Barcelona By Sights

Escriba Bakery

Escriba Bakery

As the morning sun rises up over Barcelona, warming the sidewalks along the Passeig de Gràcia, a line of people forms outside Casa Mila in anticipation of its daily opening. Half a block away a street beggar named Dani is positioning himself on the back edge of the sidewalk for the day. Articulate and fluent in English, his deformed body has made him a merchant of the streets, and in exchange for a euro he’ll give you a bright blue marble Pente stone. Thousands of people will walk by him during the course of a day. Few are probably aware that he speaks a tongue other than his native Catalan; some will give him money, most will ignore him as they pass by. I’ve always felt drawn to people like Dani, curious as to how they ended up in their station in life. So I spend a few minutes chatting before moving on, aware that every moment I take up of his time means less money given by others. In exchange for a blue marble, I leave behind three euros.

Storefront display along Passage de Gràcia

Storefront display along Passage de Gràcia

Just around the corner from where Dani sits is home base for our time in Barcelona, Hotel Alma. Beautiful both inside and out, and with exceptionally friendly and helpful staff, it’s one of the best places we’ve stayed at in our travels – period. Two blocks south of the Alma along the Passeig de Gràcia is Casa Battló; a block northeast are two quiet brunch spots hotel staff recommended and where we breakfasted each morning. Through the alley directly across from the hotel and located in a basement of a building is a French bar that came recommended by one of the Alma’s own bartenders. To enter you have to hunch down, bending over so you can pass through two four-foot high doors and down a tiny interior staircase to the bar proper. Dark and cozy, it was the perfect place to cap off our nights with a few drinks before climbing into bed ahead of the next day’s adventures.

A fifteen-minute walk north of the Alma along Carrer de Mallorca is the Sagrada Familia. Twenty minutes south by foot is Barca’s famous La Rambla, with its maze of alleys and side streets that twist, turn, disappear and reappear in innumerable combinations. Midway along La Rambla lies the famous La Boqueria market, a mini-maze itself of food, flowers, spices, and a dizzying array of other delights to feast on, literally and figuratively. A ninety-minute walk north of the Alma is Park Güell and its open vistas of Barcelona and the Mediterranean. While some distance away, it was an absolute pleasure to wander back from it through Barca’s side streets and plazas – lost but not astray in the city’s splendor.

La Rambla

La Rambla

In fact, with the exception of our dining excursions to Tickets and 41 Degrees, as well as coming to and from the airport, we walked everywhere we went in the city; and it was a joy doing so. For a medieval city, Barcelona has wide and inviting streets with beautiful architecture that changes from building to building to building. “It reminds me so much of New Orleans,” Kim said. Whether making our way south along Avinguda Diagonal on our way to Hisop and past shops whose windows showcased female mannequins with over-sized animal heads, or taking an afternoon respite in Plaça Reial to people watch with a cappuccino in hand, I’ve never enjoyed exploring a city so much as I did Barcelona and I cannot wait to return and find new places and spaces to lose myself in all over again.

(Click on a pic to embiggen and view the full gallery. You can also view these photos on our Flickr Photostream.)
Scroll To Top