One of the things that really struck me as beautiful was the juxtaposition of the old town buildings on the small streets and the colourful touches, particularly in the street art and graffiti that covered the closed shutters and abandoned sites. Even words just scrawled onto walls took on a really striking appearance against the worn brickwork of the buildings. Barcelona’s seeming aesthetic of mixing old with new is something I’m incredibly attracted to, and although the architecture and big time views were astounding I found myself drawn to the more unusual flairs of creativity throughout the city. I absolutely loved Barcelona as it felt like such a creative and culturally appealing place to live or visit, and despite there being a language barrier at times, most of the people we encountered were very friendly and welcoming.
Also in the Gothic Quarter is Barcelona Cathedral, at the centre of a maze of small cobbled streets. Although we didn’t get to go inside thanks to me having my legs out (hey, it was hot…), walking around the outside was still pretty breathtaking. The original building was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, with further work done in the 19th century including amazingly intricate neo-Gothic detailing. I’m not a religious person myself, but I really appreciate the effort and craftsmanship behind stunning religious buildings, and especially thinking about them being built before the modern tools we have today makes them all the more impressive.
Unusually for me(!), I didn’t actually do a lot of shopping when I was there, but if that’s what you’re after there are lots of lovely little boutiques around the old town where you can discover quirky and unique clothing finds. One of the absolute coolest places we stumbled across was Flamingos Club. On first glance, it’s a pretty awesome vintage ‘kilo sale’ style shop, with plenty of denim, prints and super-fabulous gear on offer. However, if you wander through to the back you find yourself in a bar which opens late into the night with fun neon lighting and plenty of Jagermeister. Shopping and partying in one place? I’m definitely sold.
The hostel we stayed in was the Guesthouse Barcelona Gotic, where we had a private double room with our own bathroom, and a balcony with this beautiful view. Getting up in the morning, I just had to stand on the balcony for a bit and take in the feeling of being at the heart of such a vibrant area. The room itself was incredibly basic and pretty small, with two single beds pushed together instead of a double. If you’re looking for something a bit more plush for a romantic getaway, I wouldn’t recommend it – but for a place to throw your bags and lay your head down after exploring the city, the location couldn’t be more perfect.
For young (or young at heart) travellers, Barcelona is a fantastic city to pay a visit to. There’s absolutely loads going on, whether you’re after culture, unusual tourist activities (more on those to come) or a food and drink experience. We were only there for two and a bit days, but I felt like we saw and did so much in that time. Everything is incredibly easy to get to, and although the streets do all look pretty similar we didn’t get TOO lost (travel tip – either take a business card from your hotel or take a snap on your phone of the street its on – if you get lost, show someone working in a shop or bar the card or picture to help with language issues of getting directions). I’d definitely go there again, I feel like we crammed so much into our time there but there’s still so much more to see – and the atmosphere in Barcelona, particularly the Gothic Quarter, is just incredible. Plus, it’s pretty cheap too – definitely a must-visit city!