Barcelona’s best kept secrets…

I left Barcelona almost two years ago and when I think about the city and how much I miss it I imagine myself having a stroll in Gracia’s neighbourhood. When people ask me about Barcelona, or mention how cool Les Rambles are and the beauty of Gaudi’s architectural works it makes me feel truly nostalgic. But then I ask them, “Have you been to Gracia?”

The neighbourhood of Gracia is really easy to reach, just up from the top of Passeo de Gracia it welcomes you with the hotel Casa Fuster, born from the rehabilitation of an emblematic modernist building. Walking further up Gran de Gracia you are in the heart of the neighbourhood and turning right you can lose yourself within the narrow streets and the cosy squares. Walking through Gracia you will feel the contrast of the borough, a mixture of the traditional with the trendy, antique with modern, sophistication with simplicity.

If I had to choose between all the lovely Gracia squares I would undoubtedly pick La Plaça del Sol because of the cafes, bars and restaurants. I love Envalira where you can have amazing arroz (a kind of paella).

During summer I used to spend my weekends there just walking through the streets, or sitting on a terrace and watching the world go by and enjoying an ice-cream at La Plaça de la Revolucio, or welcoming in the evening with a Mojito from the groovy bar Le Journal at Plaça Rius i Taulet.

During winter time I liked to spend weekend afternoons at the old Verdi Cinema, which plays the last independent European movies in their original language. Or visit El Mercat de la Llibertat (the freedom market), a modernist elegant building decorated by Gaudi’s great friend Francesc Berenguer i Mestres where you can get a huge variety of fresh and organic foodstuffs.

Gracia definitely feels more like a small welcoming town rather than a district in a cosmopolitan city; a bohemian and unique space which is home to intellectuals, artists, students and families who make up an active and politically-conscious Catalan community. In short it can seem a world apart from Barcelona and sometimes offers a peaceful refuge from the crowded city.