i've heard so many people rave about barcelona, that the expectations were high. we arrived there after paris the first time and then later we went back after morocco; destinations we were still reeling from, so it had a lot of work to do to wow us. it was great, it just wasn't my favourite like i expected it to be. it seems like it's a place that comes alive at night and heading out at 10:30 has never been my thing. however, during the day it was wonderful- packed full of tourists- but wonderful. it is lined with the sweet european streets you'd imagine, but more than that it is home to the most spectacular Gaudi architecture everywhere (i'm pretty sure he owns the place ;). also, i didn't know a lot about Catalonia being different to the spain i had envisioned (i was hoping for flamenco dancing and matadors, but that doesn't happen there) and we were visiting at a time when the Catalan majority's desire to separate was high (magnified by the poor economic climate in Spain). however, it is a beautiful, bustling mediterranean seaside city full of music, delicious food, mosaics galore, history, colour and sparkle. barcelona held a raw quality that i admired; an edge that caught me by surprise.