“I have had many perfect days in Barcelona and inevitably they involve three things… sunshine, beach and friends.
For me, there are actually two types of perfect Barcelona days, one involves the discovery of another hidden treasure in the city that I didn’t know. The other is to introduce my friends to this magical city that I love.
My perfect day starts with a morning run to the Arc de Triomf along its avenue lined with palm trees and beautiful wrought iron lamps then on through the green oasis of Parc de Ciutadella. At 10am, it is time for friends and breakfast, cafe con leche and a pain au chocolat (ok, maybe they are french, but they are still good here and France is just around the corner). And a freshly squeezed zumo de naranja (orange juice).
Because the perfect Barcelona day has clear blue skies and sunshine and I am a child of the mar (sea), the first real stop for the day, is early afternoon at a playa, probably Bogatell. When I first arrived to Barcelona, I was in awe of the beaches, not because they are beautiful and clean and deserted like so many in Australia but because they have chiringuitos, caprioskas and DJ’s. How much fun!
It is very easy to pass the afternoon at the beach. Especially with friends who are not used to having music and cocktails at the beach. I like to swim to the buoy and back just because there isn’t the ever-present threat of tiburones (sharks) that there are in Australia.
After a couple of hours at the beach, I reluctantly drag my friends away to wander along the water front, past the iconic Frank Gehry ‘El Peix’, The Golden Fish, my glittering icon of Barcelona, to Barceloneta and through the little laneways that were once the fishing barrio. Next stop is ‘crazy cava bar’ (my name for it), officially it is the Can Paixano (c/ Reina Cristina, 7), where a copa de cava is 95c. It isn’t flash (at all) but it is authentic and rustic and rough and you earn your copa, first by actually getting in through all the people, then getting someone to serve you (they may or may not yell at you!). Once you have it, you then have the challenge to be able to drink it without getting it knocked out of your hand while simultaneously juggling the obligatory plate of queso and jamon.
After Cava Bar, we wander up to the church Santa María del Mar in the heart of El Borne. For me, it is my soul of Barcelona and a place full of peace with a magical tranquility and light and space which belies its heavy stone walls. I love to just sit still in here and absorb the calm ambience that emanates within.
Then there is short stroll up to Via Laietana, across to Carrer de Jaume I, into Plaça Sant Jaume and under the Barcelona ‘Bridge of Sighs’ (c/ Bisbe), to find the first of two little Barcelona treats. First, my wonderland, ‘La Basilica Galeria’ (c/ Sant Sever, 7), a fantastic jewellery shop full of eclectic and beautiful pieces from around the world. Then around the corner to ‘secret square’ (my name again, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri), a favourite tiny plaça, with a damaged history visible in the gunshot holes in the walls, but where luxury Hotel Neri has tables under the jacaranda tree which are perfect to sit under to enjoy a clara (the catalan shandy).
Of course, then it is siesta time. (Not optional, but essential, when trying to survive a spanish day!).
Following which, it is tapas time! However, just before tapas is a great time to go to one of the many roof top terraces in the city for a pre dinner cocktail and admire a spectacular view of the city as dusk sets to night. Maybe at Majestic Hotel, maybe at Pau Claris, maybe at Grand Hotel Central, maybe at Hotel Duquesa de Cardona.
I have tried many, many tapas taverns, I keep returning (along with a lot of others) to Cervecería Catalana, (c/ Mallorca, 236), for the best tapas in Barcelona. I have a theory (that I have tested!) that you can eat there every day for a week and not need to eat the same thing twice… there is that much tapas to choose from. It is busy, it is always tasty, the sangria has fuerza (strength- be warned) and it is always worth the inevitable wait.
Then it is out to where ever the Barcelona night goddess may lead you, wherever her flickering lights may tempt you, wherever the little streets or wide avenues may guide you… wherever they take you they will, inevitably, leave you in the same place, under her enchanting spell… maybe even besotted…”
Sarah first came to Barcelona for a long weekend in June 2006. She returned every summer after, growing more besotted with the city with every visit. She eventually left Australia last year to move here. After a life of being in the travel industry, she is relishing sitting still in Barcelona, creating local events and tours and sharing her passion for the city at Barcelona Besotted.
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