I just came back from a 3-day-trip to Barcelona and luckily I got to do most of the things I had planned to do before. After flying out of Cologne on Thursday evening, I arrived at Barcelona El Prat Airport around midnight. The airport bus still runs every 10 minutes at that time, so getting to the center was easy and quick.
I stayed at Casa Gràcia a hotel/hostel at the northern end of Passeig de Gràcia and at the southern end of the Gràcia neighborhood and district. Casa Gràcia was the perfect choice for me: affordable (60€/night), close to public transport (Metro Diagonal) and with sights and great food options in walking distance. Casa Gràcia itself has a restaurant/bar on the ground floor where I ate on two evenings and both times the food, drinks and service were superb.
On Friday I picked up a coffee and a donut at Syra Coffee and strolled through Gràcia for a while. I had fallen in love with this neighborhood with its small town charm last time I was in Barcelona. Later on I walked down Passeig de Gràcia to the Palau de la Music Catalana to see Jaume Plensas sculpture “Carmela”. Jaume Plensa is an artist from Barcelona and I came across is sculptures a few times before (eg. in NYC and New Orleans). My favorite artwork of his is the Crown Fountain in Millenium Park in Chicago.
For lunch I stopped by Federal Café, an Australian-style café with locations in Madrid, Valencia, Girona and two in Barcelona. I visited the Barcelona location at Passage de la Paz in Barri Gòtic and loved the café just as much as I loved the one in Madrid in May.
In the afternoon I visited Encants Flea Market – one of the oldest flea markets in Europe. It is outdoors but under a newly built structure and therefore shielded from the rain. It has two floors and while the upper floor was mostly cheap underwear/electronics/bags and stuff like that, the ground floor had everything you’d expect from a flea market: old books, paintings, furniture, jewelery, dolls, picture frames, and all kinds of knickknacks.
Afterwards I walked over to the up-and-coming neighborhood Poblenou and stopped for a coffee at the very cool and very instagrammable art gallery/ concept store/ coffee shop “Espai Joliu” on Carrer de Badajoz 95. In the evening I strolled through El Born, a neighborhood between Barri Gotic and the Ciutadella Park which I – despite its central location – had never been to during previous trips. It’s absolutely charming with lots of cafés, restaurants and shops in its narrow streets and a bit less crowded and touristy than the Barri Gotic. The El Born Cultural Center in the old Mercat del Born building shows archaeological remains and its worth a visit, admission is free.
On Saturday I picked up a coffee at Onna Coffe, right around the corner from Casa Gracia and made my way through the Eixample neighborhood to Ugot Bruncherie for breakfast. This is just the cutest café; with vintage furniture and flamingo wallpaper. The food was also really good, so I can highly recommend this place! From there it was just a short walk to Plaça d’Espanya and the CaixaForum. I wasn’t interested in the exhibits and movies this time but I wanted to see the building itself (it’s in a former factory) and the outside art work by made out of 6.000 plastic bottles. It is part of a 3 piece installation called “Navidad en RE! – Christmas in Re! REuse REduce”, the other two parts can be seen at the CaixaForum in Madrid and Zaragoza. More information is here.
My next stop was the old bullfight arena at Plaça d’Espanya that is now turned into a shopping mall. The mall is pretty boring in my opinion but there’s an elevator that takes you up to the observation deck on top of it. The view from up there is quite nice but not spectacular because it’s just not high enough. But since the elevator costs only 1€ it’s worth a short visit.
Afterwards I visited Tibidabo, a 520 meter high mountain in the back of the city that offers the most spectacular view. Furthermore the journey to the top alone is worth the trip: first you’ll take the metro line 7 to Plaza John F Kennedy/ Avenida Tibidabo, then an old blue tram “Tramvia Blau” uphill and then the Tibidabo Funicular to the very top. While riding up the mountain you’ll already get a glimpse of the amazing view over the city to the sea and it’s so beautiful!
On top of Tibidabo is a church, an observatory and the amusement park, one of the oldest in the world. It’s mostly for kids but I enjoyed riding the Ferris wheel and the Talaia, and seeing the old carousels with the whole city as a backdrop. I highly recommend going there, it’s such a unique experience.
On my last day I had the perfect breakfast at Trópico in Raval (closest metro station is Drassanes – my favourite station in Barcelona). Pancakes, great coffee and a watermelon- coconut juice – I was in breakfast heaven. I took the metro over to Poblenou and the Palo Alto Market. It’s a monthly (bi-monthly in December) design and street food market in an old factory. The factory is gorgeous with and leaves covering the old walls and lots of gardens around. The food stands are situated outside while most of the designer stands are inside and there’s also live music and DJs. They’re open until 11 pm, I guess it’ll be nice to go there in the evening to hang out, sample food from all over the world and have a few drinks while listening to a local band.
I couldn’t stay long enough to enjoy it fully because time was running out and I wanted to go for a walk along the promenade from Port Olympic and Gehrys gold-fish to Barceloneta before I leave. Being at the beach in winter is such an unusual experience for me so I didn’t want to miss out on that. Barceloneta is so much fun, especially on a Sunday afternoon when all the locals come to hang out, go for a walk, bike ride, skate, surf and walk their dogs. I would’ve loved to stay all day but I had a plane to catch in the late afternoon.
To get back to the airport I took the metro instead of the bus. The El Prat airport has a metro connection since beginning of the year and it’s just as convenient as the airport bus but a bit cheaper (4,10 € insted of 5,50 €).