Barcelona: The city of my dreams
January 1, 1970
by Karen Sandoval Becerril
There are some events in our lives that change one forever, those moments that you treasure in your mind. Well, mine was one year ago.
Since I started university, I dreamt about studying abroad in Europe. Specifically, I wanted to study in Paris, but then, after several situations, the opportunity to study in Barcelona for 4 months was in front of me and of course I had to take it. I would have never imagined that a simple decision like that would change my entire life.
Some people are afraid of travelling alone, even if it is just for a few days. I think I´m a rare case because I was dreaming about going abroad by myself, so there I was, in the airport after 13 hours of flying, my baggage was lost, but I was the happiest person ever. Finally, my dream was a reality!
I didn’t know much about Barcelona, other than it was just another city in Spain, but with a beach. At least that was my expectation, but I was so wrong! In the coming months I had the opportunity to get lost and find myself in this amazing city. Barcelona, for me, is a city that has everything, from beautiful beaches to fascinating culture; it is the most cosmopolite place I´ve ever been.
The thing I most like about Barcelona is the fact that each quarter seems like a different place, even a different city. So whatever is your mood you will find your special place in Barcelona. I will mention my 3 favorites ones, so wait for the second part of this article soon.
How to arrive? By bus: Lines 14, 16, 17, 36, 39, 40, 45, 51, 57, 59 y 64.
Metro: Barceloneta y Ciutadella, line 4 (yellow)
Tram: Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica.
This area is most known for the beach, but it´s more than that. Walking straight through “La rambla” you will find the “Monumento a Colón” that welcomes you to this amazing area. Here you can find street art, that you have to check out, my fav: “La cara de Barcelona” by Joan Brossa.
A must for me in this area called, “Las fritas”, a small place that offers french fries with a Belgian style! Honestly, it is the best in this world for me (even more delicious than in Belgium). Where? Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 12, 08003 Barcelona, España.
If you want to have a good time and do some shopping, “Maremagnum” is the best option, located just next to the “Aquarium”. Here you will find a mall that seems like a little island, with good stores and fast food options. Walking a little from here, you can find the “Teleférico de Montjuïc (http://www.telefericodebarcelona.com), with an amazing view, but for me, it´s not a must if you only are staying for a few days. If you are interested in culture, in this area also has the “Museo de Historia de Catalunya” (Cataluña´s history museum). http://www.es.mhcat.cat
Finally, of course, the beach. What could be more perfect than having the opportunity to relax on the beach after a long day? I found Barceloneta to be my special place, where I could go and run at night, or have an amazing time with friends at 2 am on a Wednesday.
Even though this beach is the most touristic one, it’s a place that you will find be able to stay with family or friends at any hour. You can even find some guys walking around in the middle of crowds, whispering “beer, you want some beer?” But this is all part of its special charm.
How to arrive? Metro: Jaume I (yellow line)
Walking through the small streets of this magic place is something that you should definitely do at least once in your life. It really takes you to another time, especially at night and next to the Cathedral, you can find people singing opera acapella, surrounded by other people that stop to admire this spectacular show.
They are so many little shops and places to eat and have some drinks, if you desire. The most special thing to do here in my opinion is to get lost in the streets, which do not have a specific structure and seem like a labyrinth. On these streets, you will find many squares (plaças) where you can sit to relax.
They are so many interesting points in the area and in the center is the most important for me: Plaça de Sant Jaume. This square is bordered by two of Barcelona’s most important buildings, the Casa de la Ciutat (city hall) and the Palau de la Generalitat (Catalan government).
If you are lucky and stay in Barcelona during the last week of September, you will see the Festival of la Mercè, a Catalan traditional celebration that converts the city into an actual festival for a few days. Music, art and culture are everywhere, and for me, the most representative “show” of this festival was to see the Castellers, the human towers, in the middle of Plaça de Sant Jaume.
Some minutes away, is the old Jewish Quarter, the Call Jueu, that has endless narrow streets and some remains of the ancient synagogue.
“El Born / La Ribera”
How to arrive? This is actually in the middle of the last two quarters.
Metro stops: Barceloneta, Urquinaoa & Jaume 1 (yellow line).
My university was located in this quarter, so I really had the opportunity to get to know it a little bit more every day. This corner of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic, with those characteristic narrow streets, but it just far enough away to maintain a local life atmosphere. Nowadays, it is one of the most fashionable places for going out at night for local young people.
This was my favorite place to get lost after classes (and when I said “lost” is literally). There are several stops that you should see here, but I will mention the ones I loved. First is the Santa Caterina Market. Better known as La Boqueria, this market is so unique, from the moment you see the particular outside architecture to going inside to pick up some snacks. From there, on Carrer de la Princessa, please make a stop at “ Mercat Princesa”, a tapas market. I got there by luck and I would recommend it to anyone. After these delicious stops, you’ll find Carrer Montcada, where the famous Picasso Museum is located. It totally worth a visit.
Very close by is the Santa Maria Del Mar Church. It´s a great example of Catalan, gothic architecture and is really beautiful inside. Having passed the church, you’ll come across Passeig del Born; go straight to Carders, 31 and you´ll find “The lime house”, a really small bar that is full of Erasmus students, maybe because of the great music, or the cheap drinks, or both.
Finally, going off this street, is Passeig de Pujades, and is where “Parc de la Ciutadella” is located. It´s an obligated stop and the perfect place to end the day by having a picnic or walking around
I will need more time to share with you all my special places in this magical city, but for now, those are my top 3. Next time you visit Barcelona, please leave that tourist bus and prepare yourself to walk the magical streets of this charming city, Barcelona.