Relocating to any major city can have its exciting attractions, especially if you're coming from a small town background, but with that too come the nerves of cramming yourself into the high rises and hustle of daily city life. The Mediterranean city of Barcelona is no different. With rich culture, art and architecture there is plenty of eye candy on offer as you wander the city streets of the Catalan Capital. However, if you're one who loves the outdoors, and being able to escape to green spaces and nature, the prospect of moving into such a city as Barcelona can be daunting. However, there are some ways around it!
As far as European cities go, Barcelona has sufficient open spaces, parks and gardens to satisfy the hunger of almost any new citizen. Not forgetting of course that the city itself lies on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, with miles of coastline and beaches just a short stroll or metro ride away. Compared to a city such as New York, for example, which only really has central park, and Barcelona is an oasis of escapades to maintain the balance in your life.
Take for example La Cuitadella Barcelona garden and a lung breathing lift into the old town, sitting just above the old fisherman's quarters of Barceloneta. This is a great place to escape the city, and especially on Sundays when the park fills with bohemian types playing bongos, the immigrant community gather for picnics and to sell their home made mpanadas and the like. There is a fantastic fountain, designed by Antonin Gaudi responsible for 7 of Barcelona's 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as the Geology museum (free entrance on the first Sunday of the month), a small lake with rowing boats and ducks, children's play areas and the city zoo to boot. It's a great place for joggers and rollerblading, or just kicking back and relaxing after a heavy Saturday night partying in Barcelona!
Across town and creating a border to the city is the vast expanse of Montjüic mountain, again, so easily accessible form the city centre through the funicular train at Parallel metro station. This is probably a two minute journey but transports to a completely different side of Barcelona. Although considered a mountain, Montjüic is probably best described as a hill, and has a castle on the top which was used as a prison during the civil war. The castle is a great place to go in summer evenings when cinema greats are broadcasted onto the side of the castle walls and guests are invited to bring their deckchairs and blankets for cinema under the stars. There is a great cable car ride from the castle over the beautiful botanical gardens and this is a great place for a weekend picnic, for example. Montjüic has many hidden corners and it's easily big enough to find some space and solitude to read a book, or have a private picnic with a loved one. There are some fantastic sculpture gardens, the ethnological museum (again, free on the first Sunday of the month) and many hidden routes to while away a lazy sunny afternoon in Barcelona.
At the back of Barcelona lies Tibidabo, another mountain which is surrounded by Conserolla Park, the largest metropolitan park in the world 22 times larger than New York's Central Park mentioned above. Although admittedly not as easily accessible as the previous parks mentioned, Conserolla is a huge, dense forest with many walkways and wildlife to explore. The park is popular with cyclists, walkers, birdwatchers and extends to the smaller towns and villages outside of Barcelona, too. For those thrill-seekers who wish to view the city from a different perspective, Tibadabo also houses a Theme Perk with a rollercoaster which twists and turns around the mountain through the Conserolla park, too!
Perhaps the most famous park within the city is one of Gaudi's creations, Park Güell. Commissioned by Count Güell after his love of English gardens (it retains the English spelling of Park, the original idea was to make an exclusive neighbourhood for Barcelona's wealthier residents a kind of old fashioned Beverly Hills if you like but the idea never took off, much to the delight of Barcelona residents and visitors of today. The Perk has UNESCO World Heritage status and is a pleasure to behold. Obviously, being such a tourist attractions, it's difficult to find a secluded spot, so to speak, but Barcelona council has put plans in place to being to charge an entrance fee to the park, and only those residents close to the park will be exempt from paying that fee something to consider if you like the idea of walking your dog in one of the best parks in Europe when moving here!