My sister and I met in Barcelona last week and stayed there a few days. We don’t see much of each other at the moment so when path-crossing becomes possible I become fairly sick with excitement. In the city, we walked and talked endlessly. It is an enchanting place, particularly in the winter when there are fewer tourists and one can fall into a more local rhythm. It was cold, but the sun shone often and the sea was almost the same shade of cerulean as the sky.
We rented a room through Airbnb and stayed in Poble Sec. The neighbourhood is slightly outside the city centre and living with locals means you tap into a city’s consciousness more thoroughly and feel you aren’t simply scratching the surface of a place. Poble Sec has some great bars and eateries. Favourites included Federal, Cometa which serves a delicious tomato and jamòn sandwich and Quimet & Quimet for tapas, though this place gets hugely busy and hectic, not for the faint-hearted but a thoroughly delicious experience. Best to venture in after a glass or two of local vermouth to calm the nerves.
An excellent guide to Barcelona can be found on Marta Greber’s whatshouldieatforbreakfasttoday. She offers great advice on where to eat and drink, as well as sites to see that are off the beaten track. Brunch and Cake, Maccaroni (who do an absurdly good tiramisù) and an obscure little churros place on Carrer dels Banys Nous were particularly pleasant finds. Granja Petitbo is great for an afternoon drink with its big windows and street corner location.
Barcelona has no shortage of places to drink. Local vermouth is experiencing a new lease of life and the wine is so cheap and delicious it would bring any northern European to tears. My favourite place for refreshment was hands down Bar Pasajes, not far from the cathedral. Located behind some unassuming garage doors, the bar is long and narrow and occupies most of a small gallery beneath a block of flats. One can sit at any of the make-shift surfaces and savour delicous wine and vinigary olives.
Art runs rife in Barcelona and there is a plethora of interesting museums to visit. The Fundació Joan Miró in Montjuic was great and showcased a range of sculptures and paintings by Miró who was from the area. Parc Güell with its panoramic views and leafy paths is also worth a visit. There are some stunning churches in Barcelona which unfortunately one has to pay to get into. Santa Maria del Mar was particularly beautiful. Waiting until the evening is a good idea as you can sometimes get in for free.
Sitting on the grass in the Parc de la Ciutadella on a Sunday evening marked the end of the trip. The city weaves a web of magic around its inhabitants and visitors. It becomes difficult to leave its angular boulevards flanked by weird and wonderful architecture. The food and drink, the people, the sea that bathes the city’s edges, are hypnotic and enticing.