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Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East

A Visitors Guide To Barcelona Spain
By:Thomas Smith

Barcelona-a sparkling jewel of a city by the sea-is the second biggest city in Spain and the birthplace of many of the world's greatest artists, including painters Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. The great artistic tradition of this city is reflected in its many museums and galleries, as well as the beauty of its architecture. Just looking at the wide range of architectural styles-from Roman to modern-can be a lesson in history. Other signs of Barcelona's cultural presence include a number of great libraries and universities, beautiful museums and galleries, and a growing film industry. Throughout its 2000 year history, Barcelona has welcomed outside visitors and incorporated elements of their cultures into their own. This is evident in everything from the languages spoken (Spanish and Catalan) to the huge variety of dining options.

Despite Europe's pricey reputation, there's no need to spend a ton of money to stay in Barcelona. One of the city's top hotels-Hotel Diagonal (205 Venida Diagonal)-isn't just a gorgeous piece of modern architecture, but also amazingly affordable (less than $200 per night for a double room). Barcelona architect Juli Capella designed this stylish hotel, which attracts locals and tourists alike with its hip amenities. Each of the hotel's 240 rooms has a slightly different design, thus removing the cookie-cutter feeling that away-from-home accommodations can have. The high-ceilinged dining room of the hotel's signature restaurant dishes up the best in Basque and Catalan cuisine. Among the other amenities are a laid-back caf where guests can help themselves to a buffet breakfast, a piano bar that caters to a cool, young crowd, an outdoor pool for cooling off, and a solarium that provides a marvelous view of the city. Hotel Diagonal even offers its guests special deals, such as the "Cultural Barcelona" package, which provides discounted room rates along with tickets to hot tourist destinations.

The best time of year to visit Barcelona is the fall, after the busy summer tourist season. Located on the Mediterranean coast, weather is mild year-round, but autumn temperatures are the most comfortable, with temperatures in the upper 60s and lower 70s. Fewer tourists mean less crowds-an important factor in a city chock-full of fascinating places to visit-and lower hotel rates. During the off-season, deals can also be found at local shops and restaurants, so ask around.

The list of must-see places in Barcelona is quite lengthy, which means you might not be able to hit them all, but two places that you should try your best to squeeze into your itinerary are the Museo Picasso and the Fundacion Joan Miro. These museums are dedicated to two of the city's most famous inhabitants-world-renowned painters Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro-and feature in-depth looks at their lives and works. As for getting a taste of the delectable goodness that is Catalan cuisine, head to Mercat de la Boqueria (located on La Rambla), which has been sited by Travel + Leisure magazine as being the top food market in Spain. Full of highly-skilled vendors serving prime local dishes, this market showcases some of the best that Spanish cooking has to offer. And of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to one of its many street markets. If you're looking for gifts to bring home that truly reflect Barcelona culture, make sure to check out Fira de Nautumismo (located in Placa Reial), a flea market which features the wares of dozens of local artisans, along with a multitude of Spanish collectibles.

You can find a Barcelona Spain hotel by going to the Search Spain Hotels website www.searchspainhotels.com/Barcelona-1.shtml Our website also showcases Barcelona vacation packages, car rentals, flights to Barcelona and last minute deals.

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