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.
Views of The Montserrat Monastery.
A sunset in Girona. Photo by Eduard Serra.
Crossing bridges in Girona. Photo by Eduard Serra.
Views of the Medieval Peratallada Town.
Visiting L'Esartit, Eduard´s hometown.
7. Good eating! Here's a list of my favs:
‣ Vinitus: one day was not enough for Marcy and I to meet our dear Caro Red in BCN with her family, but the dinner we had made that special night out together even more amazing is this tapas restaurant. Not ONE thing we ordered did not blow our taste buds. Top, top!
‣ Mosquito: I went to try this this tapas restaurant with Carreyó in one of our wandering city night. The cozy oriental decoration and the asian-fusion flavors will leave you having wanting more!
‣ Macchina Pasta Bar: freshly made pasta everyday by Italian gals and all sauces you could want. If you are all about Italian food, don't miss this one!
‣ Hamburguesería Central: it was across the place I was staying at Via Laietana, one of the main avenues of the city. I had to make a stop and those custom-made burgers did not disappoint!
‣ König: originally from Girona, this franchise has a few restaurants in the city. Good burgers at a very good price.
‣ Pim Pam Burger: on an afternoon hangout with Marc Forma, he took Marcy and I to Pim Pam Burger to get custom made burgers after some city touring. They were so good. Who´s keeping count of burgers here?
‣ Santa Burg: a dear friend recommended this in Barcelona, so we went to check it out! (you can always have one more burger right?). This one is a bit pricier than Konig or Pim Pam but really good burgers and more food options other than burgers.
‣ Vegetalia (vegan): if you are looking for something light to keep up with all the walking, try them! amazing salads, quinoa bowls and food to recharge you with tons of power.
‣ Vegan Raw Organic: of my favorites with an incredible variety of vegan food. Self-serve what you like and pay by weight. I think these ended up being my most expensive plates though, because I want to try everything lol! They also have a little shop with artisan and organic products.
‣ La Taquería: Mexican food at its best! close to The Sangrada Familia site. The restaurant was doing so well, they opened one exactly the same at the other side of the building. Same menu, owners and the amazing food. They are always full!
‣ Udon: noodles, noodles, noodles is their specialty! Asian food in style if you want to dress up for some fine eating.
‣ La Boquería: this is one of the places you must visit as a touristic site, in this market you´ll have many food options and stands of fresh seafood, vegan or anything you are looking for!
‣ Wok To Walk: perfect on the go or after a few drinks kick in and hunger strikes in the middle of the night. You wont not many options open, other than street food (like pizza). I loved eating a hot wok meal on the way home on a chilly night after a concert or going to my fav bar! I could go sleep like a baby!
Enjoying some good beer and olives with Babo Tiburón and Benita N.
8. The night life and live music!
‣ Mil-leni Festival: I follow live music more that anything. I caught up Jose James show at the Apollo Hall during Millenni Festival (it runs for long time, doing various shows during oct-nov season).
‣ Razzmatazz: Good partying club and live music, mostly a concert venue. Make sure to check out their billboard when in town.
‣ Stereo 18: they were just opening the week I found them an they were giving me all the funky vibes with great music selection all night long with awesome cocktail menu! They are located at Passeig del Born along with other night life venues.
‣ Sauvage: I think the name says it all! Right across the street from Stereo 18, you'll find this bar. On level one, great music and clubbing. Once you go down the stairs to the bottom level... well you'll have to go to find out what happens!
‣ Número Nueve: small cozy bar with minimalist cocktail drinks and music to dance all night! The first bar I went out to with Gigi.
‣ Guzzo: cocktail bar and restaurant with live music and jams going on with a lot of Latin Spice. All night long!
‣ JazzSí: Yep! Live jazz, flamenco and other genres with a great community of musicians in town! They even do workshops.
‣ El Palau de la Música Catalana: I didn't get a chance to go to a live concert here. If you get tickets, go enjoy this modern concert hall and its impecable sound, do it! You can also take a guided tour. Declared world heritage.
My favorite funky vibes bar, Stereo 18, on Passeig del Born.
I hope you this guide is helpful. Since I'll be going back soon, I'd love too hear you recommendations and what you like in this city too! Pending on that story at the Montserrat Monastery :) Until next time!
En la cima de Montserrat, Barcelona. Foto: Marcy Yu.
La banda sonora del trip!
Este clásico de Bon Jovi se volvió la canción de saludo de mi amigo de la vida Gabo Tiburón. Él y su prometida Benita, nos estaban hospedando y cada vez que Marcy y yo volvíamos casa, nuestra línea de saludo empezaba algo así: "Hola! adivina lo que le pasó a Mayra hoy!" Band sonora, touché. ¿Ésta foto de cover dice algo de eso? Casi me arrestan por tomarla. Luego les cuento.
