It's the city that keeps on giving, unconditionally. Gems to be discovered and enjoyed are scattered generously throughout every street. And speaking of streets, Barcelona is the dream city for people who, like myself, enjoy exploring on foot. The neat, grid-like plan of the city means that with a dash of patience, you could effectively get to most of your destinations.
Till date, I've never heard anyone say that they didn't enjoy their time in Barcelona, or that they ever felt bored. There's so much to do and see, whether you're an explorer, a culture vulture, a foodie, a sports fan (Força Barça!), a shopaholic or a beach bum. Personally, I'm a little bit of everything. Despite visiting twice already, there's still enough reason for me to visit a third time (fingers crossed).
Places to visit and things to do...
Antoni Gaudí's architecture - if you can, you should check all of them out. The ones on the top of my list are La Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, Parc Güell and Palau Güell. Gaudí's eccentric eye and uncontainable imagination have resulted in some of the most beautiful architecture I've ever seen.
Parc De La Ciutadella - perfect for a picnic, especially in the warmer months. It's always bustling with life, making it a great spot to people watch. At one end you're greeted by the majestic Arc De Triomf, and at the other, the Barcelona Zoo.
Neighbourhoods to explore - Las Ramblas is a long stretch of one of the most crowded promenades and is teeming with tourists. Here you'll find everything from markets and art to souvenirs and street food. Do remain alert, because where there are lots of tourists, there are lots of people trying to trick or scam them. I almost had my phone swiped from me here. Another favourite neighbourhood is the Barri Gòtic, also known as the Gothic Quarter. The cobblestoned streets make you feel as though you've stepped back in time, only exaggerated by the many gothic cathedrals. Do make your way to the Basílica Santa Maria del Mar, where you have the opportunity to take a tour on the rooftop and experience a 360º view of the city.
Camp Nou - if you're a football fan, you definitely have to venture to this magnificent stadium and even possibly catch a game.
Castell de Montjuïc - situated at the top of Parc de Montjuïc at 173m above sea level, this fortress today stands as an emblem of Barcelona's struggles through history. It's a magnificent space with a matching view. You can get there by taxi or a bus and then cablecar. For the more daring, you could take a mini hike.
Eat like there's no tomorrow - Barcelona is like Singapore when it comes to food. Meaning that it's almost impossible to find a bad restaurant. Walk into any cafe or tapas bar at any time of day and I'm pretty certain you will not be let down. Two standout places for me were Cervesería Catalana and Pitarra.
Pla de Palau fountain - this might not be on everybody's list, but it was definitely a place that I personally wanted to visit. This is the fountain in which Shakira jumped into for her music video for Loca. You probably know by now that I'm a huge fan of Shakira so I wanted to check this place out firsthand.
Another thing about Barcelona that I wasn't very aware of before visiting the first time was the fact that a surprisingly large number of people spoke only in Catalan. So much for 7 years of learning Spanish. So to end this post I've put together a little list of phrases that I wish someone had given me before I landed in Barcelona. I hope they come in handy!
- Please - Sisplau/Si us plau. (sees-PLOW/see oos PLOW)
- Thank you - Gràcies/Mercès. (GRAH-syuhs/muhr-SEHS)
- I can't speak Catalan well - No parlo bé el català. (noh PAHR-loo BEH uhl kuh-tuH-LAH)
- With soy milk - Amb llet de soja (ahm JHET de SO-jha)
- I don't eat pork. No menjo porc. (noh MEHN-zhoh pohrk)
- The check, please - El compte, si us plau. (ehl KOHMP-teh, see oos plow)
- How much is this? - Quant costa això? (KWAHNT kohs-ta ai-SOH?)
- I love you - T'estimo (tuH-stee-moh)