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Barcelona

Barcelona as a city really is the prettiest in the class. She has it all - art, architecture, beaches, views, shopping and exquisite gastronomy, to name but a few of her virtues. She is a city suited to ambling, admiring and acquiring in equal measure.

Gothic architecture is interspersed with contemporary sculptures; masts of vast teak sail boats vie with ancient monuments and avant garde modern buildings down at the harbor; and tiny chocolate and churros cafes hold court next to Michelin starred tapas restaurants.

For the art and architecture fiend, Gaudí, Picasso, Miro, Lichtenstein and more all have their stake in Barcelona. Towering Miro sculptures appear from nowhere; Gaudí's Park Güell offers respite from the summer sun and La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and Sagrada Família are more Gaudí masterpieces not to be missed. Lichtenstein graces the marina while Picasso has his own museum.

Barcelona for children is easy. A trip on the Montjuïc cable car or a visit to the Olympic grounds are sure to enthrall. Take them for a gallivant on the 5km sandy beach with bucket and spade in hand and then for the flagging energy levels treat them with a sugar boost in the form of the Catalan lava thick hot chocolate with a sugary churros to dunk. Barcelona's aquarium boasts a dazzling display of sea creatures that will amaze young and old. And for an adrenaline rush, journey to Tibidabo Hill for magificent views and the city's oldest amusement park, built in 1899.

Children and adults alike will delight in the mind-boggling visual and actual feast that is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a bustling covered market offering artisan honey and whole legs of Iberican ham alongside hand crafted chocolates and thirst quenching freshly squeezed Valencian orange juice.

All in all, Barcelona does have something for everyone and is justifiably one of Europe's most exciting and diverse cities. And the Catalan welcome you are sure to enjoy makes it even more special.

Barcelona is a year round destination. From mid-June to the end of August is the Barcelona Summer Festival - El Grec embraces theater, music, dance, flamenco, film and circus. Or for book lovers the National Day of Sant Jordi, 23rd April when men give a rose to their amour and ladies a book in return!

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