I started my stay in Barcelona with a walk down La Rambla which is an explosion of people. cultures, food, nightlife and tree cover (there is a road with the same kind of tree cover in South Bangalore - sadly they share no other similarities). If you love people watching or want to taste a large variety of freshly cooked food (or eat fresh fruit), I would highly recommend spending time on this road.
Close to La Rambla you will find a lot of tourist attractions ranging from museums and churches to monuments and palaces. One of the more interesting ones (to see from the outside) is Palau Güell, its "interesting-ness" for me atleast was due to its location because I never expected a "Palace" to exist where it does, not to mention its almost "secure facility" like exterior.
A 20 min walk away from La Rambla you are at the foot of Montjuïc. A variety of buildings and activities dot this hill, but the best part for me was the view of the city from the top.
After spending some peaceful time on the hilltop, we headed to the opposite side of town to Park Güell. The walk up to the top reminds me of walking up the Central-Mid Levels in Hong Kong. Both are quite a walk/escalator ride but the view from the top in this case is well worth the effort. The view from the top is absolutely sensational.
The whole city takes on a different feel as the day wears on. La Rambla is the area to be in with the large number of restaurants and pubs to suit anyone's budget and mood. We went out with a bunch of people from our hostel for a super fun night, and along the way got a guide for an architectural tour.
The next day I found out about one of Barcelona's quirkiest architect. Antoni Gaudí has left an indelible mark on the city and when I see his creations, my first reaction was "What was this guy smoking?!!" He has a fascination with ceramics with curved exteriors on buildings that is definitely unique. Most of the buildings we saw seemed to have been molded out of clay and had broken ceramic pieces stuck on them. At the other extreme of planned buildings, by the same architect, is Sagrada Familia. A church in the making for close to 200 years and no where close to completion yet. One look at the various completed facades reveals what is taking so long. Almost every available portion of the outer walls are covered in quirky, yet exquisite sculptures. Its truly a sight to behold and a must visit spot.
If you are an architecture buff or just like immersing yourself in history you can't miss Barri Gòtic which has a huge number of hidden marvels that could take well over a day to explore fully by walk. I spent a wonderful day roaming the streets of this part of Barcelona and later headed to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc to relax and try my hand at some night photography.
I headed the next morning to the city of Girona about 100 kms north of Barcelona to catch my flight to Pisa, Italy. Its an idyllic small town almost frozen in time (except for the stores of extremely expensive apparels) and is a wonderful place to relax in after walking around for 7 days. If I ever retire, I would want it to be to small town like this. While it is probably not worth a place on the itinerary for people on short trips to Spain, its airport serves as a hub for low cost inter-country travel to other European nations.
Thus ended my first trip to Spain, with the hope of many more trips in the future to explore more of this wonderful nation.