Winter is a time many people take trips. Some people head to the slopes and ski their hearts out. While other people seek to escape the cold, rainy (or snowy) days by heading to a tropical oasis. I, on the other hand, enjoy exchanging one urban winter for another.
For years, Spain has been one of my go-to destinations. First it was Barcelona, then Barcelona and Andalucia, after that Madrid, Andalucia and Barcelona, this time, it’s a bit more complicated - Barcelona, Falset in Priorat, Zaragoza, San Sebastian, Rioja, Bilboa and, to round out the Iberian Peninsula, Porto and Lisbon.
Of the places I’ve been, Barcelona is my favorite city. The minute I land and get into the city I feel comfortable. The pace, scale, and overall culture is comfortable. I enjoy Barcelona so much, that all of my close friends know that if they hear I’m leaving San Francisco, it’s because I’ve decided to move to Barcelona. Two of the areas I enjoy the most are the Gothic Quarter and the Born District. These are two of the oldest neighborhoods of Barcelona. Narrow maze like “streets” to navigate, lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. The markets in these neighborhoods are spectacular. The largest, and oldest, one is the Mercat St. Josep. Then there is a newer one in the Born called Mercat de Santa Ceterina. Both of these are filled with vendors selling fresh produce, fish, meats, sweets, anything you could ever imagine.
Two of my go-to restaurants are Cal Pep and Bar del Pla. On this trip I added a third, Pla, the sister restaurant to Bar del Pla. Cal Pep is mostly seafood. I’ve never seen a menu here. The times I’ve gone in the waiters has simply asked a few questions and then sets a menu for the table. Bar del Pla is a more casual tapas restaurant while Pla is a slightly more formal place with modern Spanish food.
Above all else, Barcelona is known for it’s architecture. Specifically, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s work is everywhere, former palaces, apartment buildings, parks, even the sidewalk tiles are designs of his. His largest project is the Sagada Familia, a massive basilica that had been under construction since 1882 with an expected completion date of 2026.
This visit is the shortest I’ve made, but I can still say that I love Barcelona and would still move here in a heartbeat.