My name is Mat, I’m 39yrs old and I live in Southampton. (I moved down here from South of London 20yrs ago and have stayed ever since).
My first trip to Barcelona was for La Noche Vieja (New Year’s Eve) in 2004. It was around this time that the “no frills” airline boom really started to take off (no pun intended), and quite a number of my then work colleagues booked short breaks to Barcelona via Ryanair’s Bournemouth to Girona service.
Tying in with this my family normally had a couple of nights somewhere in the UK or France for NYE, so given the great things my work colleagues said about Barcelona I suggested to the family we went to Barcelona… and that’s where my 10yr (ok, its 11yrs and counting) obsession with Barcelona started.
View from the Museu d’Història de Catalunya
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The bread at La Fabrique in Poble Sec
This month, Poble Sec and I will have enjoyed a full year of blissful cohabitation. One of the reasons I love living in Poble Sec is because it feels so homely and laid back. The streets are narrow and you generally get to know your neighbours in ways you weren’t quite expecting, but with that comes a sense of community, of closeness. Although I must admit to crossing Parallel on occasion, I regularly enjoy spending a whole day without venturing much further afield than the Sant Antoni metro station. So, I wanted to share my perfect day in Poble Sec and Sant Antoni (to which the subtitle could probably be “A day spent eating and drinking in Poble Sec and Sant Antoni”).
My perfect day would be at the weekend – I like the buzz that occurs at weekends. They feel special somehow, like a lesser version of the feeling you get at Christmas. I love cooking so I often like to start my day with a bit of breakfast at home. And if there’s one thing that makes breakfast special, it’s a croissant, or better yet (if I’m feeling really extravagant) a pain aux chocolats aux amandes from La Fabrique (c/ Radas, 35). This bakery is by far my favourite, all their breads are sourdough and organic – and absolutely delicious. Having grown up in France I’m a harsh judge when it comes to croissants and have not quite been able to come to terms with the lard croissants you sometimes find here in Spain. Unsurprisingly perhaps, and a testimony to my tremendous if unknowing bias, one of the owners/bakers is French. Oh là là… Read the rest of this article…
Houses in Carrer Campoamor, Horta-Guinardó
Being born and raised in Barcelona has given me the chance to enjoy this wonderful city in many ways. Now that I live abroad, I still regularly come back to Barcelona, to see my family and friends, to enjoy Barcelona’s culinary and cultural hotspots, and of course, the nice weather and the sun! For my perfect day in Barcelona I’ve made a summary of my favourite places and local spots, which I always enjoy visiting.
My perfect day would begin in Horta, which is the neighbourhood where I grew up and where my family lives. At one of the terraces in Plaça Eivissa I would start my day with a café con leche (a cup of coffee with milk) and some sweet pastry. At Plaça Eivissa there’s also a churrería. Pick a handful of churros and eat them while you discover Horta! Carrer del Tajo is the main shopping street with a local market you cannot miss. A bit further you can discover Carrer d’Aiguafreda, where in the past century clothes from Barcelona’s upper-class members were cleaned. Read the rest of this article…
Barcelona is a city of perfect days. Among all the cities I’ve visited, I consider it to be among the most liveable and lovable metropolises on Earth. Blessed with warm weather more than six months a year, flanked by the ocean and mountains, great nightlife and culture, dozens of parks, loads of good museums, bike lanes, citywide free wi-fi, and a broad variety of people from all over the world, each day in Barcelona is better than the last.
Which makes it hard to pick a ‘Perfect Day in Barcelona,’ but for the purpose of this article, I will try. In this edition of A Perfect Day in Barcelona I will try to illustrate not only Barcelona’s variety—food, culture, nature and wide open spaces—but its infrastructure as well.
Barcelona’s city planners prioritize pedestrians over cars. You can see this with its sidewalks that are as wide—if not wider—than the roads for vehicles, and there are lanes and parking stands for bikes everywhere. A city not so big, you can get everywhere on foot, bike, rollerblade, skateboard, or scooter, if you are so inclined. But should your feet fail you, there is Barcelona’s public transport system with buses, trams, and metros which are well-run and are relatively cheap.
Barcelona is a city that is centred on life. Tired? Here’s a bench to sit on. Thirsty? There are water fountains everywhere. Bored? Just go to any plaça and you will find buskers and performers so talented you wonder why they aren’t on television or on stage. Libraries and parks are open to the public so that people can exercise their body as well as their minds. Dogs are welcome in many establishments, and those that don’t, provide cute little leash hooks outside their doors so that man’s best friend doesn’t wander away. Read the rest of this article…
“Fantasy comes from ghosts. Fantasy is the people of the North.
We are concrete. The ideal is from the Mediterranean.
Orestes knows where he is going, while Hamlet wanders lost in doubt.”
“La fantasia ve dels fantasmes. La fantasia és de la gent del Nord.
Nosaltres som concrets. La imatge és de la Mediterrània.
Orestes sap on va, mentre que Hamlet divaga perdut entre dubtes.”
– Antonio Gaudí
I’m not an urban planner or an architect or even a philosopher. I can’t claim to know exactly why one city feels like an overwhelming mess and the next is as well-balanced as BARCELONA. But after 10 years here (living in 7 of her neighborhoods) I recognise that there are a few elements which I believe make her as close to perfection as a city could hope to be. Here they are in a 24 hour experience on any given Summer’s day in BARCELONA. Read the rest of this article…