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Trip Report Barcelona - Am I the only one who wasn't blown away?

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Barcelona was the final leg of my trip which included Madrid, Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada.

First let me say that, although I can't rave about the city, I'm glad I went. La Sagrada Familia alone is worth the trip. However, in my mind, I was expecting a much more beautiful city.

Barcelona is often touted as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe along with Paris, Venice and Prague. But I find this grossly exaggerated. Compared to Paris, which is consistently beautiful, Barcelona feels like an ordinary city with a few nice buildings scattered here and there.

My disappointment started on the first day. I made the mistake of staying in El Raval. I knew beforehand that this was not the most desirable neighborhood. But I thought to myself: "This is Europe. How can bad can it really be?" Really bad. Nothing could have prepared me for all the grit and seediness. Drug dealers outnumber tourists. There's one on every corner. The streets are littered and smelly. One ATM was so covered in goo and filth I could hardly read the numbers. Guidebooks describe this area as bohemian and edgy. Now I know this is euphemism for "slum".

Equally seedy and not far away is La Rambla, a tacky street lined with tasteless souvenir shops and mediocre restaurants.

The Gaudi apartments are beautiful but not breathtakingly beautiful. I'm sure they are very interesting in terms of ergonomic design but they just don't have that wow factor of Renaissance or Gothic architecture. Palau Guell is depressingly somber. Casa Batllo is great, but has a surprisingly ugly rear façade. Park Guell is slightly underwhelming.(The Gaudi sculptures are nice, but they could use a better surrounding. Too much sand.)

Another thing that Barcelona is famous for is its nightlife.
Coming from the hustle and bustle of Madrid, Barcelona felt sleepy in comparison.
Also, this was the only place in Spain where I encountered rude waiters. The city as a whole didn't feel as welcoming and inviting as the rest of Spain.

I don't understand why Barcelona gets all the hype over Madrid. Park Retiro blows Park Guell out of the water. And I know that Madrid isn't particularly noted for its architecture, but for me the Metropolis and Cibeles Palace are far more beautiful than anything I saw in Barcelona. Madrid as a whole felt much classier, grander and cleaner than Barcelona.

Am I the only one who felt this way?

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