There are so many sides to Barcelona, which is perhaps true of many coastal towns. My favorite part of the city is its walkability, and how quickly you find yourself in wildly different places. The small streets and neighborhoods of La Barceloneta are no exception as they suddenly spill onto beaches and hotels, with palm trees and clean, crisp lines. Staring at the sea, I found myself wishing I’d spent more time in the parks and gardens of Montjuic, and was happy to see a cable car extending from the beaches to the hillside across the bay.
Montjuic is full of beautiful gardens and quite greens spaces, and houses a castle and numerous museums. It’s located on a steep hillside with views of the city from one side and the ocean from another.
The next morning, I headed to Park Guell, another busy place that’s worth the crowds to see. There are colorful mosaics and beautiful gardens all around.
Under the beauty of art and gardens and architecture, though, there are stories not advertised in travel brochures, and I think it’s important not to just skim over the surface of a place when you travel, no matter how short the trip may be. After the park, I walked through the Gracia neighborhood, full of small independent shops and boutiques that remind me of South Park back home. This strikes me as a truer heart to the city, and from the windows and balconies of many homes, you’ll see the Catalan flag flying, a reminder of the ongoing movement for Catalonia’s independence.
Last but not least, I stopped by La Boqueria, a busy market full of fresh produce, butcheries, and small restaurants- basically food heaven. I’m only sorry that a small travel budget kept me from staying there all day, but of the things I did sample, spicy olives and dragonfruit definitely top the list. I wish I’d had more time there, but I have a strong feeling that I’ll be back.