Though I’ve lived here for the past 11 months, there are still parts of Barcelona that I am getting to know and love (and figure out just how close they are to my apartment when not using public transportation). So when my friend MG visited in May, I took advantage of once again being a tourist in my newly acquired city. After a great Japanese buffet at Wok, where MG saw just how international my MBA is by meeting a Portuguese and a Thai friend of mine we walked over to the Arc de Triomf. This spot holds particular significance for me because it was the starting and finish point for both the Mitja Marató de Barcelona and the Marató de Barcelona. Seeing that arc meant that I again reached outside of my comfort zone to tackle another long distance race, persevering to finish despite difficulties of heat and unexpected cramping.
Passeig de Lluis Companys is a long “park before the park” with benches, grassy areas good for lounging and a clear auto-free roadway for recreational bikers. It is lined with intricate, unusual lampposts and palm trees. Almost, reminiscent of being in Florida. It also makes for a great running route to the beach, by just going around the zoo.
Inside Parc Ciutadella there is a castle-like building flanked by more palm trees called Castell Dels Tres Dragons. It is an almost square building with 4 battlements and blue and white ceramic tiles adhered to all sides of the facade. I’m not sure of its historical significance, but it’s quite an interesting site as you enter the park and houses the Zoologic Museum. It almost feels like you have stepped into a fairy tale.
Beyond the castle, there is a small pond, always filled with two-person rowboats. I always wanted to try rowing on the Pond in Central Park, but never got around to it. Maybe I’ll add rowing in Parc Ciutadella to my Barcelona bucket list. It looks like it would be a lot of fun and rather unvisited, so maybe inexpensive.
I think my favorite part of this park is that life-sized wooly mammoth statue recessed in one of the walkways. It’s a sturdy figure that I have definitely climbed onto like this adorable little boy.
Another site that adds to the charm of this park is the fountain, designed by Gaudi student Josep Fontserè i Mestre. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, as the fountain is a massive focal feature decked out with gryphons and other mythical creatures. A bit over the top but no quite gaudy.
Seemingly out-of-place is another outstanding piece of art work near the north-western entrance. This large sculpture is just as fantastic as the other pieces in the park, but stands out due to the modernist feel, very divergent from the other whimsical pieces. It still has a certain appeal that only the most outrageous art would have. I’d definitely be back to visit the park again, now that the flowers are starting to bloom and there are perfect spots for outdoor pilates and yoga.