This weekend we took a short drive out of this busy city – to the lovely little town of Sitges. Without knowing we got into Carrera – a meeting of old cars. And old not like from 50s, but from the beginning of the century (that is, of the last century :)). This is what I like about this country. There will be always a festivity that you can unexpectedly run into. That feature I still want to write about. This is so Barcelona, and so Catalonia, with all its neighborhood festivals, farmer celebrations, carnivals and other events. Which makes me wonder when these people find time to work :))
Coming back to Barcelona, in the twilight hour, is like coming back to love. At entering the city I see the Olympic ring, the hotel Vela (officially Hotel W, but the locals call it Vela, which means the sail, for its prominent form), the fun-colored Torre Agbar and the Columbus column just before we duck into the tunnel under the city centre. When we come out of it, there are the two skyscraper towers – the famous sign of the Port Olympic. And all those landmarks are appearing like on the skyline pictures of Barcelona. Only Sagrada Familia missing.
If New York is a Big Apple, what is Barcelona? I would go and say it is a Big Strawberry. It is full of flavor, it’s colorful and juicy. Or there is this tasty Spanish word for “raspberry” – frambuesa. La Grande Frambuesa, that sounds good for this city, doesn’t it?
I have spent some time here now, and maybe some of you are wondering why there is no mention of it. I must admit, the longer I stay, the less I feel like mentioning anything 🙂 This city has swallowed me into its emotions, noises, flavors and colors, it has filled me with impressions which I still work on processing.
It is called the Great Enchantress, this city, it is known to have passion. And today I felt like the right color to describe this place would be Red, the color of passion. I have seen it everywhere recently. Even though these images are kind of old, some dating 2 years ago. But they still do the job – so why not? 🙂
My heart is very ready for spring, but the weather is still showing us its black-an-white movie. The winter didn’t think of stepping back and promises a cold week ahead with temperatures down to -15 Celsius (at night). No spring signs so far. I notice that my eyes are hungry for green so I browse Pinterest for tropical themes. My body shifts again, wanting less of heavy winter food and craving for fresh vegetables, so I need to make more green smoothies now. If you are in the same boat of green cravings, let me take you on a walk through one of the parks of Barcelona.
Last year I started a project of presenting the neighborhoods of Barcelona. After two posts my ambitious project went on pause (you can check it out under the tag barrios in this blog). This is so me: so many ideas, but not so much will to follow through. Does it happen to you too?
But – better late than never – I pick up that idea now. Because there are still neighborhoods for which I want to share my love. And today let me present my most hearted one, my secret pearl. In a way, I don’t want to attract too much of attention to it – but since my blog is not read by thousands of travelers (luckily, hehe), I can still share and not be afraid of mass tourism flooding that part of the city 🙂
Why do I love Clot? Because, first, whenever I stay in Barcelona my home is always there. Second, it is old and very authentic, close to the city centre but with totally different vibe. I remember my first visit to Barcelona as a tourist. My friend drew me to the beach, while I was dreaming of walking through narrow streets, looking into cafes, spotting locals and trying to feel the city’s soul. Little did I know then that I would be doing it regularly while visiting Barcelona more often than my home country Ukraine 🙂 And one of the best places to feel that local authentic life, not spoiled by tourist crowds, is Clot. The neighborhood is a mixture of old buildings and new blocks, with locals sitting on the benches of the market square, hanging on the bar terraces, walking with dogs and playing football in the park. This is where I feel the most of how Barcelona was meant to be. Before the mass tourism changed the face of the city.
We happened to come to Barcelona just in the middle of the historical events. But that didn’t happen by chance. My man is Catalan and born in Barcelona, he wanted to come for voting in the referendum. There has been a long process leading to this moment, both for him and for his country.
On Saturday, a day before referendum, we went to Salou, a tourist town close to Tarragona, for the celebration of the wedding anniversary of his friend. Saturday night was spent in eating, laughing and dancing. Sunday morning the alarming reports started to leek in. The police were closing the stations. The government was closing the systems for registrations. But then it became possible to vote in any place. So we searched for a school in Salou and found a crowd of people outside, but the voting was not possible because the system was down. We got directions for another place, but decided to drive back to Barcelona and do it there.
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 🙂
A month ago or more I made a promise on the blog to write about my favorite neighborhoods of Barcelona. And I never forgot that promise 😉 So today I start this little project and I will call it “Ruta de los Barrios”. I have pictures and feelings of some 6-7 neighborhoods (I will use the Spanish word barrio) and I want to share them here. This is not a touristy piece, because I guess, the world is full of “5 top things to see”, “best places to eat”, especially about a city like Barcelona. And besides, I was never interested in writing stuff that is already on guidebooks, even if it looks more popular and bloglovin’ 🙂 What I want to share is my love for streets and local bars, balconies and facades, and sometimes a place where I ate and remembered that. Because I love food – and I love talking about it 🙂 So follow me on my walk, if you have the same passion for exploring the little secrets of a city!