Welcome to the first Sobremundos’ post! When I first came to Barcelona, one of my objectives was to start a blog about travel tips. I arrived January. Fourteen months agot. That’s procrastination.
Now, the ramble is over. I decided to start with an easy subject that explain things from the start.
Why have I come to live in Barcelona? Because I fell in love with it! After almost a year calling it home, I have concluded that this is going to be a story of everlasting love. That’s why I would like to share the 10 reasons why I have chosen Barna as my place in the world.
1. Beach and Mountain:
Seeing the sea everyday has some kind of boosting effect. Not only you feel that nature is closer, but also the Mediterranean blue works as a great stimulus for a morning run or a beach volley game on a Sunday (or surfing, sailing, kayaking…just pick one)!
The Barceloneta, one of the nearest beaches to the city center (and the most touristic) is a gathering place from morning to dawn. Apart from enjoying the sun and the sea, there is a great offer of restaurants, bars and some of the main nightclubs.
On the other hand, do you know when you are so tired of city noise and pollution, and you feel the need for some fresh air? Barcelona allows you to go on great daily trips to the mountains, and you can enjoy then even if you got only a couple days here.
One of the most popular is the Carretera de les Aïgues, a trail that goes around Serra de Collserola and offers beautiful sights of Barcelona. Within 30 miles from the city center, there is the uncommon landscape of Montserrat, one of the most emblematic mountains in Catalonia. If you want to go even further, you will find Montseny, a place that also stands out for its groves and rivers.
Barcelona has Mediterranean climate! Here the days are usually quite pleasant, combined with bright sun and blue sky. It is perfect to enjoy every season. Speaking of that, the temperature varies very little along the year. I would say that summer is a bit like a sauna, winter is crisp rather than chilly and the six months in between are absolute perfection. August is the hottest month, with several days overcoming 85 °F, while January is the coldest, when most days are below 50 °F. It is just enough to justify changing outfits and a cup of hot chocolate with xurros.
Barcelona is on a strategical position for cureless travelers. Everything is even more alluring because of low-cost airlines, such as Vueling. To arrive in any capital of central Europe, it won’t take you longer than three hours. To cross the Mediterranean Sea and jump to Africa, it takes less than two hours. What about the Americas? Around 500 years ago, we have learned how easy it is to cross the pound.
4. Transport Network
Here in Barcelona, I have used a car maybe five times along the year. That considering that I have moved twice and that I have come and gone to the airport at least ten times.
Public transport counts with lots of bus lines, subway, trains, streetcars and even cableways. Furthermore, there are bikeways spread all over the city, they are well indicated, and cyclists are respected by drivers. My tip for going everywhere is the Citymapper app, which indicates even where the shared bikes stations are and the best wagon on the subway in each trip.
5. Cultural options
If you live in Barcelona, having a TV is (almost) a waste. There are tons of museums, expositions, guided tours, cinemas, concerts, music halls, etc. Amongst the museums, I would highlight CCCB, that hosts mainly contemporaneous and multimedia expositions. Also, Picasso Museum and Joan Miró Foundation: both were created by the artists themselves with the purpose of making their pieces always available to the public.
Is Catalan an obstacle to whom comes to live here or to visit Barcelona? Not at all! Here you will find every info signs in Catalan, Spanish and English. Moreover, having its own language makes the regional culture even richer. It is a romance language, such as Portuguese and Spanish, but it has its own origin. In the years of Franco’s dictatorship, speaking Catalan was forbidden and there were even book smugglers, in order to keep the language alive.
Besides language, Catalonian folklore is very particular. My favorite one is Saint George’s Day. On April 23rd, people exchange books and red roses with their loved ones, including family and friends. Later, that day was adopted as the Book Day all over the world.
There is no Halloween over here. The same day they celebrate Castanyada by eating roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets, a kind of almond cookie. The most popular character in Christmas is not Santa but caga-tió, a tree trunk that ehm… shits the gifts. The traditional “sport” is also very interesting: castellers or human castles, that can rise almost 50 feet tall. Those are only a few of their many traditions!
Catalonian people in general eats lots of vegetables, fruits and fish, what is known as the famous Mediterranean diet. Besides that, they really appreciate organic products, but not the ones you can buy on your local Whole Foods Market. What they really cherish is going to their hometown (the smallest the better) and bringing fruits, hams, eggs or marmalades. This simplicity is also seen in some of the stars of their cuisine: pa amb tomàquet consists on smearing a tomato against a slice of bread, and topping it with Spanish ham and cheese. The calçot is an onion relative, and they gather with friends to eat it, like in a barbecue (a vegetarian barbecue!!). For dessert, you can choose between xurros, a fried batter dipped into a cup of thick hot chocolate, or crema catalana, allegedly the original recipe the French copied as crème brulée.
Coming from a country with 500 years of “written” History, I can’t help being impressed by a city founded by Romans on the 1st century BC. There is even a legend that the founder was Hercules. On the following centuries, Barcelona was part of the Visigoth Empire, followed by a short Muslim domination until becoming Count City on 9th century.
Within places like Santa Maria del Mar Basilica, you can almost feel the heaviness of History in the air. The stone blocks on the walls were carried on the shoulders of the dock workers that built this church, more than 700 years ago.
10. Unique architecture
I finish my list with one of the most important features for Barcelona’s singularity: the Catalan modernist architecture and a genius named Antoni Gaudí. Spread all over the city, you can spot the shapes and colors of these nature-inspired buildings. The most popular are Casa Batlló, Parc Güell and Sagrada Familia, all of them Gaudí’s masterpieces. Many other architects have developed that style, including
Lluís Domènech i Montaner, designer of the Palau de la Música Catalana and of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
These are (shortly) my favorite things about Barcelona. I hope to tell you much more about it on the next posts. Are you also in love with Barcelona? So why don’t you leave a comment telling me why?