Yet another second attempt success story, Barcelona is a city I would happily visit time and time again (I would even consider living there, it's that good). After forgetting to see the Barcelona Pavilion the first time around (I know, more on that later) a second visit was inevitable.
This visit to Barcelona may have been almost 7 years in the making, yet also somewhat unplanned, when my friend Soph (thanks for the photo Ivory) and I won a weekend away (my family have always said I am lucky... I guess they're right). Our flight from London was a few hours delayed, so it was a whirlwind 32 hours on the ground in BCN, but we managed to cram a lot in!
An archinerd forgetting to visit the Barcelona Pavilion is bad enough, but for one who considers Mies van der Rohe an early inspiration, it's paramount to sacrilege. And for TWO archinerds to forget, well that was the reality of my first trip to Barcelona with my bestie Fairley. Our excuse (not that there really can be one) is that our other archi friends were obsessed with seeing all of the Gaudi and we just got swept up with the group. Needless to say, this oversight was well and truly rectified, and I spent enough time admiring the Barcelona Pavilion to cover the two trips! Ha.
Hope you enjoy my Barca hit list, and please send me your tips as I am planning a return trip next year! L x
If you're the Airbnb type, my pick would be a place in El Born. The vibrant and arty neighbourhood is ideally located between the bustle of Passeig de Gràcia and the relaxing sands of the beach. For those who are looking for a hotel, there are plenty of great options, but I am dying to stay at Casa Bonay. Designed by the Brooklyn based Studio Tack, the 19th Century mansion was restored and converted into a stunning boutique hotel.
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTS
Ok, so obviously you must visit the Barcelona Pavilion, and not make the same mistake as I did! Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Expo as a temporary structure, which was demolished in 1930 before being rebuilt in the 1980s. The pavilion really was all I hoped for, it was truly breathtaking. The lines, the marble, the vistas through; it's just beautiful.
The other must see, is the Sagrada Familia. Whilst it is still not finished, much of the interior scaffolding is down and the space can truly be appreciated. Gaudí was a crazy genius, way ahead of his time - one of the reasons why it's taken so long to complete is that much of what he designed couldn't possibly be constructed at the time! I would highly recommend purchasing tickets online prior, to avoid the queues. Also, the audio guide is surprisingly enjoyable and informative!
For the Gaudí enthusiasts there are many examples of his architecture to be found around the city, but Parc Güell is the one that is really worth seeing. A short journey from the centre of Barcelona, Parc Güell displays Gaudí's creativity, along with one of the best views of the city.
Barceloneta Beach is popular with tourists and locals alike, particularly in the summer. I have a renewed love for the beach and could easily spend hours laying out on the sand here. Find yourself a chiringuito for drinks and snacks, and you're set!
Other than El Born, my other favourite area to explore is the Gothic Quarter. There is so much history in this neighbourhood and getting lost in the narrow meandering can be full of surprises. If you walk by an open courtyard, go inside; you might just be serenaded by some delightful classical guitar!
The Picasso Museum is one for the art lovers. Picasso spent his formative years as an artist living in Barcelona and the museum's collection is focused on this period.
FOOD & DRINK
If you've been reading Lozidaze, you'll know by now that I am a coffee snob. My go to in Barcelona was Satan's Coffee Corner, which served up some delicious coffee. They now also have an outpost in Casa Bonay!
Once you've built up an appetite ogling the Barcelona Pavilion, make your way to Quimet y Quimet, for some of the best tapas you're ever likely to taste. The space is tiny, standing room only, but the food packs a punch.
El Nacional was our saviour when we arrived in Barcelona on our delayed flight. Even for a late night city, it was difficult to find somewhere that could feed us at 1am! This place is HUGE with multiple restaurant and bar offerings within the same space. Go for a meal or just a drink, just go.
Just down the road (Passeig de Gràcia) from El Nacional, is Boca Grande and its bar Boca Chica. A recommendation from my bestie Lucia, Boca Chica is a lot of fun. The cocktails are expensive, but treat yourself to a drink at the bar for the experience and make sure (you have to promise) you visit the bathrooms - mirrored ceiling, photobooth, and all!
La Pepita are the purveyors of possibly the best patatas bravas I have ever eaten (if you know how much potato I eat, you'll realise this is a high compliment indeed). There are no reservations, so go early to put your name on the list.
Our favourite meal was hands down our last meal in Barcelona, at Bar Mut. The menu, based on market produce, is written on boards which are brought over to your table, and the ordering process is more of a conversation with your waiter. Seafood is the order of the day, but make sure you order the egg carpaccio (trust me). And call well ahead to make a booking to avoid disappointment!