The hidden streets of Barcelona
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The hidden streets of Barcelona

Barcelona stole my heart during a flash visit. And I wanted to stay forever. I didn’t know then that I was going to live there for 5 months a year later. How great was that! For me, Barcelona had everything a city could offer.

And it didn’t take long before Barcelona had won my heart. This city offers everything I love, especially during a holiday. Plenty of culture. Friendly people. Nice food. And a great climate. But don’t forget all the beautiful shops. Or the beach. Perfect holiday material. This is why I chose Barcelona when I decided to leave Holland for a few months.

Being a tourist in Barcelona

The first few weeks I loved all the tourist attractions. I went to the Sagrada Família. Walked around Park Güell. And wandered around La Rambla. It was during the third week that I decided to join a tour around the city. A free tour around the city! I needed to save all the money I could, so I could spend more on the great food and drinks there. The guide showed us the less touristy side of Barcelona. I liked this Barcelona even better!

Off road, looking for the hidden streets

So I decided to go ‘off road’ during the rest of my stay. No more tourist traps for me. I wanted to meet the Catalans and find the hidden streets. I loved the tiny streets around La Rambla. And I kept discovering more and more beautiful places. Luckily the hop-on hop-off busses hadn’t found these yet!

Discovering the ‘other’ Barcelona

And so did the places where I drank and ate change too. Together with my boyfriend and all the new people we had met, we visited authentic Catalan restaurants. My favourite stop for a yummy pastry or breakfast was Cup & Cake. Because there was more than one branch, there would always be a cupcake when I needed one. I also ate in a great tapas place on the Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís. Where there were only three tables. And in the same road I would have a drink in the hidden garden of the Antic Teatre bar. A simple bar amongst ordinary houses. But making you feel like you belonged there. Or I would go to Woki Organic Market, an organic restaurant just around the corner from my apartment. You can also buy all the ingredients to replicate these great dishes at home. My favourite spot for tapas was Bar del Pi. Here they serve tapas on a tiny terrace, on an small square in a busy shopping area. And if I was in a hip mood, I would go to Vinitus on 333 Consell de Cent. Great tapas! Don’t go there too late, unless you don’t mind queuing. After dinner I would go to the El Born quarter. Visiting any bar and ordering a drink to take out, so I could enjoy watching people go by.

From infatuation to real love

The great thing about Barcelona is that it is so close to the beach. It is practically adjacent to the centre of town. If you want to visit a nice but quiet beach, walk past Barceloneta beach and enjoy the more peaceful beaches further along. Or visit Parc de la Ciutadella for a relaxing afternoon. For some tasty snacks for our picnics in the park I would go to the lesser known indoor market ‘Mercat de Santa Caterina’, situated on the Avinguda de Francesc Cambó.

All I wanted to do was to just be in a city. Experience the city like someone who has always lived there. Barcelona has two sides. The extraordinary works of Gaudí, visited by hordes of tourists. Or the beautiful quarters where Catalans are living their normal lives. During my first visit I fell in love with the touristy side. But I truly love the Catalan Barcelona.