Old Town Barcelona

Old Town, Barcelona

The bottom of La Rambla was our starting poinLa Ramblat for the day as we set out to explore the old town area of Barcelona. This tree lined street was actually once a river, with a 13th century city wall following it. At the bottom of La Rambla is a monument to Columbus overlooking the street and sea. Just off La Rambla, is one of the first works of the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, Palau Güell. The spire-like chimneys are the only hint of colour that can be seen from the street. For some fresh fruit, fish or meat be sure to stop at Boqueria food market. The market originated from the 13th centurBarcelona Cathedraly and today is one of the top markets in the world! If you have the time you can even sign up for a cooking class there.

After that, we began to wander through the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), the oldest part of the city chosen by the Romans. The Barcelona Cathedral stands on the old foundation of a Roman temple. The interior is beautiful and can be accessed anytime before noon for free, however make sure you’re covered up! We saw many women attempt to enter the church in shorts or thin straps on dresses but were required to wrap a scarf around their waist and shoulders before entering. Men wearing sleeveless shirts were also turned back. Don’t worry though, a man and woman were selling scarves out front from €0.50.

From the Gothic Quarter we worked ourParc de la Ciutadella way to Parc de la Ciutadella and Arc del Triomf, the main gateway to the 1888 International Exhibition. In the gardens is an incredible ornamental cascade designed by Joseph Fontsere and a young Antoni Gaudi. There is also a boating lake and although we never saw any, parrots living in the palm trees.

Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum + Gardens

The Horniman Museum and Gardens contain perfect bite size collections of nature, history and culture with a vast range of display gardens, buildings and sundials in their park. The nature trail is the oldest one in London running along the original site of the Crystal Palace and the South Junction Railway that was closed in 1954. Located in South London’s Forest Hill, the museum is less busy on weekends then the major city attractions, and is also FREE. The museum has been open since Victorian times when Frederick John Horniman showed off his collection to visitors at his house.

The Sound Garden, inspired by the musical instruments collection inside theSound Garden museum, stood out from the others for me. There are over 8,000 objects within this section of the museum, including the oldest pair of bone clappers made in Egypt 3,500 years ago! The garden has giant instruments all tuned in the same key. It would be fun to see a set of musicians jam out on these in the park. For now, kids (as well as my husband) can experiment with the different sounds. While we were there we kept thinking about how perfect this place would be to take our 5 year old nephew.

Victorian ConservatoryThe Victorian Conservatory at the side of the building is an additional architectural bonus to visiting the museum. It was originally built at the Horniman family residence in 1894, however it was moved and restored in 1988 to the museum. You can even rent out the conservatory for special events. From the pavilion you have a perfect view of the London skyline. We didn’t get that good of a photo though due to the lovely London rain.