Barcelona, Spain

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Even the buildings are partying

Barcelona has more energy than anyplace we've seen, period. Day and night, the streets are crowded. There's a spirit in every tapa, in the modernist buildings, and of course in the spirits. We stayed in the marina in Barceloneta for a month, and never ran through the list of fun things to do or see.

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Sagrada Familia Temple
The Sagrada Familia Temple is Antoni Gaudi's final, unfinished spectacle. It was only one-quarter finished at the time of his death, and still has only achieved the halfway mark. A mix of textures, materials, and styles, it's been controversial and revered for a century.
Festival in Gracia
During the summer season, there are festivals all over town. One of these that took place during our visit was in the neighborhood of Gracia. The local residents decorate the streets in more elaborate scenes every year, all created from recycled materials. In this street, you walk as though you're under the sea. Above you are fish and mermaids of garbage bags and bubble wrap, discarded compact disks and wire hangers.
Palau Guell
Barcelona is a Gaudi town, and this mansion just off of the famous boulevard Las Ramblas was a very early achievement. Eusebi Guell was Gaudi's patron through a lifetime, and every inch of this house is decorated with the eccentric perspective of Gaudi. Here, on the roof, are some of the cartoon-like chimneys from the Gaudi-designed fireplaces.
Palau de la Musica Catalana
With all respect, many modernist architects made their mark in Barcelona, and the city's beauty is testament to how many there were. The Palau de la Musica Catalana is a glorious example, indoors and outside. We took the advice of a guidebook and saw some concerts there. The auditorium is filled with mosaics, leaded glass, sculpture, and images of well-dressed theatergoers in mosaic gowns with sculptured heads gazing back at the audience from behind the performers onstage. It's a feast for the senses.
Placa Espanya
The area surrounding the Plaça Espanya was developed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, and it's an example of the gorgeous architecture that never ends, no matter how far from the center of town you roam. Nobody had the heart to tear down the temporary exposition building, so now it's an art museum. The convention center is on the square, and the "magic" fountain nearby erupts in a water and light show several times a week. We got this shot from a building, once a bullring, that's been redeveloped into an ultra-modern, crystalline-interior, circular mall.
Sardana
The national dance of Catalonia is the sardana, and the locals know the places and times where the dance is likely to appear almost spontaneously. It's likely to be found at the Seu, the square outside the Cathedral, or on a downtown plaza on a busy shopping day. Everyone just tosses their packages into the center of the circle and joins right in.