It might be the end of January, but my January blues are putting up a fight. In an attempt to shift them, I’ve been making plans for the upcoming year that include teaching in Italy, writing in Berlin and living the nightlife in Istanbul. And I cannot wait. But a dissertation deadline means that it won’t be until June that I can finally pack my suitcase again. Until then, I can only reminisce on last years adventures, the last of which found me and two of my best girls in the beautiful and vibrant city of Barcelona…
Barcelona thrives at Christmas time. The famous Shopping Line is decked with lights and the popularity of the city as a tourist destination even at is time of year means that there is an intoxicating atmosphere of excitement. Whether you are fan of innovative architecture or a just love a look around the high street, Barcelona is a city that has something to do for everyone, and its connections with famous artists mean that there is always something beautiful to see. I spent five days in Barcelona, living in a newly renovated apartment (which I would highly recommend) set in the famous Gothic quarter of the city, close to la Cathedral Barri Gotic Barcelona. The cathedral is magnificent both inside and out, and is well worth a look if you are in the area.
Another stunning example of the architecture that Barcelona has to offer is Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia. Again beautiful both inside and out, La Sagrada Familia stands tall over the city as a powerful religious icon. Gaudi’s work is further seen along the Shopping Line and in the beautiful Park Guell, which offers stunning panoramic views of Barcelona from its highest points. Street performers in the park add to the inspiring atmosphere created by the park, and showcase some of Barcelona’s best hidden entertainment for free.
For those who love their art on a smaller scale, the Picasso museum, set in the gothic quarter provides an insight into the artist’s work and study, and entrance is completely free on Sundays between the hours of 3-5pm. Just across from the museum is Palau Dalmases, a romantic venue where you can immerse yourself in Spanish culture with a live show of impressive Flamenco, and the most delicious sangria! Be sure to check out the gorgeous little open roof courtyard, perfect for a cosy evening for two. (Valentines day is just around the corner…)
Of course, no trip to Spain is complete without tasting fresh paella, and there is a whole host of restaurants that offer paellas with a choice of ingredients. I was new to the dish, and so tentatively ordered a paella made with seasonal vegetables. My paella arrived hot, fresh, and fit to burst with peppers, onion and courgette, and it was absolutely delicious. I am proud to say that I finished the entire thing, which is no small feat considering each paella could easily feed a family a four…
One food experience to another, churros are also a must when visiting Spain. A word of caution, however-ensure that wherever you sample your churros prepares them fresh, the difference is unbelievable! I would highly recommend Valor, a cute little churro cafe and chocolatier, who not only prepare churros fresh for every order, but who provide a cup of their delicious molten chocolate for dipping. Be sure to sample some of the chocolate bars they sell too-flavours include American Brownie!! If churros are not your cup of chocolate (ahem, puns!) never fear-Amorino serve the most delicately arranged ice cream in a range of rich and intoxicating flavours, my favourite combination consisting of pistachio, cinnamon, and caramel.
I spent my final day in Barcelona in true and unashamed tourist fashion. I shopped my way up and down the Shopping Line until my little arms could carry no more. The sheer choice and availability of stores is incredible, believe me when I say there is a h&m on every corner! Among the recognisable high street stores are also all the biggest brands in high fashion, so if you plan to shop in Barca, make sure you take euros to spare. The final evening found me and my girlies in the Hard Rock Cafe where we had cocktails, fajitas and a whopping slice of oreo cheesecake while admiring enjoying music by the likes of Coldplay, the Killers and Deelite and admiring the ‘hermosa‘ Spanish waiter. From flamenco dancing beauties to gun toting law enforcement, if nothing else, Ill be back in Barcelona soon for its men. 10/10.