Monday, March 28, 2011

The Magic of Barcelona

Barcelona is incredibly scenic, absolutely breathtaking, and without a doubt one of the most popular spots in Spain. We regularly hear about friends and family planning a trip to this great city, and its magic has also been recorded in literature, films, and modern art. Home to one of Europe’s largest ports, Barcelona doesn’t simply draw art-lovers and cosmopolitan foodies, but honest-to-goodness sailors who know their stuff.

When You’re at Sea...
Expert Stuart Butler told CNN exactly what places he loved when he set sail from Barcelona. Got your adventure cap on?

Costa Brava: Butler says that Costa Brava is more challenging to explore for the average sailor, due to the higher tourist concentration, but he recommends Aiguablava, which has limited space for parking and is therefore much quieter.

Butler Says: "The area around Palafrugell and Begur contains a string of pocket-sized coves with minty blue waters and a very low-key, and often quite exclusive, tourist industry. Although yachting facilities are fairly limited, this area is exceptionally popular with sailors who like to moor up off the quiet coves."

Bay of Roses: The Bay of Roses is full of intimate coves that can be reached by foot or by boat, and this area is particularly perfect for those planning on sailing to France after. Due to strong winds, sailing is slightly more challenging--or "exhilarating," as Butler put it.

CNN, Butler Says: "Cadaqués was the adopted home of eccentric artist Salvador Dali, and as such, ‘the town retains something of a bohemian and artistic feel. The region is littered with small, intimate coves -- the majority of which can only be reached by foot or boat."

Illedes Medes: The Illedes Medes is known for some of the best diving on the Western Mediterranean, and if you're a nature person, it'll take your breath away.

Butler Says: "Some 1,300 different species of plants and animals have been seen in the waters around here, including conger eels, moray eels, rays and giant groupers -- some of which might even feed from your hand."

Port Olympic Marina: This spot between Barcelona and Icaria features a landmark sculpture built by renown architect, Frank Gehry, called "Peix" (fish). The marina and the surrounding tourist-friendly development (cafes, shops, and restaurants) is a product of the 1992 Olympics.

Butler Says: "Prior to the '92 Olympics this part of Barcelona was fairly neglected and run-down. But ever since it has been undergoing a steady gentrification and is considered the best place in Barcelona to eat seafood."

Where to Stay
Do the “real sailors” sleep on the boat? These hotels in Barcelona are begging to be booked and settled into, all over the city, so take a break at one of these top destinations.

Majestic Hotel and Spa, Barcelona
The name says it all. The Majestic Hotel and Spa is situated perfectly for landlubbers accompanying a pro sailor on a trip to Barcelona, with its close proximity to Las Ramblas, the Plaza de Cataluña, and the Barrio Gótico. 303 suites and rooms suit exacting types and have experienced a recent renovation.

Hotel Arts Barcelona
Barcelona’s Hotel Arts doesn’t just have rooms and suites, but 28 stylish apartments for those who require extra space or those who’re planning on a longer stay. The Six Senses Spa is something you must experience, as is the distinctive neighborhood in which Hotel Arts Barcelona lives.

Hotel Claris, Barcelona
Got a foodie in the family? The Hotel Claris is a gastronomic playground for those extra-serious about their food, and a Mediterranean flair to the dishes brings you the freshest ingredients and innovative combinations that have gotten Hotel Claris plenty of attention. The hotel also happens to be right in the center of the action, close to the Passeig de Gràcia.

Meridien Barcelona
This beautiful building is situated close to the harbor, so you can be there in a flash to tend to your daily boating plan. Le Meridien Barcelona is near the Gothic quarter and the El Liceo Opera Theatre and features Cent Onze, the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

After you’ve spent a day sitting by the Barcelona Harbor, you will plan on going back again and again, even if you don’t sail. Those who come to Barcelona can’t get enough of it: Doesn’t everyone know a friend who loves it?

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