Barcelona feels like the city that got away – and needs another chance.
Luxury Retreats commissioned me to share my first impressions of visiting, and what I’d fit on a second visit whilst staying in their vacation rentals in Barcelona. (All of these images are theirs, all of the memories are mine.)
We spent a long weekend exploring the undulating architecture of Gaudi, nibbling pintxos and soaking in the sunshine. Hours were spent admiring the incredible Sagrada Familia arches, we meandered along the city beaches and rode the funicular up into the misty peaks of Montserrat.
Did we get to see it all? I don’t think so.
It is one of the cities I have regrets about – there were experiences we missed, places we ran out of time to discover and a few things that I would do all over again.. Travel shouldn’t be about box ticking – and a series of fateful roadsigns seem to be pointing me back to Barcelona to delve underneath the surface of this vibrant Spanish city.
AGAIN: Spending another afternoon at the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
Gaudi created/modified some of the most amazing buildings, using nature as a basis for everything he designed. The Sagrada Familia was his masterpiece and still not finished nearly 100 years after his death, even though he spent the last 12 years of his life exclusively working on it.
NEW: Twilight cocktails on the balcony of Casa Batllo.
Sipping something cheeky, whilst the sun dips below the horizon and the sound of the evening strikes up. One of the experiences that we missed out on was one such evening; complete with a gallery exhibition and a live quartet who played all kinds of music, floating down to the quiet streets below.
AGAIN: Lunch on the terraces of Park Guell
Taking a picnic up the steps, admiring the views over the city below before breaking out the local cheeses, sausages and freshly baked breads. I can feel the cool air now, and almost hear the hubbub of fellow tourists stopping for a 30-second selfie. We would spend a leisurely few hours walking away from the city streets, simply wandering. This time I’d take a few cheesy Instagram shots along with more artsy ones (but I can’t pretend that I wouldn’t take more of Mr Kiwi snoozing in the sunshine.
NEW: Explore Montjuïc
From magic fountains that light up at twilight, to the proliferation of palaces that make up this regal hill; I would love to linger around sunset, watching the sky turn inky and the local bars light up with a cosy, inviting glow. History, beauty and cool bear on tap, just perfect for weary tourists. Sorry, travellers.
AGAIN: Experience the sublime glory of the Montserrat Cathedral Choir
Their angelic voices raised up towards the heavens, singing ancient harmonies that shimmer around the vaulted ceilings. It raised the goosebumps on my arms, and gave us all a little look into why they still worship here high up in this mountain clime. Oh, and buy more of the liquer that the monks have brewed with local herbs for generations.
NEW: La Barceloneta
Locals head to the seaside neighbourhood of La Barceloneta to surf and sunbathe on Sant Sebastià Beach, and to dine out at al fresco seafood restaurants and traditional tapas bars. Yachts fill marinas like the Port Olímpic complex, which is connected to the beach by a long, palm-lined promenade and the Port Cable Car offers panoramic city views on its way to Montjuïc hill.
Whenever travelling, we like to try a variety of local and tourist delicacies. Spain when exploring it a few years ago was no exception. My best ever, ever tip is to have a list of the things you want to try, and if you can, try and avoid the tourist traps as you normally get ripped off and eat bland rubbish food. For that, we snuck off the tourist rat race and tried bars filled with chattering locals. In fact it was so local that we were dependant on our Spanish…
NOW: Try some of the new amazing Barcelona restaurants
With a veritable sky of Michelin stars, there are a range of places that intrigue my palette; Tickets by Ferran Adrià, Enoteca by Paco Pérez and of course Roca Moo by the Roca Brothers as well as local markets and bakeries that sell homemade delicacies.
Do you have destinations that you would like to revisit?
A native man sang in a foreign tongue,
I still ache to know the song that he sung,
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