What city captivates me like no other? When it comes to the overall feeling, vibe and atmosphere and the taste of a culture, Barcelona takes the title.
Coming out of my (what almost seems like the longest) winter, and finally and quite happily parting ways with my winter jacket, I embraced the summer with my arms wide open. The weather was blissfully shinning throughout my whole stay in Barcelona. So with the perfect weather that I was lucky enough to endure through my stay, what does one do in Barcelona?
Besides playing starfish and working on my Mediterranean tan at its’ sun kissed coastline playground, there is plenty to do, plenty to see and of course, plenty to eat in the pulsating city of Barcelona!
Barcelona is home to the unique, futuristic architectural talents of Antoni Gaudi. A visit to all his neo-gothic and modernist masterpieces that are scattered across Barcelona including Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Park Güell and the opulent Sagrada Familia that dominates the Barcelona skyline, are a must!
The main tourist strip La Ramblas, is bustling at all hours however, the more noteworthy stop along this strip is to explore the lively, colourful and gluttonous playground, La Boqueria. Your mouth will be salivating with all the remarkable fresh produce, meats, fish, cured meats and juices on offer while slowly pacing through Europe’s biggest food market. Takeaway Tapas and pintxos stands are plentiful but to really soak up the atmosphere of this food lovers’ paradise, hop on a stool at a small restaurant bar where you can watch your dish being made with the freshest ingredients right in front of your hungry eyes.
Venture out and hop on a bicycle to explore outside of the main tourist circus of La Ramblas. Parc de Montjuïc offers a fantastic view over the city and has a lot to offer including botanical gardens, museums and is home to the 1992 Olympic Games stadium.
After the gruelling feat of getting to the top (you can catch a bus if you are feeling lazy), take a stroll down Blai street which is home to many tapas and pintxos bars. The most famous, Quimet I Quimet is a must. A local and tourist favourite, this small tapas and wine bar has people sprawling out of its’ small shop front for good reason. The food is beyond amazing. Salmon, yogurt and truffle honey tapas anyone? First opening its doors in 1914, this is the type of place where you will be more than happy to drop some serious coin as the food is not only of high quality but is an experience in itself.
To get a real local feel of the Catalan way of life, visit Gràcia. The streets are cluttered with local small bars and restaurants. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the local Catalan sport Castell in the local square whereas people stand on top of one another to build a human tower. The tradition dates back to the 18th century as a sporting event and is still alive today! It really is a fascinating sight to behold, watching small children climbing like monkeys to the top of the human tower!
I was lucky enough to stumble upon the annual mid year event, De Tapes per Barcelona where over 40 establishments located within close proximity to one another, take part in the ultimate tapas festival. Carefully mapped out like a treasure hunt, it is a food lovers’ quest to visit each establishment as each one has their most famed tapas and a drink on offer for the bargain price of €2.50! Some places were so local that if you hadn’t known, you would have simply walked by without giving a second glance and this is what made such an exciting and authentic food experience. I am making the big call in saying that this was by far the best culinary experience of my life and also a fun way to explore the city.
Good food, drinks and sun aplenty is the way of life in Barcelona. No wonder why people are always smiling and there is a positive energy radiating throughout the city, if you have all three, how can you ever complain? You are in paradise!
**1st Published on Travel Industry Exhibition on 23rd June 2015**