Barcelona: A Spanish Getaway
Barcelona or (Barca) and I aren’t breaking up anytime soon, it treats me too good. I’ve visited Barcelona to date four times, the most recent being last month. We arrived on a windy but sunny day, which continued throughout the weekend. Barcelona is definitely a pretty city. The buildings are a mix of old and new; I do believe that is partly due to Barcelonans being very proud of their Catalan roots and their struggle to hold on to them. There are a lot of labyrinths surrounding Las Ramblas (the Oxford Street of Barcelona), which leads you to places that you weren’t even looking for. But that is always the joy of being on holiday.
The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is one of the places to visit! Even if you don’t go in, just looking at the church is amazing and it’s not even fully built yet. See if you can get a photo of yourself and the church from top to bottom in one snap; we struggled.
One of the main developments I’ve noticed with Barcelona is that it seems to be getting more multi-cultural every time I go. I’ve gone from being stared at like an anomaly in 2005 (my first visit) to ten years later people being in shock as to why I’m not a local. It is one of those cities, that now I instantly feel comfortable in. Another visual change was the economical situation; Barcelona just wasn’t as bustling as previous visits, however it didn’t hinder us from having a good time.
Barcelona’s accommodation types are plentiful and suits all budgets. We chose to stay in an apartment in the district of El Born. It was a moderately priced apartment but it allowed us to feel like we were living in Barca (even if it was only for the weekend).
The El Born district is a convenient area to have a base in, as it’s near everything but it’s also quite calm. The area itself is a mix of locals and tourists and provides for both. You’ll find everything from stray cats looking up at the local women on their balconies, to vintage and souvenirs shops, supermarkets, Afro-Caribbean barbers and the must see Picasso museum.
There is also an array of Asian and of course traditional Spanish restaurants; ranging from budget to ‘if you have a budget don’t go there’ priced restaurants. My pick of a good eatery would be Taperia Princesa; it serves traditional Spanish and Mexican tapas dishes. We had about 15 tapas between the two of us (don’t judge) and it came to about £30. The menu is interactive, so you tick the box corresponding to the food you want and hand it to the waiter; think Argos, but you pay after you get your products.
Barcelona has an old style food market, called Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, off of Las Ramblas. The Market has been around since 1217. It serves everything from meats, spices, and fresh fruit to cups to tapas. The traditional outweighs the modern here, it’s a nice feeling.
Barcelona's Metropolitan Art Museum
The Barcelona Metropolitan Art Museum definitely warrants a visit is the modern art museum as it houses exhibits of all subjects; it reminds me a bit of the Southbank Centre especially the skaters outside. The beach in the summer is a must, not many main cities have beaches, which makes Barcelona even more Barca.
I love Barcelona for this. It appeals to all types of music interests. I refer to Barcelona as the 2 stopper. There are bars and clubs that open from 8pm and close about 2am and then there are clubs that open around 11pm and can have you up to the break of dawn. So if you like to dance like I do, a 2 stopper is nessecito. BCN Antilles club (more of a 2ndstop) caters for the Caribbean and Latino music lovers; it plays all types of music from Calypso, Bachata, Reggaeton, Merengue, Kizomba and Salsa. The drinks are expensive but the vibe makes you forget that. I love that the crowd represents the music and the stamp it has had on Spanish society.
Al Sur (In El Born) is my favourite bar by far (1st stopper); it’s definitely a bar to eat good moderately priced food and drink. The ambience is sophisticated but not pretentious. The music is on point but not intrusive and the staff compliment the atmosphere. Non- drinkers take note though, for some reason a lot of their cocktails are cheaper than their mocktails; I don’t think anyone has ever made a complaint about that though.
There is a shuttle service to take you into the centre of Barcelona for around £9 one way. Once you’re in the centre, getting around Barcelona is pretty easy. The metro system runs 24 hours on the weekend and is easy to use, but not if you forget to bring your flats on a night out! We bought ten single journey tickets; which lasted us the entire three days; mainly as we walked a lot (Barcelona is big, but not massive). Taxis on the other hand... a little expensive. There was a point when a taxi driver was driving quite slowly, so we asked if he could speed up (as we thought he was trying to bump us). However he explained to us that if he goes fast the meter will charge us more by the mile, I think the disbelief on our faces spurred him to show us. He wasn’t lying.
Change is constant and Barcelona isn’t an exception to this rule, but that’s why it never gets old to me. Check Barca out; it caters to everyone so I don’t think it’ll disappoint you.