I first visited Barcelona about 12 years ago with my then boyfriend. We went to all the tourist spots over a long weekend in July, so needless to say it was extremely busy. This time I wanted to do it differently. I flew out there at the end of January to stay with my friend Claire, who I met whilst travelling in Australia last year. I had no plan, I’ve already done all the tourist stuff, so all I wanted to do was relax, explore and feel like I belonged there for a few days.
I do seem to have a knack of fitting in wherever I am. To most strangers I think I appear to look like I know where I’m going, even if I have no idea! People always ask me for directions, and this trip was no different. Within half an hour of arriving in Plaça de Catalunya, with my cabin bag in tow, a man with a map in hand very optimistically asked me something in Spanish. I had to apologise in English and he went on his way!
I spent the next few days walking the backstreets around La Rambla where Claire lives. It was great to stay in such a central location. I would walk along a street and then at the end decide whether to go left or right. I got utterly lost, but loved discovering tiny little vintage shops and cafes, hidden street art and the places where people actually live.
I ran along the seafront on a windy and rainy morning, following one runner and then another. I seemed to be able to go for miles, stopping only to take photos and check where I was. I stumbled upon some fantastic street art on the wall that surrounds the city zoo and stood to admire it for a while.
My 12km run felt a lot easier than it usually would with so many interesting things to look at! It certainly helped me work up an appetite, perfect for an evening of tapas and wine at one of the busiest restaurants I’ve ever been to.
People queue out the door for a table at Cervecería Catalana. We shuffled in and luckily two British men were just leaving the bar area, so we quickly grabbed their seats and sat at the bar for the evening. We shared a bottle of Rioja and a variety of delicious dishes of mushrooms, asparagus, avocado and so much cheese! We’re both vegetarians, which I remember being tricky the last time I came to Barcelona, but now it seems there’s been an explosion of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. This isn’t one of them, but we had more than enough to choose from, and seeing it all beautifully laid out along the bar made it even easier to decide.
On Saturday we walked across town to a bustling flea market. This was a place where you really could buy anything! I enjoyed the chaos of it all and meandered up and down the aisles soaking up the atmosphere and looking on with utter confusion at some of the items for sale. I managed to find a couple of bargains that would fit in my tiny hand luggage and parted with a grand total of €5!
On my last afternoon we took the bus up to the Bunkers and, with a few cans of cider and some snacks, watched the sun go down over the city. It was a gorgeous evening, but pretty cold and windy up on the hill! In spite of that, it was buzzing with young people up there from all over the world. We walked back down, ate some more tapas and went to sing karaoke at an Irish bar – because what could be more mediterranean?!