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Mediterranean Spotlight: Barcelona, Spain
by Roy Witman © 2008

An ever-popular tourist spot, Barcelona, Spain is a jewel in the crown of the Mediterranean. With remarkable architecture, you can experience delightful and intriguing sites as you tour the city, including Monsterrat, legendary home of the Knights of the Holy Grail. From art galleries and museums to elegant shops and restaurants, there is much to explore.

Positioned on the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the shores of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain. One of its first encounters with global fame was as the host of the 1888 World's Fair. However, this was not the only shining star in Barcelona's history. The world would focus on this city once again in 1992 as Barcelona hosted the Olympics. The Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) is the group of sports installations where the main events of the 1992 games were held and is still open today along with other attractions including Olympic Marina.

Very much a walking town, Barcelona's sidewalks are cleaned every morning. Should you decide to tour the city by foot (and you really should!) a must-see stop is Las Ramblas. Five separate streets strung end to end create a noisy, bustling marketplace where visitors can buy virtually anything. In addition to shopping, street performers also entertain young and old. Mimes, dancers, jugglers and more give a light feel to the bazaar. However, Las Ramblas is also a cultural haven, boasting an opera house and the Monument to Columbus.

A visit to Barcelona is not complete without a tour of the Picasso Museum. Housed in three stone mansions, this is, without question, the most popular museum in the city. Traveling from floor to floor, you'll visit many periods of the artist's work from 1890 through the 1950s, including his famous Blue and Pink Periods. In addition, architecture of magnificent proportions can be seen throughout the city, including many buildings designed by Barcelona's favorite son, Antoni Gaudi.

Looking to participate in a little local culture? Join the natives in front of the cathedral on Sundays to dance the Sardanas, a traditional Catalan dance. Sightseeing and dancing aren't the only things to do in Barcelona. This city also boasts world-renowned beaches.

After a massive cleanup effort, Barcelona now proudly offers exceptional beaches with water that is tested daily, disabled access, lifeguards (in season) and showers. Nova Icaria is closest to Olympic Marina and provides sunbathers with golden sand beaches, several bars and popular restaurants. Bogatell (with a beach that is twice as long as Nova Icaria) has a raised promenade that cuts noise considerably and also a stone walkway that attracts joggers, skaters and cyclists.

Probably the most popular local beach is Barceloneta. Both wide and long, this beach is adorned with an American-style wooden boardwalk as well as typical American-type cuisine, including pizza and Tex-Mex.

Whether it's sophistication or sun, food or fun, Barcelona is an upscale vacation that takes you far from overcrowded theme parks. Visiting Barcelona via cruise ship makes the experience even more satisfying. As Cunard cruise line says, “Explore places only the most sophisticated traveler knows about on a fascinating voyage across Homer's 'wine- dark sea.' ” Incorporating Barcelona into a grand Mediterranean voyage aboard Cunard or another cruise line will exceed the exceptional at every turn.

Read more about the Cunard Cruise Lines.
Read more about European Cruises.
Read more about Mediterranean Cruises.