By Lauren Barker

She has soul, this old girl, and an easy way of getting under the skin. Her streets are a smudge of colour, her heartbeat erratic. Everywhere, there is life. From the old barflies in the taverns to the nippers on the beach, the pursuit of pleasure steers the way.

The city centre pulses with bodies and cars and bikes; the air is thick with the smells of fried fish, calamari and blistered sausages. The streets are a maze. Alleys wind from city to sea, where the sand is awash with breasts and bronzed bumcheeks. In summer, the cloak of heat is suffocating. Sweat finds its way into the most intriguing of places, trickling down the backs of your knees and between those travel-induced stomach rolls.

Barcelona is addictive; it’s a buzzing playground of bars, museums, shops, parks and beaches. It would take a lifetime to dig under every layer, to see it all. And so we keep coming back, chipping away at the city’s heart, trying to understand it all.


La Sagrada Familia is quintessential Barcelona – its eccentricity, its daring, its disregard for time. Gaudi’s Roman Catholic church is an evolving masterpiece, due to be finished around 2025, maybe later… Its spires shoot up towards the heavens as queues snake around its belly. Venture inside for a peek into the unconventional architect’s mind. Park Güell is another not-to-be-missed Gaudi offering. Explore the Catalan’s enchanting jumble of sculptures, buildings and tile mosaics, and be rewarded with an absolutely priceless view of Barcelona.

When the belly needs sating, take a wrong turn and you’ll find hundreds of hidden haunts dotted across the city. Can Paixano on Carrer de la Reina Cristina is bursting with bodies on sultry summer afternoons, its regulars lured in by the divine rose cava (sparkling wine). You must eat to drink here, but it isn’t a problem when things like jamón sandwiches are on the menu.

For those who’d rather save their Euros and DIY, the food markets of La Boqueria are a must. You’ll find all sorts here, from fishmongers and butchers to egg sellers and candy makers. Afterwards take a right and stroll down the tourist haven of La Rambla, where massive department stores rub shoulders with tiny boutiques. Just be wary of over-priced goods.

Barcelona’s Metro system makes getting around easy, but keep in mind that services Sunday to Thursday usually finish around midnight. (If you’re forced to walk home, you can always find company in late-night churros oozing with custard or chocolate.)

Barcelona is a magnetic metropolis that will have you pining long after your plane has left the Spanish soil. Effervescent and upbeat, it’s a city worth returning to again and again and again. And again.

One Response to “Barcelona”
  1. Carol says:

    Brilliant article – and my travel juices drool to visit!

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