5 things to do in Barcelona, Spain: from Sagrada Familia to Barceloneta Beach

Barcelona

It may not be the capital of Spain, but Barcelona is most certainly the capital of Catalonia, and it’s one of the more bustling, thriving and varied cities that Europe has to offer. You might say it’s equipped with the perfect mix of old and new, and given its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, it also boasts something that most other major cities do not: a beach! Of course, figuring out things to do in this town isn’t quite as easy as deciding to come here, so we’re here to help. Read on for five incredible things to see and do while in Barcy, be it for business or pleasure.
%Gallery-117263%A visit to Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most famous church

Barcelona

Köln has The Dom, Paris has the Notre Dame Cathedral, and Barcelona has Sagrada Familia. Architected by the famed Antoni Gaudí, this massive Catholic place of worship doubles as a massive place of crowd gathering. It’s one of the more popular tourist stops in the city, and it’s well-positioned for finding other things to do within walking distance. Ground was broke on this church in 1882, and it’s still not done. Estimates say that it’ll be completed within the next two decades, but locals seem to have their doubts. Despite the cranes and construction, it’s still a sight to behold. You don’t have to go inside to appreciate it, but €12.50 (and a lot of waiting in line) will give you a lot more to savor.

A leisurely stroll through Parc Güell, another Gaudí masterpiece

Barcelona

Sense a trend? Barcelona’s face has been painted by Gaudí, and his impressions are all over this beautiful (and vast) park. There are a number of entryways, and none of them charge admission. The “Zona Monument” is the primary entrance, and you’ll know you’re there if you spot two tall, white-tiled towers surrounded by mobs of people and even more colored tiles. There’s a “lucky lizard” in the center of the monument that you’re supposed to kiss, but beware of the “live lizard” standing at the gate. He’ll happily pose for a photograph, but only after you cough up a bit of change. So much for free admission! (P.S. – Skip the photograph — the interior of the park is more deserving of your attention).

Dipping and dodging down La Rambla

Barcelona

Common sense (and we here at Gadling) will tell you to avoid La Rambla at night. We’ve had first-hand experience with a pal being mugged there. But despite its well-earned stereotype, it’s an interesting place to scope out during the day. Loads of street vendors are out in force with great deals, and there are mimes galore freezing for your cash. Just keep a close eye on your pockets, and enjoy the zaniness that can only be found on this street.

Museum merry-go-round

Barcelona

One of Barcelona’s strong points is its wealth of museums. It’s really hard to go wrong, but we’d recommend you either love design or have an open mind about learning more on the subject. La Pedrera (by Antoni Gaudí), Museu Futbol Club Barcelona (for soccer fans), Museum d’ Història de Catalunya (self-explanatory), Maritime Museum, the Catalan Museum of Archaeology and the Museo Picasso de Barcelona are all worth a visit if you’re into those types of things, but they’re obviously more attractive in the winter when you can’t just pop on your swim suit and head to our final recommendation.

Playa Barceloneta: a beach, in the city!

Barcelona

It’s true! Barcelona, unlike many metropolises, has a beach. And not a “nearby beach,” but a beach that’s firmly within the city and is just a quick walk from the center of town (or easily accessible via metro / taxi). Playa Barceloneta is hailed as one of the world’s best urban beaches, and we aren’t arguing. There’s a massive strip of sand to enjoy (for a city, mind you), and the Mediterranean Sea is lovely to jump in during the summer. If you arrive in the off-season, the sand still slips between your toes just as easily, but you’ll need a serious wetsuit (or skin made from steel) to handle the chilly waters.

Have any Barcelona tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below!

Valentine’s Day tribute: Sex museums around the world

sex museumsAh, Valentine’s Day. It’s a loaded holiday, one with high expectations. This year, though, I got into the spirit of things: I decided to rustle up a list of the world’s great sex museums. Even if you can’t pay a visit, their websites are informative and loaded with photos of exhibits. And best of all? You can indulge all by yourself, no relationship needed.

Erotic Heritage Museum, Las Vegas
The somewhat bizarre collaboration of a “Preacher and a Pornographer,” this pleasure palace houses over 17,000 square feet of artistically expressive erotica. Behold, ye Larry Flynt and “Ho-Down Mural” exhibitions.

Sex Machines Museum, Prague
Call me a perv, but how cool is this? A museum devoted entirely to the history and display of, to quote the website, “mechanical erotic appliances, the purpose of which is to bring pleasure and allow extraordinary and unusual positions during intercourse.” Okey dokey. There’s also a small theater for viewing old erotic cinema.

Museum of Sex, New York
It may not be the among the best-known of the city’s museums, but this monument to sex education, history, and cultural significance isn’t just for academics. It’s a good time, too. With rotating exhibits and virtual installations on everything from the “Sex Lives of Animals” and “Kink,” to a tribute to American pin-up photography, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to stop at the OralFix Aphrodisiac Cafe for an erotic elixir.

Sexmuseum Amsterdam
The Dutch are known for their rather laid-back attitude toward things the rest of the world tends to frown upon, which is one reason they’re so much fun. The famed “Venustempel” in Amsterdam is focused on “the theme of sensual love.” And hey–the four euro entry fee is a lot cheaper than the Red Light District.

Museu de l’erotica, Barcelona
Dedicated to the exploration of erotica in all its various forms: anthropological, archaeological, sociological, artistic, literary, and something called “plastic arts.” Hm. Located in Barcelona’s architecturally stunning La Rambla neighborhood.

[Photo credit: Flickr user SWANclothing]

sex museumsThe Icelandic Phallological Museum, Husavik (northern island)
This collection of over “two hundred and nine penises and penile parts” represents nearly all of the land and marine animals native to Iceland. Not as creepy as it sounds, the museum provides a base for modern research on the study of phallology. If that offends you, please consider the multi-billion-dollar male sexual enhancement/aid industry.
[Photo credit: Elín Eydís Friðriksdóttir]

World Erotic Art Museum, Miami
WEAM is home to the largest collection of erotic art in the United States, including sculpture and art objects. Rest assured it’s a lot more tasteful than what you’ll see parading on Ocean Drive.

Musee de l’Erotisme, Paris
Paris. Sex. Art. Need I say more?

China Sex Museum, Tongli
Located 50 miles outside of Shanghai in a former fishing village, this museum is dedicated to “over 9,000 years of Chinese sexual history,” with over 1,500 exhibits and artifacts. I am most definitely curious about the “Women and marriage” exhibit. Does it have a headache?

Condom Museum, Nonthaburi (approximately one hour from…hee…Bangkok)
The Ministry of Public Health opened this little museum, located in the Department of Medical Sciences building, in 2010. Its purpose is to develop awareness about HIV/AIDS and eliminate negative public perception about condom use (ironic, given that Thailand is the world’s largest producer of condoms).

If all that condomizing leaves you famished, perhaps you’d like to grab dinner at Cabbages & Condoms in Bangkok? Founder Mechai Viravaidya is a sexual awareness activist who has promoted condom use for the last 30 years. Partial proceeds go toward projects for the Population and Community Development Association (PDA). Watch Mechai give a restaurant tour and explain his mission in the below clip. Have a “safe” Valentine’s Day!


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