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)
On my first visit to Granada, I proudly proclaimed that "the city definitely warrants a second visit". A year later while touring Spain, I proved myself right. As often happens after you discover something great, when you experience it again and again, it seems to lose it's charm - it's never as good as the first time. An experiential desensitisation, if you will. However, it's definitely not so with Granada. Other than the 40 degree temperature difference from my previous visit, everything else was the same. The same ease of life lingered in the air, seducing you with every breath. The same levels of awe for what has remained from it's explosive history, juxtaposed with the repose of modernity.
When you're under the Andalusian sun, surrounded by so many gems waiting to be discovered, with Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, there is almost nothing that could make you feel any sort of tension. It's as if life itself in Granada is rose-tinted. I think it's now safe to say that it's one of my favourite cities to travel to and I look forward to these future visits. In the meantime, here are some snapshots from my brief return to a most magical place.
Wearing: Mango - Shirt // Acne Studios - Trousers // Gloria Ortiz - Hat // Bershka - Sneakers
It's an absolute thrill when you find a piece of vintage clothing that fits oh so perfectly in your closet. There's something a little romantic about it, no? It's almost as if this item, manufactured decades ago, was predestined to eventually end up in your hands. Yes, I'm aware of how filmi I sound... Clearly I watch too many Bollywood movies.
Back to my point - I want to share a mini guide of my favourite vintage finds and where in London I picked them up from.
This particular trench coat that I'm wearing in this set of photos was found a few months ago at one of Mile End Vintage's pound sales. As the name suggests, nothing is over a pound (£). Yes, that's right - £1. It's a damn steal for a garment in such perfect condition. I've seen commercial vintage retailers sell clothes in far worse condition for upwards of £20. Stay clear of those places, folks. Although you do have to manoeuvre quite a bit through a sea of clothes during the special sales, it's totally worth it when you find pieces like these.
Also located in Mile End is 2nd Time Around, where I found this vintage Burberry leather jacket, probably made in the late 1800s as it carries the "Burberrys" logo. More than clothes, they have a very interesting collection of furniture that many of you could appreciate. This magnificent fur coat from the 1930s was purchased from D. & A. Abrahams - an exquisite antique store with an inexpensive curation of items. How I managed to stop myself from buying everything off their racks, shelves and walls is a mystery to me. And finally, every tourist's favourite - Brick Lane Market. There I managed to find this casual pair of sunglasses and this gorgeous cat-eyed pair. Are you in love yet?
Photo assistance - Trishna
Wearing: Zara - Sweater // Cos - Trousers // Michael Kors - Sneakers // Vintage - Trench coat
As an illusory spring teases London with deceptively sun-drenched afternoons, it's only natural for me to yearn for those sultry days spent in the south of Spain last summer - wandering in earnest, trying different foods everyday and not having to worry about a vitamin D deficiency. It was an admittedly rushed trip and we found ourselves hopping from city to city like a butterfly with a voracious appetite. Seville was one of the places where I wish we could have spent more time in, not only to truly delve into its rich history but to explore its urban marvels as well. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be visiting again... but until then, here's a visual recollection of Sevilla.
“Let there be no scales to weigh your un-known treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.”
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Last spring, I drove down south with Melody to visit this breathtaking place - the Seven Sisters cliffs. Best two and a half hour drive ever. If you're ever traveling to London, you should definitely think about seeing the chalk cliffs.
Being surrounded by nature as far as the eye can see, with little trace of human presence, is without a doubt one of the most incredible sensations I've ever felt. We were really lucky that it was a quiet day and we got the entire beach to ourselves. It's exciting and makes your heart flutter, but at the same time instills tranquility in your soul. It's a reminder that harmony exists in this universe. It's a reminder that I am a small, ephemeral fixture on this land. And even smaller are my problems.
Looking out into the sea, I realise that it has no beginning, no end. Boundless. Despite the chaos of crashes and sprays of salt, it is inherently serene. Each flowing body of water is somehow connected to one another, and they connect the rest of the world. Like the unfathomable depth of the oceans, the potential each and every one of us hold inside ourselves knows no bounds.
Whatever we seek without, can be unearthed within.
Shot at Seven Sisters Country Park, Sussex.