An Insider’s View of Barcelona

The inherent flaw of modern travel writing is its ravenous desire to reduce a place to five bullet points.

Like a malnourished plant trying to survive on five drops of water per day, Barcelona is a miraculous creation of culture and beauty struggling to survive on curt caricatures of five “Barcelona” attractions: sangria, flamenco, tapas, hotels and Gaudí.

Entrance to Park Guell, Barcelona Blog


These caricatures are particularly poisonous because transient  travel writers compose them — they come to the city, pass through its streets with experts, then leave. They return home, browse their notes, then launch their hyper-condensed list of five points which are intended to give the future Barcelona visitor the monolithic must-visit sites.

Monoliths, however, fall short. Barcelona is more than Gaudí, more than hotels, more than tapas, more than flamenco and more than sangria.

Where We Live

The core of our Barcelona Experience team lives in the northern Barcelona district of Sant Andreu. Our neighobrhood is known as La Sagrera or Navas. Our founder Gaston lives on one side of the neighborhood and our copywriter J.R. lives on the other side.

A door with street art on Calle de la Industria. #Barcelona A photo posted by Barcelona Experience: (@bcn_exp) on

  The pulsing, powerful thoroughfare of Avenguida Meridiana cuts through the neighborhood, ferrying Barcelona’s residents to and from a network of small cities beyond the brown-green hills of the Collserola range that mark the western reaches of the city. Our neighborhood is as much a part of Barcelona as the Sagrada Familia, minus the majestic reaches of fairy-tale church towers.

What It’s Like

Old men gather at bars and petanque courts to talk politics and fútbol, two staples your average Barcelonese can hardly live without. They trade stories and opinions with the tenacity of day-traders swapping commodities at lightning speed. Mothers and their children amble along sidewalks, making stops for ice cream and noonday explorations of rainbow-colored jungle gyms popping up out of concrete squares like sugary lollipops. The sounds of these pedestrian scenes arise from the café tables, playgrounds and petanque courts — a humble mix of Spanish and Catalan languages — and weave their way together to offer open-window livings rooms a steady symphony behind the shrill exhaust of mopeds echoing off the facades of apartments lining narrow streets.  

Waiting for the metro at Urquinaona, one of the busy squares in the city center. #Barcelona A photo posted by Barcelona Experience: (@bcn_exp) on

  About midday, these apartments become more than just living spaces. Walk into the buildings in which we live and your senses are hammered with the swift strike of lunchtime aromas, heavy-handed workman hewing renovations of aging flats, elevator doors clacking shut and purse-sized dogs yapping at the sound of feet clambering up stairwells. The smells: fried fish, chicken, tomatoes, garlic and paprika grabbing you and begging you to snatch a spoonful. The repairs: callous-handed workmen busting channels into brick walls to sink decades-old electrical wires whose birth came somewhere between the Spanish Civil War and the fall of Franco’s villainous regime. The sounds: dogs hoping for scraps of cured jamón as they guard their honest flats with spirited yips and yaps.

#terrier #scottie #beach #sand #dogs #vacation #travel #spain #torrelasal   A photo posted by Barcelona Experience: (@bcn_exp) on

  Inside the apartments life is humble when put in contrast with the average American apartment laden with new appliances and solid craftsmanship. Living-room walls are covered in antiquated bookshelf-entertainment centers cut from solid wood and virtually unmovable through human strength.  

Doorway, Placa de la Vila de Gracia. #Barcelona #Gracia #Entrada #martesentrada A photo posted by Barcelona Experience: (@bcn_exp) on

Refrigerators are packed with the necessities: fish, olives, chicken, fresh fruit, bright vegetables, milk, wine and the inevitable sextet of any number of local beers begging to make their debut during a La Liga showdown or a sweltering summer day.

Floors are usually laminate wood bending and bowing in July’s high heat, December’s modest cool and the parade of relatives, pets and wheeled shopping bags.

Come August, neighborhoods fast from their sounds and sights and spectacle. Locals leave the city to enjoy multi-week vacations to other parts of Spain and beyond. Local shops close down. Streets become more quiet.

As the city’s tourist-oriented center becomes bloated with a mish-mash of curious world cultures, it’s outer neighborhoods let out a long sigh of relief.

What We Do on Our Barcelona Blog

We’re not world travelers, even though we’ve traveled the world. We’ve found our home in Barcelona; we love writing about our home. Travel writers stream through our city on a nearly daily basis — we hope they write with accuracy, passion and the deep sense of practicality and idealism which exists in all chambers of Catalonia’s pride-filled heart.

Head to Gracia to meet this Elephant and many more creatures during the Fiestas de Gracia. #Barcelona #fiestasDeGracia

A photo posted by Barcelona Experience: (@bcn_exp) on

But until that day comes, our mission is to provide you with a picture of what it’s like to live in our grand city on a day-to-day basis and what you need to do when you visit Barcelona.

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