A few years ago I could always be heard to say “I could never live anywhere other than London”
This is because in my eyes London has it all; entertainment, incredible parks, The River Thames, fantastic shopping and all the rest… and then I went to Barcelona, a city that says ‘Screw you London, I have a beach‘.
I really felt like I connected with this city, it’s not something I’ve felt anywhere else. Ever since my visit three years ago I’ve dreamed of living out there for a while and taking up Spanish.
To explain why here are my top 5 reasons why I love it so much..
1) It has a beach!
It’s common knowledge that us English love a beach destination, mainly because ours are made up of sharp shingle and 9 times out of 10 a dip in the sea leads to terminal pneumonia. So when I laid eyes on the miles of soft white sand on Barceloneta Beach I couldn’t believe it. I knew the city had a beach but I didn’t expect anything like that, it’s bloody huge!
Scantily clad skater girls were gliding up and down the sea front sporting giant headphones looking like they didn’t have a care in the world. On the last day of my stay I threw on my blades and joined them, I probably didn’t look as graceful as them but it felt amazing to skate in the sun with such a view of the sea. In London I contend with cracked paving, gale force winds and a view of the murky Thames.
It’s not just the beach that attracted me but also the cute ports like Port Olympia that are lined with bars and restaurants, at night it’s so damn romantic. It just seems greedy for a city to have beaches AND ports in such close proximity.
2) The people
Let’s face it, Spaniards are HOT – especially alternative, tattoo’d, pierced, skater Spaniards… oh my. Not to mention pretty friendly, I attempted to converse with everybody in Portuguese completely unaware that they actually speak Catalan instead of Spanish so I may well have been speaking in Norwegian.
One night I tried to direct a taxi driver out of the city to a club in the middle of nowhere. We got so lost we ended up in a ghetto and the car was surrounded by prostitutes. My drunken friend was on the edge of wetting herself begging the driver to stop but he was too worried about letting us out, he was determined to find our destination despite being so lost in translation. Luckily he found us a safe spot to get out and to this day I’m thankful that he took care of us and saved us from being snatched up by pimps.
3) The Gothic Quarter
After a walk down La Rambla - Barcelonas bustling market street, I stumbled into Placa Reial (Reial Square) which is in the city’s Gothic Quarter, so called because some of the buildings still date back to Medieval times…sooo Game of Thrones.
Lunch in Placa Reial
As I wandered the tiny cobbled alleyways it felt like I was lost in the grounds of a castle, every archway lead out into mini courtyards where church bells rang and locals enjoyed their lunch outside cute Spanish delis.
It all looked so beautiful but no photos could do it justice (not with my photography skills anyway.) This is also where my friend showed me alternative cafe/restaurant ‘Hidden Fairy Cafe’ – A fantasy themed grotto where we stopped for lunch, we all know I’m a sucker for weird cafes and this was right up my ally.
4) The architecture
The main attractions are the trippy buildings designed by Gaudi – an architect that must have spent half of his natural born creative life high on hallucinogens (there can be no other explanation for his spectacularly lucid works of art.) The Sagrada Familia reminded me of the Disney Palace, I was half expecting to find Mickey at the door. It’s not the kind of building you’d expect find at the centre of a major city.
I’m actually disappointed I didn’t pay to take a look around, but it’s so detailed I probably would have been in there for the rest of my stay.
The city’s main glamorous shopping complex Las Arenas is in an old bullring…of course it is, it’s Barcelona where nothing is the norm. I took a lift to the top where there are incredible views of the Palau Nacional (A giant palace) and the magic fountain (yeah thats right, its magic!) That’s another thing about Barcelona, there’s no shortage of breath taking viewpoints to admire the skyline, they’re everywhere.
5) The parks
It’s rare to find a European city with some untouched green space that isn’t littered with construction machinery. Barcelona has two of the best parks I’ve ever been to. The legend Gaudi also managed to create an entire park – Park Guell which really blew me away. As you can imagine the place is a total trip filled with more of his mental structures. Unfortunately it’s swamped with tourists and street vendors who are constantly running from the police.
Finding Parc de la Ciutadella was a total accident. I came across it and thought “Whussis?” it turned out to be a beautiful utopia smack bang in the middle of the city. There were parakeets having a sing off in the trees and I came across the grand Cascada fountain which was without a doubt the most beautiful fountain I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’m not sure if it was the lighting or the fact that I was on such a high from the rest of the trip but thats where I decided that I am madly in love with Barcelona.
I totally fell for Barcelona!
Have you been to Barcelona? Did you fall in love with it like I did?