Barcelona sounds like my version of a perfect city on paper – gorgeous Gothic architecture, beaches, a mild, year round climate, an easily walkable layout, and a world-class food scene – but something about it didn’t click with me, and I found myself feeling underwhelmed my first day in the city.
Lukewarm describes my overall feeling for Barcelona – some things I loved about the city, while others left me feeling ambivalent. The sheer size and masses of crowds first struck me, and having just arrived from five blissful days on Santorini, I wasn’t impressed. Then I took one glance at the Gothic Quarter, with its stunningly beautiful architecture and ornate facades, and I started to warm to the city.
This hot and cold pattern continued throughout my stay – one minute I was eating disappointingly mediocre pinxtos, the next I was indulging in one of the most memorable meals from my trip to Greece and Spain. One minute I was engrossed by the lively atmosphere at the palm-lined port, and the next I was elbowing my way through hordes of tourists, the strong smell of urine lingering for blocks.
My last day in Barcelona, however, was fantastic. I spent the morning eating my way around La Boqueria market, stuffing my face full of delicious food. I explored the mind-bogglingly beautiful Sagrada Familia, and was awestruck by its intricacies and colours and details. I snacked on a plate of nutty Manchego cheese, and drank copious amounts of €1 glasses of Cava. I took one last slow, methodical amble through the Gothic Quarter and savoured my last taste of tapas for dinner.
By the end of my last day, I started to feel as though Barcelona might be pretty close to that perfect-sounding city after all. Maybe if I would have had more time in city, more time to explore El Born – a beautiful neighbourhood I accidentally and briefly wandered through, or if I had spent more time perusing the markets, and had set aside an afternoon to laze on the beach – maybe then I would have left with a little more love for Barcelona.
Have you been to Barcelona? Which destinations have left you feeling underwhelmed?