Barcelona… <sigh> While only spending two brief days here, I fell in love with a city that is metropolitan but chill, large but navigable, and artsy but unassuming.
The vibe in this city differs drastically from other European cities. Is it the proximity to the sea? Is it the mix of old Gothic architecture and modern, whimsical structures? Or is it simply the abundance of delicious tapas bars and cafes that encourage sitting for hours on a moment’s notice? I am not sure I can quantify, but I can tell you that I cannot wait to go back and explore all of the corners that I missed the first time around.
Have you ever met people with whom you feel immediately comfortable? Lucky for me, that happened on this trip! I was meeting a friend of mine who was traveling to Spain with her cycling friends for an epic week long bike trip through the Pyrenees. Also lucky for me, they did not invite me on that part of the trip! 🙂 HA!
We spent our two days wandering the city, tasting tapas and paella, and drinking tons of amazing Spanish wine. None of it was bad and all of it was inexpensive. Barcelona boasts a clean, efficient subway system that made hopping around the city easy. Taxis were also quite affordable.
La Rambla is the main drag which leads from the large central plaza, Placa de Catalunya, to the harbor. Although full of tourists, good food can be found tucked behind the larger restaurants with pictures on their menus. We adventured to the Mercat de la Boqueria, the main market with fresh fish and veggies as well as several food stands. Our mistake was to arrive hungry, and with the crowds we ended up eating elsewhere. Also sometimes it is hard for me to eat while in olfactory proximity to a butcher stand with rumens and reticulums sitting right there. This market reminded me a bit of the Mercato Centrale in Firenze, but more authentic and without the food court upstairs. If you ever see dried kiwis or strawberries, get some immediately. It is basically candy but I pretend it is fruit and then praise myself for making such good choices.
Our group attempted to go for a run in Park Guell, located slightly north of Placa de Catalunya. Our mistake was waiting until noon when it was both pretty hot and pretty crowded. Too many selfie sticks can ruin anyone’s athletic endeavors. Park Guell was designed by the Catalan Modernist Antoni Gaudi. I think that Dr. Seuss studied Gaudi’s works before illustrating his books. I loved this park with its crazy designs, and loved seeing this sort of architecture throughout the city. Next trip I think a sunrise run to Park Guell will be in order.
Barcelona’s waterfront is lined by a wide promenade that was filled with runners, roller bladers, and leisurely strollers. Interestingly, this area got the most crowded after 10 PM. I don’t know if it was the summer weather or if it’s because Barcelona is a party town that doesn’t stop till the sun comes up, but it was cool to see people running while we enjoyed dinner. The beach was ok- once you have Siesta Key sugar sand in your life it is hard to be impressed.
Barcelona- I love you and cannot wait to come back! And JK, MB, and NP- see you on the next cycling trip!