When you are not born and raised Catalan, there are two ways to do downtown Barcelona: the tourist way and the nomad way. Two very different crowds that rub shoulders in the crowded streets. Sometimes wearing one hat or the other depending on who they are hanging with.
I have a lot of love for Barcelona. From my very first weekend there, with a group of friends, many moons ago, to a very needed vacation when I moved back to Europe, to my first vacation with a long-term boyfriend, to going to meet the one that always slips through my fingers for a lovely romantic weekend… It has always been synonym of being surrounded by people I love, in the most exciting of lifestyles: in the streets, late at night.
2017 Downtown Barcelona
When I found out that the year two of the 7in7 conference was happening in Barcelona, it felt like a sign. I was surrounded by my people, the nomads, and I was also meeting up with a Barcelona newbie. A chance to wear both hats when you’re in town, can’t miss that.
We found a great apartment in the Eixample neighborhood, while most of our conferences were located between Poble Sec and El Born. I had not had a chance before to hang in the latest and it was almost love at first sight. It’s placing up in my “list” just below El Raval.
Apparently, I just can’t get enough of the tiny streets and dark corners. When all the tourists are packed-up in the Barrio Gotico and Passeig de Gracia, being able to enjoy the beautiful city without knocking elbows has its charm.
On being a tourist in downtown Barcelona
However, before living like a local and roaming around town with my fellow nomads, I felt an urge to be a tourist for 24 hours. John’s presence was the perfect excuse for me to play hooky and take him to my favorite super touristic spots.
The Sagrada Família is still monumental and a breath-taker for anyone who has never witness this architectural deviance. I love it. Be aware that if you want to visit it, you now need to book your (expensive) ticket a few days ahead of time. Gone is the time where you could just decide to go there on a whim and get your fix of Gaudi.
So be it, we decided to jump in a cab and go hang in Parc Güell instead. To my utter surprise, the scenario repeated itself: not only you need a ticket to get in the heart of the park, but you’d better get your ticket ahead of time too… There might be no line, but that’s because there is no ticket left… There’s still the possibility to walk around the outskirts of the park and get a bit of connexion with nature. Just don’t expect too much out of it.
In the end, I might have been a little disappointed with my “tourist experience”. I wish I were able to better showcase the divine elements that make the rich architectural history of this town. It did feel like navigating an amusement park without and that’s certainly not the fond memory I had of the town.
In 2017, Barcelona downtown might be better saved for nomadic experiences, living and working there, sitting in cafés, eating pinchos and drinking craft beer (not tapas and sangria). I’m not sure how the current political turmoil might impact this statement, so I’m glad that I was able to do it one more time.