“My perfect day is inspired by a First World problem, if ever there was one. I apologise in advance if I sound ungrateful, (and I’m really not) but Barcelona sometimes just has a little bit too much going on. For instance, I’d love to try more of the tapas bars, drinking dens and restaurants, old and new, that I hear about, but I don’t want to end up looking like Jabba the Hut on the beach every weekend. When I’m on the beach, nibbling on some watermelon, I still feel guilty – because I’m lying in the sun and not, say, checking out an exhibition that I know is about to finish. I’m not really tugging on any heart-strings, I know, but if we’re talking about a perfect day, and since those rarely happen, then I’d fill mine with low-key indulgence and guilty pleasures.
Santa María del Mar
For maximum clarity of conscience, this day would take place in October, when my bikini has been safely packed away for another year. It would fall just after payday, and would be enjoyed with a like-minded, undemanding visitor, such as my sister.
We’d start off with a bit of late breakfast and a look through the paper at the most unpretentious café in the world – Bar Mendizábal, across the street from me (c/ Junta de Comerç, 2) – then would wander over to the Gótico to begin our assault on the off-high street shops. We’d coo over the lovely accessories and separates at Le Fortune on Avinyó, then swoop onto El Born, the richest hunting ground of all. We might get little a taste of the spine-tingling Gothic interior of Santa Maria del Mar, and remind ourselves of what we can enjoy on a day with a more cerebral bent. (And we can try to spot the FC Barcelona logo in one of its stained windows, too.) Read the rest of this article…
Arc de Triomf
“I have had many perfect days in Barcelona and inevitably they involve three things… sunshine, beach and friends.
For me, there are actually two types of perfect Barcelona days, one involves the discovery of another hidden treasure in the city that I didn’t know. The other is to introduce my friends to this magical city that I love.
My perfect day starts with a morning run to the Arc de Triomf along its avenue lined with palm trees and beautiful wrought iron lamps then on through the green oasis of Parc de la Ciutadella. At 10am, it is time for friends and breakfast, cafe con leche and a pain au chocolat (ok, maybe they are french, but they are still good here and France is just around the corner). And a freshly squeezed zumo de naranja (orange juice).
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Bar Pinotxo, La Boqueria
What is a sobremesa?
Sobremesa is one of my favorite Spanish words, but it’s much more than a word, it’s a cultural act. In Spain people take their meals very seriously, hours can be spent at the dinner or lunch table chatting long after the plates have been cleared and the coffee has been served. It’s a time to bond with your guests, savor the moment without rushing and pragmatically, to digest your food. Overall it’s a wonderful and celebrated practice throughout Spain.
“I write about food, take pictures of food, think about food, turn every conversation into some topic of food, so it comes as no surprise when I’m in Barcelona, one of the food capitals of the world, I chow down. What I love about Catalan cuisine and the food culture of Barcelona is its determination to provide fresh, flavorful combinations to the masses at reasonable prices and with a slice of humility. Sure some have received Michelin stars, or can show off hundreds of press accolades adorned on the wall, but besides this, many continue to do what they set out to do decades ago. Setting an example for new chefs and young talent to follow in role-model fashion. Catalans have a very concrete culinary identity and I think this confidence shines through in their creations, meanwhile the patron walks away with a smile and without having this experience leave a whole in their wallet. Read the rest of this article…
Baluard, c/ Baluard, 38-40
“My perfect day in Barcelona would begin with a sunrise walk on the beach. It’s so lovely and peaceful before the crowds arrive. Then I’d take a walk through Barceloneta Park and to the Baluard bakery (c/ Baluard, 38-40) for some fresh bread and breakfast pastries. There’s always a tempting range on offer here and the big challenge is trying to choose between all the different cakes and bread. Baluard bread is the best in the city, with people coming from all over to buy it, so I’m thrilled to have the bakery so close to where I live.
As soon as I’ve digested my breakfast, I’d go for a Turkish bath at Aire de Barcelona (Passeig de Picasso, 22). There’s nothing quite like submerging yourself in varying degrees of hot water and getting an exfoliating massage to set you up for the day ahead. Read the rest of this article…
La Mercè 2011 programme cover
La Mercè starts today! Barcelona’s very own annual festival that celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè in Catalan. The feast day is on Saturday but in true Catalan style the festivities kick off a couple of days beforehand.
From the Mercè 2011 programme…
Modernity, tradition, gunpowder, street theatre, circus, dance, music… Just mix them all together, stir, and you have the festive cocktail that is being served up in Barcelona these days. For the city is celebrating the feast of its patron saint, La Mercè, a compendium of Mediterranean festivities, authentic Catalan traditions and the talent of artists from all over the world. No one interested in plumbing the very soul of Barcelona and Catalonia can afford to miss this festival, whose special guest this year is the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.
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