Hello, and welcome to our next stop of Ruta de los Barrios, our tour of neighborhoods of Barcelona. Let me present to you Vila de Gràcia (I learnt to call it Gracia), one of my most favorite neighborhoods in this city. Gràcia has it all: the young and hipster vibe, plenty of bars and restaurants, small funky shops, and the atmosphere that makes you linger with your drink on its square watching the life walking by. Gràcia looks like a little village of itself, having nothing to do with the famous city, and its narrow streets remind me of towns in my beloved Andalusia. And that is no wonder because Gràcia used to be its own village, like many neighborhoods in this city, which was later integrated into big Barcelona with the central part of L’Eixample. And it used to be full of gypsies, so that makes it even more like Andalusia to me 🙂
In Gràcia you feel the charm of a little place, and you forget for a moment that the big city with its huge avenues is bustling just at the borders of this neighborhood (Gràcia starts just in the end of Passeig de Gràcia, the fashionable shopping street stretching from Plaza Catalunya). But Gràcia is full of life too, as there are locals mixed with tourists everywhere in the narrow streets. Gràcia is famous for its numerous plazas which make a great place to sit on a terrace and eat tapas. There are several of them, I didn’t count but I come up with 5-6, and my favorites are Plaza del Sol and Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia with a tower in the middle of it.
I have come to Gràcia several times, I laughed and cried on its streets, and I danced in its dance school and bars. My favorite story from this barrio is when I was doing the salsa summer camp with Norwegians, and our classes were in Gracia. After classes we girls would go for a dinner and share tapas and stories. Once we were lucky to get a table in a restaurant on Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia (I must warn you, in summer it is not easy), and after a good meal we were discussing if we want to share a desert, that would be tiramisu. “I wonder how big their deserts are!”, we said. So I asked a waiter, in my proud amateur Spanish: “What is the size of your deserts?”. The waiter, a handsome mulatto, answered immediately without blinking: “XXL”. The girls were giggling, and only I was too slow to comprehend the situation. It was explained to me later that I had used the word “talle” which literally means “size in clothing”. Sweet memories… 😉
What are the good things to do in Gràcia? I would take you on a walk on Carrer de Verdi which is full of tiny shops and life, get lost in the narrow streets and visit all the squares. And there is a specialty that you will find only in Gràcia when in Barcelona. Its name is piadina and it looks like a French crepe (Google says it is Italian bread), that you can get with different fillings. I remember I got one with mushrooms and cheese, and it was so good. Piadina is a street food, which is perfect to take away and enjoy it while sitting on the stairs of Plaza del Sol.
If I were to rent a flat in Barcelona, I would definitely choose Gràcia. I love its authentic atmosphere and a small town charm. And if I were a student, I would live and hang out only in Gràcia, feeling like I belong and looking down on the central parts full of mass tourism and souvenir shops 🙂 The only thing Gràcia lacks is the short walk to the sea. You have to take subway to go to the beach. But I would definitely forget that sorrow discovering a new café every day and a new bar every night 😉
Anyone here who has special feelings for some neighborhoods in any city you came across? That would be a nice collection of stories to hear of them!