Friday, December 5, 2014

Free to see in Barcelona

Put aside culture, vibrance, beauty, architecture, and atmosphere. What makes Barcelona one of our favorite cities is value. If you know my husband, then you know he enjoys a bargain, and with our first dinner check totaling 13 euros and a 20 euro massage that he describes as the best massage ever, you can see why he loved our recent trip to the capital of Catalonia.

Even without the benefit of a massage, I find much to adore about Barcelona. Here are three favorite fabulous free things we discovered:

Roof of Arenas de Barcelona at Plaça Espanya

I'm not sure I'll be able to find Arenas de Barcelona 
shopping mall, but when we emerge from 
the subway, it's right across the street.

Interior of Arenas de Barcelona
Not much inside the huge shopping center interests me,
but the snack bar at the cinema catches my eye because ...

... this is some colorful popcorn!
View from the rooftop of Arenas de Barcelona

View from of Plaça Espanya from the rooftop of Arenas de Barcelona

Font Màgica de Montjuïc

A magic fountain? Really? I'm intrigued, but skeptical. After our rooftop stroll, we cross Plaça Espanya and pass through the Venetian Towers toward the Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya (MNAC). This area was built for the 1929 International Exhibition and is one of the city's main traffic hubs. 

We arrive about 45 minutes before showtime and score two seats at an outdoor snack bar. One cheap wine, a beer and a bottle of water assures us ringside seats for the Magic Fountain show. About a thousand spectators are seated on the MNAC steps and hundreds are milling around, but our view is unimpared.

I anticipate that I'll be able to endure about 15 minutes of watching water, but as soon as the music starts and the lights and water begin their dance, I am totally hooked. 

Believe me, the pictures I post here do not do justice to the spectacle that is Font Màgica. The fountain performs Thursdays through Sundays in the high season, and Fridays and Saturdays in the autumn/winter. 

Font Màgica de Montjuïc

Font Màgica de Montjuïc

 Sunday Afternoon with Pablo: Museu Picasso

Pablo Picasso lived in Barcelona throughout most of his teens, and it is said he wished his museum to be located here. Of course there are Picasso museums in Paris and in the south of France, but nowhere else is so large a collection of his early work. The museum is spread through several Gothic palaces over six blocks in the Ribera district. 

I have done my homework and know the museum is free after 3 p.m. on Sundays (all day on the first Sunday of the month). We arrive around 2:15 and join the line of about 100 people. By the time the clock strikes three, and we are heading inside, the line winds around the block (and still is long when we leave the museum a few hours later).

I can't take pictures inside, so a few photos of the colorful La Ribera district will have to suffice.

Lady in La Ribera

Painter across from Museu Picasso

Architectural detail in La Ribera

Architectural detail in La Ribera

Architectural detail in La Ribera

A sculpture by Julio Nieto at Cathedral of Barcelona

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