My first encounter with Barcelona began when I was backpacking through Europe. I only stayed for 36 hours in this amazing city. And to appreciate it fully, trust me, you need more than 36 hours.
This time, my second encounter with Barcelona involved the insatiable food scene, the beautiful architecture, and the urban beaches after long days of walking around the medieval backstreets.
This is my declaration of love for this charming Spanish city. 🙂
One of the best things to do when you want to observe the local life in Barcelona is to shop at the various food markets. I made sure that Mercat de la Boqueria was on my list of things to do. This was Barcelona’s most central produce market, where there were many stalls of fresh exotic fruits, vegetables, sea critters, sausages, cheese, and meat on display.
I saw housewives trekking in with their mission to bargain down prices with the local seafood vendors, construction works picking out the fresh jamon to have on their cigarette break, and little kids circling the sweets counter asking their grandparents to buy them another super-sized lollipop. The street scenes just unfolded before my eyes.
For those gelato lovers, this is for you. I found Gocce di Latte, which according to a friend, produced the best gelato in the city. My taste buds absolutely agreed.
For the best ice cream in the city, make sure to head down to Vioko. It was conveniently located near the city beach, many teenagers and kids from the neighbourhood came here to queue and select their favourite flavours, ranging from pina colada to lychee. They also have a great selection of arty chocolate truffles and macaroons. Definitely not to be missed!
After a morning of venturing around the city, lunch was finally served! Cafe Delfin was one of the best paella restaurants I have tried here. The portions were generous and the seafood was very fresh!
One could not leave Barcelona without trying the local specialty – the Catalan bread with tomatoes smeared on top and a dollop of fresh virgin olive oil.
By dinner time, which by the way only started around 8pm in Barcelona, I stopped by El Cangrejo Loco, which means “the Crazy Crab”, a popular seafood spot near the Olympic port. The view of the restaurant in the early sunset towards the yacht lined port created a beautiful backdrop in addition to the delicious seafood feast.
La Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, was only about 15 minutes walk from where I was staying. This was a residential building he created in the early 1900s. To be honest, the design is radical and bizarre even by today’s standards.
During summertime in the evenings, one of the most romantic things to do in Barcelona was to enjoy jazz music on the rooftop of La Pedrera with the beautiful sculpted chimneys lit up by the night lights. Magical.
Park Güell offered one of the best views of Barcelona from the hill top. Which by the way, was a great exercise to burn off all the paella and catalan bread I have been eating. The mosaic tiles were the key highlights of this park. To approach the main square, there were vaults made of local stone which integrated seamlessly into the landscape.
Sun, Beach, and the Ocean
I love the ocean but yet I love living in a city life. I was absolutely convinced that Barcelona couldn’t get any better than this. Near the Barcelona Port, I booked a catamaran trip out into the ocean. This type of sailing trip is popular with sun-seekers, particularly around mid-day when the sun is at its peak. I just loved the feeling of the wind in my hair, and there is nothing else between the ocean and I except the netting I was sitting on.
This was an awesome end to the trip. And as the catamaran sailed closer to the shore, I made a promise to myself that Barcelona will be my third home from home behind New York and London. Besides, it was only 2hr30 from London’s Gatwick airport with ridiculously cheap transport into the city (5.90 euros). Perfect for a long weekend getaway. ❤