Barcelona; Gaudi;

I was told two things repeatedly when I mentioned I was going on a mini-break to Barcelona: It’s the best city in the world, and you WILL be pickpocketed.


For a moment I was confused. Is pickpocketing all part of the phenomenal life experience that Barcelona offers, thus helping to boost its ‘totally-most-awesome-city-ever’ reputation? Is it the delight of having someone deftly slide their hand into your pocket/handbag/bumbag which helps the Spanish city supersede all others?
I realised that however enjoyable it may be to come into such close physical contact with a deceptive street artist (although I’ve seen said street artists, and Enrique Iglesias they are not), these two statements are actually mutually exclusive. Thus meaning that Barcelona must be one AWESOME city if it has to deduct the annoyance of losing the €500, the passport, and the iPod you were stupidly carrying around with you all at the same time from its ‘Best City Ever’ score.

And they were right.

Not about the theft thingy, thank goodness (a healthy dose of paranoia helped me keep one hand on my bag at all times) but about what an incredible place Barcelona is. 25 degrees in early October lent itself nicely to bike rides up and down (mainly down) the cycle-friendly streets, strolling along the beach, and sleeping off the worst hangover in history on a patch of grass near a busy roundabout. The city is relaxed yet cosmopolitan, bustling but no sign of the dreaded ‘rat race’, and thanks to a shed-load of money pumped in from the ’92 Olympics it’s in top nick too. Oh and some mad bloke called Gaudi built some stuff there. You ought to take a look.

If you’re a glutten like me (that’s a greedy person, not a wheat-intolerant person) you’ll be thrilled by the array of eateries and drinkeries lining the streets, particularly in the Gothic Quarter. For a special occasion or a touch of the unusual, make a booking at Tintoreria Dontell. That’s all I’m saying on the matter (for fear of death). There’s plenty of little boutiquey shops dotted around too, where you can buy things such as denture-shaped ice cube trays and other such wonderfully quirky tat.

Finally, to cap off my Barcelona lyrical-waxing, if you find yourself with a thirst and fancy getting so obscenely drunk that the roundabout thing happens to you too, then you want to take yourself to the enormity that is ‘Razzmatazz’ – the club with 5 rooms built in an old aeroplane hangar or warehouse or something else really cavernous (but not necessarily a cavern). Muchos fun-times can be had here, as they say in Spanish, but it might be worth indulging in the old-age adage of ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’ every now and again.

Seriously, the roundabout thing was one of the lowest moments of my life.