I fell in love with Barcelona on my third visit to Spain. Wherever you travel in Spain, you get that wonderful Mediterranean mixture of the old and the new existing side by side in perfect harmony. Barcelona epitomises that fascinating mixture in its architecture and culture. It is the second largest city in Spain and the Catalonian capital.

Barcelona nestles on the shores of the Mediterranean, on the north-east coast of the Iberian peninsula and beckons visitors in that tantalising way that only Mediterranean towns and cities can. One visit to Barcelona and you are hooked!

Its most fascinating aspect is Las Ramblas a road that cuts deep into the heart of the city and offers an exciting array of stalls, bars, restaurants and street entertainment from morning until late into the night; not to mention hotels full of character and charm offering best to stay on the Ramblas. However, you need to keep a tight rein on your purse-strings as market prices can vary dramatically.

The little market stalls are a riot of colour and enticing objects, from exotic fruits and vegetables, flowers and birds, to tapas bars and portrait art. Exhibitions, theatres and living street sculpture spill into the streets to provide endless entertainment for those at leisure to enjoy it. The Gaudi and Baroque architecture vies for attention with the contemporary art work and wax museums.

Barcelona is steeped in history, its roots going back to Roman times; though it is perhaps its Gothic influence that visitors find most striking. But of course, a holiday in Spain would not be a proper holiday without beautiful beaches to laze on. Barcelona has over 4 kilometres of idyllic, sandy beaches just minutes from the city centre.

For the more energetic, just about every water sport imaginable is available at one or other of the four main beach areas. But if, like me, you enjoy a leisurely swim and a spot of gentle sun therapy, there are plenty of picture-postcard beach huts to ensure you remain hydrated, cool and content.

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