In my mind, there was always a city filled with sun drenched streets, the smell of good coffee when you waltz past one cafe, tasty pastrami filling the window of the next cafe, and tables on the pavement topped with large glasses of local beers, iced gin and tonics and deep, dark glasses of sangria outside the next. The buildings are different colours where although vibrant, they are soft which blends and compliments the pavements perfectly. As it turns out, I was right all along, there is such a city.
Tall buildings with cast iron railings on the balconies, most overloaded with tall plants but the occasional little table and chair there to soak up the rays when the sun hits it, and often enough a bike or two precariously balanced on the little space above the streets. Whilst apartments like these lined the streets, palm trees and men selling cheap but thirst quenching beers lined Barceloneta, 4 kilometres of sandy coast line, always busy with people enjoying the sun, sand, sea, outdoor gym, and the long flat prom which was ideal for everyone riding longboards, bikes, rollerblades; and the rest of us that were happy to just stroll along and take it all in. The other wonder of the city, as well as having the beach and the street life, is that you also have mountains to trek up and into, a place to distance yourself from the hustle and bustle in only a couple of metro stops and a little walk to a park that happens to be the starting point for a big old hike into a completely different scene, a place that boasts city wide views all the way to the to the sea on one side and more hills and mountains on the other. Beautiful.
5 whole days in a city like this was just what we had needed; a break, some sun, no agenda and lots of good food and drink. On the first morning, we woke up early and went for a run. Now, running isn’t my strongest suit, but it felt good to get out and going first thing. What a place to run through as well, we hit a trail that took us up, up, up to the top of Park Güell. The view from the top was glorious, and wonderfully tourist free at 7am! The day continued with movements of cafe after cafe, strolling streets preparing for Dia de San Jordi (St. George’s day). The tradition is that the men buy the women a rose and she buys him a book. A curious thing to do, but the story goes that San Jordi was originally book day and the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and when that was over ruled to the become the day that St. George slayed the dragon, the day dedicated to literature was almost forgotten. To save the legacy, the women now buy a book for the men in their lives, and they are given roses as a memoir of the knight saving the princess.
For the most part of our time out there in the sun, we walked to and from as many places as we could, helpfully encouraged and tracked by a recent fitbit purchase that was delighted to tell us that we racked up over 100km in distance overall! The Spanish, I came to find, have a very refreshing al fresco lifestyle; something that has been neglected in the UK for much too long. There is so much activity inspired, from leisurely sitting outside for food or drinks, to motoring hard in an outdoor gym, it’s a social city where meeting people and making friends is what you want to be doing, it’s a good vibe you don’t want to miss out on. We met some of the coolest people, with great taste in drinks (and pizza), and the most interesting stories to spend the evening telling.
It’s safe to say that I would be back in a heartbeat, this is a city that I recommend a visit to even if just for a weekend. Whatever you may be looking for, it’s on offer here; culture, history, art, fitness,fun, relaxation, and romance.
Who else has been, and what was the best part for you?
¡Hasta Luego, Barça!