at the yawning façade and Gaudi’s homage to Catalonia’s patron Saint, George, with his dragon’s rooftop tiles and George’s cross chimney. It’ll likely be time for a spot of lunch and there are some great Tapas bars in the adjoining streets.

After a light lunch, head on down to Plaça Catalunya, the city’s main square and over towards Las Ramblas – your point of origin this morning. As you walk down Passeig de Gracia, you’ll already be able to spot the ornate lamp-posts and benches also designed by Gaudi with the all-too familiar broken tiled effect. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, the city’s most vibrant street full of colours, people, artists and street performers. If you fancy something fresh, pop into the Boqueria market on the right hand side, around a third of the way down, for some fresh fruit juice.

As you continue down towards the Port terminal, you’ll reach Nou de la Rambla street, tucked away on your right. This will be your last chance to visit another Gaudi masterpiece – the only work he finished in his lifetime – Palau Güell. A partial visit of the building is currently only available, and this generally fills early in the morning (so if this is high on your wanted list, you could combine this visit in the morning, and then head up to Park Güell) but sadly, only the basement is shown, which although is highly impressive, does nothing to overshadow the previous attractions you will have seen during your Gaudi day, and reflecting on the façade is just reward for a long day’s walking. Again, Gaudi uses iron to great extent, and the most expensive materials available at the time were employed for Count Güell’s downtown residence.

After you’ve filled your camera’s memory card with the last photos of Palau Güell, you can rest happy in the knowledge you’ve experienced the highlights of the Catalan Artist, crammed four UNESCO World Heritage sites into one day as well as some of Barcelona’s other most famous attractions, and will surely have a great appetite for a dinner somewhere special in the evening, too!

About the Author
David Brydon has been living in Barcelona for 10 years and writes about Apartments for rent in Barcelona and Barcelona apartments for groups.
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