21 Days in Barcelona
The Soundtrack of the trip!
This classic Bon Jovi song became the soundtrack and greeting song by my life-long friend Gabo Tiburón. Him and his fiancée Benita were hosting us, and every time Marcy and I came home, our greeting line started pretty much like this: "OMG guess what happened to Mayra today!". Soundtrack, touché. Does this cover photo say a bit about it? I almost got arrested for getting the shot. I'll get to that later!
After many years from my first visiting to Barcelona I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in this amazing city, and to my surprise, meet many friends living and others casually visiting during the same dates. This was getting interesting! So... here are the highlights of my trip and my recommendations. I can't believe I'll be back in a month.
Flyer of the event at El Medi, Barcelona, where I performed along with Carreyó.
1. My first (official) singing show overseas.
I had the chance to officially perform some of my music live, along with my dear friend and singer-songwriter as well, Carreyó. The date was at the cozy bar El Medi, which receives hundreds of artists for live performances the have on a weekly basis. It couldn't have been a better gig with friends and family! Gabo, Benita, Nina Leon, Marc Forma and to all the Panamanian's and locals who came over to see us perform and meet us: thank you!
Live show at Bar El Medi, Barcelona. Photos: Gabo Tiburón.
2. A Sunset Walk to The Bunkers de Carmel.
We set out for for a steep climb uphill, in search of one of the most gorgeous city views and arrived just in time to watch an amazing sunset. The cherry on top was a surprise arrival by Hilany S, who was hoping to find us at the top because she had no way to communicate. We accidentally bumped into each other and she showed up: with champagne! yeap! cheers to that sunset in the ultimate outdoors chill spot in the city.
Due to its strategic location, the 260 metre tall and 360 degrees perspective mount was a perfect location for gun machinery used to defend the city from aerial attacks during the civil war 1936 -1939. The concrete structures remained, becoming the site popular over its amazing views.
Recommendation: You might want to plan a picnic and keep in mind there are no facilities up there. It's accessible by metro. I recommend Alfons X station which will leave you closer to the bottom of El Turó de la Rovira where the path up starts. Be prepared for a 30 mins aprox. of walk up hill.
A sunset view from the top of the Bunkers.
3. Walk abouts: Parc de la Ciutadella, The Gothic Quarters, El Born, Las Ramblas and Raval.
Barcelona is definitely a city for walking or biking around!
Upon my arrival to Barcelona, Gigi Libre was the first one to receive me at her home, along with Lourdes (to who I´m grateful for her hospitality too). and Oscar (a very peculiar cat). She was quick to spot out awesome places to check out and always had a plan or something to show around. During our first days we did a lot of walking to places like:
‣ Parc de la Ciutadella
Built in the late XIX century, this public park gathers a vast vegetation variety and centenary trees, along with interesting sculptures. A worth-while walk where you may also see touristic attractions on the way tho the park such as el Arco del Triunfo.
‣ The Gothic Quarters
Get lost in the Gothic Quarters, admiring old roman village buildings mixed with more modern architecture. The Cathedral is a beautiful highlight with narrow, labyrinth-like roads leading to her. You can find many "plazas", restaurants and bars, along your walking routes and lots of commercial activity going on.
‣ "Las Ramblas" and "El Raval"
One of the most visited places in the heart of the city is The Ramblas, a mostly-pedestrian walk of aprox. 1.2 kilometers with attractions of all types for visitors. It has the Gothic Quarters on one side and El Raval on the other side. At the very beginning of The Ramblas (north), you can find the beautfiul Plaza of Catalunya where I caught up with Dj Glenn González to chill for some tapas at the end of the walk. You may also enjoy some night life and bars (I do suggest going to deeper side of El Raval with a local or to a specific place you know instead of walking around), like when I met my Louran S, a knowing beer lover friend who took me partying that night to hear some live music into the guts of El Raval. Cheers babe!
‣ El Born
This area is next to Gothic Quarters, and you could walk across it the same day. Interesting views in their street will get you absorbed, along with many small boutiques where you can find pretty much anything you are looking for, plus restaurants, bars and an active night life. It is also close to Parc de la Ciutadella.
Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona.
Arco del Triunfo. Photo by Gigi Libre.
View of the Cathedral Church at the Gothic Quarters.
Views of El Born neighborhood.
4. Gaudí's Masterpieces: Park Güell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Milá (La Pedrera), Casa Batlló and Montjuic.
You will be mind-blown watching the amazing architectonic creations of Antoni Gaudí. Some of them you will find and watch in a quick pass on your route, others can take a bit more time to explore.
‣ Passeig de Gràcia
Down this road that connects to Plaza de Catalunya (listed above) you'll find the finest luxury brand stores and restaurants, and the masterpieces along the road: Casa Batlló (the gorgeous Casa Amatller right next to it). Casa Milá (La Pedrera) is also worth checking out and Montjuic (this last one, I didn't have time to visit but I've heard it's gorgeous. If you go, share some pics with me! )
‣ Sagrada Familia
Majestic falls short to describe the Sagrada Familia, which is probably the most famous touristic attraction. The forever work-in-progress has some angles for great shots too. The front part has a park (most transited) where you can get a full view, but picture a lot more tricky. I recommend the back part of the temple, where you can visit the park and take gorgeous shots with a lake view included.
‣ Park Güell
This is another of Gaudí's beautiful and most famous creations, surrounded with gardens and tons of views and spots for your pictures, sharing also a top city view.
Hanging at the gardens of Park Güell. Photos by Marcy Yu.
Front view of La Sagrada Familia.
5. La Barceloneta: a beach side walk.
On one of those trippy afternoons with Gigi Libre, we went to the Barceloneta to recharge with all the beach vibes. You can enjoy some fresh seafood, paella, or a drink at any of the beach clubs and of course: the beach! so close to the city center.
That same day, Gigi suffered an accident while riding her longboard; but like a warrior, that she is, she victoriously got over surgery and recovery. Now, nearly a year after we are glad it's just a memory and experience we both learned, as I was with her all the way. She took this picture of me that day just moment before the accident:
End of the ride in The Barceloneta.
6. The city escapes: Girona and The Monstserrat Monastery.
If you have enough time to explore outside the city, do it!
Get a trip to the city Girona (about 100 KMs from BCN). This city and the towns around are a breath of fairytale scenarios (most of Game Of Thrones was filmed there). Ideal for a relaxing or romantic getaway weekend too.
You can go by train, bus or more comfortably, by car. We were lucky enough to have a local guest: my photographer friend Eduard Serra, who you may know from many photographic projects we have done together. He lives in my hometown (Panama City), but he happened to be in BCN for a wedding. He took us (Gabo, Benita, Marcy, Pipa and I) on a road tip to his hometown: L'Estartit (which means 'the star'), surrounded by sea, and which get crowded with up to 20k visitors that come enjoy their beaches during high season.
On our way there, we were able to make a stop in the magical town of Peratalla. The buildings and walls of this small town of (population 500 aprox.) are all covered in stones, that will have you dreaming of medieval times.
‣ The Montserrat Monastery
We took a one-day-trip by train to The Montserrat Monastery. We left at about 8am and took the last trip back at 6pm (very accesible pricing) and had a day of full adrenaline experience we certainly did not expect to have. The place has a museum, basilica, squares an gorgeous views in its multi level gardens surrounding the mountain. Let's save the story of how I almost got busted to get that cover photo for another day, shall we? ;) Promise to bury you in details! the story deserves it.