I fell in love this past weekend. Less than 24 hours into our first encounter and I was already scouring the internet for a new job and apartment. There was something about Barcelona that made me want to give up everything I’ve worked so hard for in New York and start over, right then and there.
Despite the fact that it’s something like the 16th most visited city in the world, I still don’t think Barcelona gets enough love. That’s probably because usually when I hear of people jetting off to Europe they’re talking about Paris, London, or some place in Germany. Or maybe it’s just me who’s been left in the dark about such an incredible city for so long.
But after spending the past nine weeks traveling around Europe—London, Newbury, Iceland, Amsterdam, Dublin (2x), Paris—I was getting a bit worn down by the grey skies, wind, and the freezing cold temperatures. And to be honest I was craving a change from city life. In came Barcelona, like a tall, dark, handsome Spanish knight in shining armor. Or something; I never was big on fairytales.
Right when I stepped off the bus in Plaça de Catalunya I could smell the sea. Honestly it was probably coming from one of the many restaurants along the street, but I imagined that the humid air was carrying the scent of saltwater along with that slight chill. It was 1130PM but the streets were alive with people, lights, and color, and children were still out playing football under the streetlights. And despite my fears of pickpockets gone wild, I never felt unsafe nor did I notice any suspicious behavior.
To me, it’s the perfect mix of city, mountains, and beaches. Kind of like all the things I love about Northern and Southern California combined to make a big awesome city with incredibly unique architecture, more Spanish people, and more history. Plus, even though it was a city and I hate driving, it felt like the kind of place where I could comfortably own a car (although I’m sure it’s unaffordable and hard to find parking). And I’m getting older, I should be thinking about settling down and owning something other than a laptop and a camera soon, right?
With more posts to come, I just couldn’t wait to declare my newfound love. So in a nutshell, here are some things I love about Barcelona, in no particular order:
- Let’s start with the obvious, the architecture. I didn’t think I was going to take much of a liking to Gaudi’s work, but to see it in person was truly breathtaking. Plus looking up at the green mountains to see cathedrals towering over the city, especially at night when they’re lit up to appear as though they’re floating in the air is magical.
- Barcelona spans across roughly 39 square miles, with just over 1.62 million people living there. But despite it being a major city, I always felt like there was enough space to live comfortably (except on La Rambla, but that’s the same with any tourist hot spot). Most of the intersections are large, there’s plenty of room to walk down the sidewalk, and when you need to get away from the streets the beaches are literally right there. Granted it was only about 60 degrees so I’m sure it’s a much different scene when the temperature rises.
- The sangria. Middle of the day, with dinner, or in the evening, glass after glass after glass just keeps coming. It’s like fruit juice, but for adults.
- Mercat de La Boqueria. Seriously. I’m not really in markets all that much (probably because I’m always broke). I usually enjoy them them, but I don’t go out of my way to visit one. But this one is just different, and possibly the best variety in a market that I’ve ever stepped foot in. It’s just ashame that I got there right as they were closing up.
- There are tons of insanely attractive people. Again, I can’t back up this statement 100% due to the amount of sangria I consumed, but I’m sure it’s a safe assumption.
- The beaches. It was still not quite beach weather so they were fairly empty and super clean, in fact much nicer than I’d expected, but literally right on the edge of town. I spent both Saturday and Sunday evenings relaxing there after a long day of walking.
- The views. When you’re not gawking at one of Gaudi’s masterpieces or the turquoise Mediterranean, there’s a whole new way to look at things from a quick trip up one of the hills.
- The smiling lobster. Because come on, how many cities have a giant smiling lobster on display?
Have you ever been to Barcelona? What do you love about it? I can hardly wait to plan another (longer) trip back!