March 2019


Barcelona, other things…

Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

Barcelona seems like, at first glance, a very nice city to explore – and worthy of returning.

However, it has quite the reputation for pickpockets and other petty theft. My first morning in Barcelona, I stopped by a nearby café, whose waiter informed me that Barcelona had the best pickpockets in the world, better than those in Brazil (where he was from) or London (where he had lived for many years). Then, after getting back to Berlin, I was in a shop, whose owner I chat with regularly, and she informed me about the awesomeness (if that’s the right word) of Barcelona’s thieves – who stole a bag from between the feet of a friend.

Thankfully, I did not get to experience any of this first hand, only through word of mouth.

Basically I had two days on the ground in Barcelona, with my first day devoted to, first, a withlocals “Kickstart Tour with a Local” – ~90 minutes – followed by an hour long wander, then a two hour lunch with a friend, followed by a 4 hour wander through the city, which included finding where my Great Aunt drew her picture.

Basically, Friday was exhausting. By the time I returned to my hotel room, at about 8:30 or 9pm, I was dead.

That said, the Kickstart Tour with a Local was good: my local was an Italian expat who got me oriented to some of the key historic sites around the city center. Given that I had arrived in Barcelona only knowing where my hotel was, where our meeting point was (and even that I got wrong), and where I was meeting the friend before lunch, any information was great.

This was a well spent 32,50€ – I was woefully unprepared for my trip – because after it was over, I had found La Ramblas, seen the state capital, drank an excellent hot chocolate, visited a church, and, most awesomely, seen the Born Cultural Center, which shows off old streets from the 1700s.

El Born CCM

Then, after an hour-long walk along the beach, with its excellent eye candy, I met up with my friend for paella and more walking – somewhat aimlessly, but not really: the weather while I was there was outstanding: the kind of weather where people flood the beaches, enjoy the sunshine, and are generally outdoors. This was all leading up to the point where we found where my Great Aunt drawn her picture.

Barcelona Beach

All of this colored my Saturday: despite going to bed relatively early, I still had an obscenely early wakeup call: I’d booked 08:30 tickets for Casa Batlló, designed by Antoni Gaudí. Despite having an unlimited public transit ticket, I opted to walk there – a pleasant 30-minute walk from my hotel, I then spent about 45 minutes exploring the house. Unfortunately, I was there during renovation, so I could not see the façade and some of the interior spaces were blocked by workers. It was still fun – and I was happy that I paid extra for the 08:30 tickets.

Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló

Thereafter, I was hungry, so I looked on the map and found a brunch restaurant nearby – Brunch & Cake – it had good reviews online and, when I got there, a queue of about 10 people waiting for tables. Since I was willing to sit outside and to share, I ended up at a table with a young couple from Los Angeles – they were both struggling with jetlag and on some kind of European adventure. A few minutes later we were joined by a Londoner living in Istanbul.

I ended up being grateful for her arrival because that prompted the couple to say, “We’re going to London Tuesday! What do you suggest we do?”

By now you (along with the Londoner and I) have made the same wrong assumption, which is to say, that after 4 or 5 days in Barcelona, they were moving onward to London for their next stop.

“We’re going there for the day.”

WTF: flying from Barcelona to London, spending the day, then returning back on a flight in the evening. While this is possible, I’d only recommend it to seasoned tourists who want to do one or two things there – say like me wanting to go see one exhibition in Paris (although, in that case, I did end up spending one night there).

Cascada in Parc de la Ciutadella

Anyhow, after this, I wandered the city a bit, did some reading, then took a long, sincere, nap before spending an hour or two wandering the city again.

Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona

Barcelona seems livable and quite nice – I want to return.

1 comment to Barcelona, other things…

  • Mateo

    I just finally read this post. Looks like a lovely place to visit, except for the pickpockets. I’ve always wanted to go there.