Barcelona, the colorful capital of Catalonia, where sport, history and culture course through the veins of the locals. The city where seemingly every building is an artwork, every open space is a canvas and where passion is painted with pride in the red and yellow stripes that adorn the regional flag. This is Barcelona – an avant-garde city always on the move and you’re invited to tag along. Artists have thrived in the city for centuries, and one of the most influential people to have left a mark on its appearance is undoubtedly local boy, Antoni Gaudi, so much so in fact that his works have collectively been accepted as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Next to the restaurants and tapas bars of La Rambla, you’ll find the first of Gaudi’s masterpieces. The Palau Güell rises majestically from a rather non-descript street, and behind the cast-iron gates, you’ll find truly awe-inspiring palatial splendor. Heading further north you’ll come to two of Gaudi’s most famous buildings. First the Casa Batlló, with its surreal façade of egg-shaped windows and wave-like features, and next, the truly magnificent, albeit still unfinished, Sagrada Familia. With its steep spires, gargoyles and sheer size, this Catalan jewel is guaranteed to take your breath away. Complete the Gaudi-tour by making your way to the Park Güell. With panoramic views of the city, colorful, mosaic-like architecture and greenery, it’s a delightful place of rest away from the urban bustle. Regardless of which direction you go in in the city, you are never far from something truly stunning. The city is full of castles, museums, delicious restaurants, trendy bars, theatres, churches and just generally lots of great things to see and do.
A modern and thriving city, Madrid has grown steadily over the last couple of centuries and is today an artistic and vibrant metropolis with glimpses of its medieval and romantic past. The city’s endless list of boutiques, cafes and gastro-bars will leave you spoilt for choice with endless places to eat, drink and experience Spanish culture. When you think of Madrid, greenery is probably not the first thing that comes to mind but, the city is home to stunning parks that will blow you away including the 8-hectare Botanical Garden and the Retiro Park, which is the largest park in the city. All the main streets meet in the Puerta del Sol from which you can easily walk north passing Gran Via to the lively and vibrant areas of Malasana and Chueca. Here you will find narrow streets lined with vintage boutiques, restaurants and bars where the sound of live music and the scent of great food fill the air. Stroll through the Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid’s most stylish avenue, which has designer shops and luxurious hotels to marvel at. For culture, don’t miss the museums such as the famous Prado, the modern Reina Sofia and the fascinating Thyssen-Bornemisza.
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