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A City Made for You

Recommended for : Culture

Barcelona was made for the urban specialist. Where else can you find public art like Frank Gehry's mammoth fish on a beach or a bull ring turned mega shopping mall? It's not so much what to do but what to do first. Begin by checking into the gay-friendly Hotel 1898, on the northern end of La Ramba, the city's grand promenade and a short walk to the Gothic Quarter, Plaça Catalunya and Gaixample.

What better way to begin exploring the city than by strolling La Rambla or Las Ramblas when all its segments are lumped in? Less than a mile running between Plaça Catalunya in the north and Port Vell near the cruise port terminal, it has shopping, restaurants, clubs, major attractions and lively street life. The southern end, however, is a little sketchy at night, so pace yourself accordingly. Most interesting time to mosey is before 2 pm. If you run out of stream or time, three Metro stops are along the way.
La Rambla is essentially a pedestrian way with one-way traffic lanes on either side. About midway, near the Liceu Theatre, you can walk on a section of sidewalk designed by Joan Miró. Other highlights: La Boqueria, the public market where you can take in the sights and grab a bite, Palau Güell, Plaça Reial, the flower stalls, street performers who impersonate statues, street artists who sketch your portrait on the spot. There are better placed in town to eat but few better for savoring the scene over a sangria.

Retreat to the spa at Hotel 1894 to re-energize for another stroll --- this time around Career Diputació in Exiemple where many gay bars, restaurants and clubs are located - or revisit Plaça Reial after dark for some classic flamenco and classic jazz.