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August 25, 2010

When in Barcelona…

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           When in Barcelona you have to try the paellas. If you are a picky eater or just not as courageous at trying new dishes you still have a world of different paellas to choose from. For example the vegetable paella; it is nothing too crazy and is definitely something familiar to the cautious traveller. If you are a seafood lover, and even if you are not (I wasn’t) after trying the seafood paella you will be lost in all the flavours that marine life can offer. If you are the kind of person that likes a little bit of everything, the mixed paella is what you should be getting; it is a wise blend of meat, and seafood that will leave you full but definitely wanting more.

            If you are a traveller with a bit of a wild streak, who is dying to find adventure and try something different, then your best choice and my challenge to you: arroz negro. Arroz Negro or otherwise known by us travellers as black rice is a dish that takes a gutsy tourist to try. Black rice, a type of grain that goes by the same name has nothing to do with this Spanish dish, so why is it called that? The answer is squid ink! Indeed, this dish (not unlike seafood paellas in looks and preparation) is made using squid ink which gives it its distinct blue-black colour. The ink enhances the flavours and in my opinion brings the entire dish together giving it an exotic appearance. My verdict is, Arroz Negro is definitely a must-try dish when visiting Barcelona.

            When in Barcelona travel for about two hours by train and visit the Dali Museum. Indeed the ride is long but worth it when at the end you get to experience the work by one of the greatest masterminds in art history. Even if Dali is not your favourite artist going to see his museum is a must. Once there (and I used the word experience earlier with a purpose) you don’t just wander from room to room sleepy because you have seen tons of art museums before this day, instead the art found in the Dali museum is experienced and not simply gawked at. Everywhere in the building you are surrounded by art, in fact the building itself is a work of art. Just like the courtyard, the hallways, the stairs and of course the paintings. Nothing in the building was left untouched, everything has a piece of the artist’s work either hanging on the wall so big that you can hardly see it, or suspended from the ceiling or is right beneath your feet.  Dali in his life has done much more than paint “the melting clocks” otherwise known as The Persistence of Memory and many forget the genius that he actually was. His work, constructions, and their placement make you feel like you are walking in a surrealistic dream where nothing is orderly but seems to make sense. The Dali Museum doesn’t inspire you to be educated about the artist and remember every detail of his life; instead it inspires other worldly sensations that make you feel like you have stepped into a different universe, a universe whose maker is Dali. So if you are an art junky and want your artistic vision tickled or simply craving the feeling of a wonderful dream visit the Dali museum. It will leave you dazed and satisfied and most importantly inspired.

            When in Barcelona pay homage to Gaudi and visit the famous Sagrada Familia. The church has been in construction since 1882 and is not yet finished. Its size is monumental and every inch of this structure is a work of art; everything from the interior with columns made to resemble trees which inspire peace and serenity to the facades that adorn the outside walls of the church. Everything about the Sagrada Familia states unnatural beauty, and despite how the architecture falls from one style to another all of them come together in perfect harmony. The Sagrada Familia is unique not only in its architectural design but also in the time it has taken the various visionaries including the father of it all Gaudi to complete it. The architecture is tied together by unique geometric designs which ground the artwork in a very distinct artistic style as well as sometimes remind us of more modern styles such as cubism. Deeply rooted within this structure are the different symbols which were scattered among the walls, ceiling, towers, and doors; to put it simply the entire church is bursting of symbolism. Gaudi’s masterpiece is hard to describe in words so the best advice I can give is if you can fly to Barcelona definitely do so.

            Barcelona reconstructs you, gives you a new way of looking at cities, streets and even doors (when in Barcelona try to pay attention to how many different door designs you can spot). This magical city shows you a different side of Europe a side that you (like I) might have not seen yet. So go ahead, put it on your to-do-list: Visit Barcelona!

by: Darya K

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