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What do Emperor Augustus, Christopher Columbus, and the Olympic Games have in common?  They all loved spending time in this venerable Mediterranean port -- and the 1992 Games sparked an absolute renaissance!  Palm trees and a balmy climate are just the beginning.

If you like the idea of houses with curvy walls, houses with bizarre rooftop chimney gardens, and cathedrals that seem to drip down from the sky, then follow the Antonio Gaudi trail when you visit.  Architect Extraordinaire, Gaudi left behind the above-mentioned houses (must be seen to be believed), plus his most remarkable work-in-progress:  The Sagrada Familia church. It’s still a work in progress; in fact the interior is one big construction zone...Hardhats required!  Serious Gaudi-ophiles should also make the trek to the Parc Guell to see his big lizards.  Memorable.

If you trend more towards Classical, check out the Museum of the City's History (Museu Historia de la Ciutat).  Enter from the street and press the elevator "Down" button.  Underneath the modern streets lie extensive remains of Roman "Barkino", including laundry shops, wine-making stores, streets, and ancient houses. Apparently, life was pretty good back in the day. Afterwards, ascend and pursue the history of the modern cathedral right next door.  Like much in Barcelona, they're right on top of each other. 

Barcelona also offers impressive artistic credentials, due to the success of local artists like Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso.  Picasso and Miro each have their own museum and their own partisans.

Definitely leave time to ramble down the Ramblas, a long pedestrian thoroughfare that runs from the central Placa de Catalunya to the water, ending near a statue of "uber"-voyager Christopher Columbus.  Along the way, you’ll pass through the "birds" section, the "flowers" section, and the "artists" section, with plenty of opportunities to separate yourself from your money, if you wish.

Did I mention food?  Eating in Barcelona is a real treat, as long as you don't mind starting dinner at around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.  (Expect lunch to begin at 1 p.m. with most local diners strolling in around 3 pm.) Mediterranean cuisine with a Catalonian twist prevails.  If you need to eat earlier, tapas are ubiquitous for pre-dinner munchies and one could even flit from bar to bar, sampling the local wares instead of waiting for a full dinner later on.

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