The mind-bending behemoths of Antoni Gaudi, the street sculptures and stadia of the ’92 Olympics, museums dedicated to genii like Picasso and Joan Miro, beaches full of beautiful bodies bouncing after volleyballs, the chance to nibble on tapas and sip artisan beers in the city’s hip Bohemian barrios… you’re going to have to get up pretty early to make the most of Barcelona – and you’re going to need a good breakfast.
Which brings me nicely to the start of “My Perfect Day in Barcelona”, which I’ve been invited to write by Knok.com as part of their 100 Cities to Home Stay in Before You Die initiative. Feel free to come with me! Now, maybe I’ve been hanging around in continental climes for too long, but I’m all about eating sweets in the morning and nothing hits the spot like some traditional Spanish chocolate and churros (which are basically elongated doughnuts, generously coated in sugar). Barcelona’s xurrerias are some of the most charming spots in the city; many started life in the early-mid 1900s when the city was undergoing it’s “Modernista” renaissance (when the Catalan capital went crazy for the art nouveau aesthetic), and have survived pretty much unchanged to this day. One I particularly like is Granja Viader where the ornate floor tiles, waist-coated staff and genteel crowd evoke the elegance of that bygone era.
Suitably stocked up on calories it’s time to get on our bike, quite literally. Barcelona feels tailor-made to be explored by bicycle, with its many bike lanes, beach boulevards and flat terrain. As I already know the city pretty well I might be tempted to rent a bike and head to a funky district like Poble Sec or Gracia, or to stop for a picnic and game of ping pong at Parc de la Ciutadella. But Barcelona newbies should definitely take a tour with Steel Donkeys who offer alternative bicycle rides around the city (I recently trialed their new El Born tour and discovered secret dining clubs, former brothels, old post houses, hidden beaches and more… ending up at the cult Xampaneria bar for a cheap – but very tasty – glass of Cava and delicious sandwich!). If I was feeling flush, I would then take my two wheels all the way out to El Boo Beach Club for a plate of seafood and a cocktail on their terrace on the pier. It’s right on Marbella beach and no doubt some of my local amigos are playing a game of beach volleyball nearby. A great way to end the day… you’d be welcome to join us of course, or you could go for a swim in the Mediterranean and check out the weird and wonderful hipsters posing and pouting on the sands.
As the sun sets and it gets too dark to play it’s time to crack open a cold cerveza from the street hawkers on the beach and savour the moment in the fading light… but not for too long because we’ll need to grab a siesta and get changed before heading out for the night.
How about we meet at Elisabets at 10pm? It’s one of Barcelona’s best tapas bars and we can pig out on classic dishes like choricitos (miniature sausages) pimientos de Padrón (small greeen peppers… one in five is hot!) morcilla amb confitada de cebollas (blood sausage with braised onions) and of course patatas bravas (potato chunks in spicy sauce).
Afterwards it’s time to go on a whirlwind tour of Barcelona’s bar scene… one of the best streets for this – IMHO – is Joaquim Costa in Raval. Once the home of the vile Vampire of Barcelona it’s now the location of several trendy bars like Betty Fords, Oddland and 33/45, whilst just around the corner is the rather suave Marmalade bar. These days it’s easy to pick up a great craft or artisan beer in BCN so there’s no need to stick to bland mega-brand lagers. After the bars close (around 3am) the fiesta is far from over. There are too many late night options to list here, but safe to say our perfect day shouldn’t end until the last club in the city kicks us out…
Ok that’s about it from me! I’ll be back with another update From The Editor soon with the latest goings-on at UTB. Meanwhile why don’t you check out some of the other Perfect Days that bloggers around the world have been submitting for Knok’s 100 Great Cities to Home Swap…
Or else check out our other Barcelona stories!