Luego de muchos años de mi primera visita a Barcelona, tuve la oportunidad de pasar 3 semanas en esta fantástica ciudad y para mi sorpresa, encontrarme con muchos amigos que ahora viven acá y otras que casualmente visitaban en las mismas fechas que yo. ¡Esto se estaba poniendo interesante! Entonces, acá va lo más destacado de este viaje y mis recomendaciones. No puedo creer que vuelvo en un mes.
Afiche del evento del concierto en El Medi de Barcelona, donde me presenté junto a Carreyó.
1. Mi primer concierto (oficial) del otro lado del charco.
Tuve el placer de oficialmente dar un concierto e interpretar algo de mi música junto a mi querido amigo y también cantautor Carreyó. La cita fue en el acogedor bar El Medi, que recibe cientos de artistas para sus presentaciones musicales en vivo cada semana. ¡No pudo ser mejor con amigos y familiares presentes! Gabo, Benita, Nina Leon, Marc Forma y a todos los panameños y locales que vinieron a vernos cantar y saludarnos: ¡gracias!
Show en vivo junto a Carreyó en Bar El Medi, Barcelona. Fotos: Gabo Tiburón.
2. Un caminata al atardecer a los The Bunkers de Carmel.
Nos preparamos para una aventura empinada, en busca de una de las vistas más hermosas de la ciudad y llegamos justo a tiempo para presenciar un atardecer espectacular. La cereza del pastel, fue la llegada sorpresa de Hilany S, quien estando incomunicada, esperaba encontrarnos en la cima. Accidentalmente nos chocamos y esta mujer aparece con: ¡champagne! salud a ese atardecer en el mejor spot de relajación al aire libre en la ciudad.
Debido a su estratégica locación, el montículo de 260 metros de alto y perspectiva de 360 grados fue perfecto para locación de armamento utilizado para defender la ciudad contra ataques aéreos durante la guerra civil entre 1936 -1939. Quedaron las estructuras de concreto, que se volvieron populares por sus vistas.
Recomendación: Podrías planificar un picnic y tener en cuenta que no hay facilidades arriba (ni baños). Es accesible por metro. Sugiero tomar la ruta de Alfonso X que te dejará más cerca de la base de El Turó de la Rovira, donde empieza el recorrido. Prepárate para unos 30 minutos de camino cuesta arriba.
A sunset view from the top of the Bunkers and bridge.
3. Las caminatas: Parc de la Ciutadella, Barrio Gótico, El Born, Las Ramblas y El Raval.
¡Barcelona definitivamente es una ciudad para caminar y pasear en bici!
A mi llegada a Barcelona, Gigi Libre fue la primera en recibirme en casa junto a Lourdes (a quien agradezco también su hospitalidad) y Oscar (un gato muy peculiar). Fue rápida en señalar algunos lugares para visitar de salida y siempre tenía algún plan o sitio que mostrar en los alrededores. Durante nuestros primeros días, hicimos bastante caminata a sitios como:
‣ Parc de la Ciutadella
Construida a finales del siglo XIX, este parque público guarda una vasta vegetación y árboles centenarios y esculturas interesantísimas. Una caminata que vale la pena donde además en el camino al parque puedes observar otras atracciones como el Arco del Triunfo.
‣ El Barrrio Gótico
Piérdete en el barrio Gótico, admirando antiguos edificios romanos, mezclados con arquitectura más moderna. Destaca La Catedral con las angostas calles que parecen laberintos que llevan a ella. Encontrarás plazas, restaurantes y bares a lo largo de tus rutas de camino y mucha actividad comercial.
‣ Las Ramblas y El Raval
Uno de los sitios más visitados en el corazón de la ciudad es La Rambla, un paseo mayormente peatonal de aprox. 1.2 kilómetros con todo tipo de atracciones par todo tipo de visitantes. Tiene el Barrio Gótico de un lado y El Raval del otro lado. Al principio del trayecto (norte) podrás encontrar la bella Plaza de Catalunya, donde me encontré con Dj Glenn González para poneros al día, disfrutando unas tapas al final de la caminata. También podrías disfrutar algo de vida nocturna y bares (sugiero que de ir de noche más adentro hacia el lado de El Raval, ir con un local o a un sitio específico en lugar de caminar tanto por ahí), como cuando me encontré con Louran S., amiga conocedora y amante del mundo cervecero que me llevó esa noche a fiesta y escuchar música en vivo en las entrañas de El Raval. Salud babe!
‣ El Born
Este área esta próximo al Barrio Gótico, y podrías atravesarlo en el mismo día. Vistas interesantes de sus calles te van a absorber, junto a muchas pequeñas boutiques donde puedes encontrar todo lo que busques. Además: restaurantes, bares y una vida nocturna activa. También queda cerca de Parc de la Ciutadella.
Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona. Fotos por Gigi Libre.
Arco del Triunfo. Foto por Gigi Libre.
La Catedral del Barrio Gótico.