I couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to do some travel writing than working in Barcelona for a week. It’s always a little strange to be visiting a place you’ve lived in for a while years later, and I love it – the little things like automatically heading in the right direction from the terminal, not checking twice before getting on the tube, knowing all the bus stop by heart, in Catalan and in Spanish). Going to Barcelona did feel like coming back home.
Having booked a hotel in the heart of Barcelona, only a short walk from Placa Catalunya, I dropped off my luggage and went back out to enjoy the sunshine. Within my first 20 minutes of leaving the hotel, I knew I was in Spain because a) I got asked out by a middle-aged man half my height, b) I got asked for directions by some tourists, and c) I got a (not very classy) piropo. Not something that happens to me much in the UK.
The first place I wanted to visit was Gracia, one of my favourite areas of Barcelona. As it’s not mentioned on the first page of every tourist guidebook, it feels like a completely different world in comparison to the other zones of Barcelona.
It’s got that village-like atmosphere, the leftover from the time when it was an independent village, sunny squares with coffee and ice cream shops, little boutiques with unique clothes you won’t find in Zara, and bars.
There is that one particular bar I discovered when living in Spain two years ago, Le Journal. The décor of the place makes you want to stay there for hours, and they do pretty good mojitos.
Also Gracia is where I first tried coffee with condensed milk and for those 15 blissful minutes I was in heaven.