Miami + Paris = BARCELONA!
People always inquire about my trips and ask what of all the places I have visited has the best beaches and best coastal city life. Time and time again, the answer is Barcelona. I have been supremely fortunate enough to have visited amazing beaches all around the world. I have been to every island in the Caribbean be it the Leeward or Windward Islands. Luckily, thanks to fortunate opportunities with my profession, I have ventured to beaches along the northeast coast of the states including the beaches in East Hampton, Ocean City – Maryland and then across the ocean, to places like Monaco, Cannes, Sorrento, and my favorite Barcelona! Barcelona was a dream when we visited.
I have studied so much of the artistry and architecture of Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, and Antoni Gaudi that I knew when Omar and I would go visit it would be something that we would not do casually. We booked our trip for a five night, six-day stay at a true boutique hotel and only did so after great research and lengthy conversations with the front desk staff and concierge. They knew English fluently, however I speak Spanish fluently, still it was nice to know that although we didn’t pay a five-star price but still got the five star service. The hotel we resided at was Hotel Praktik Rambla, address Rambla de Catalunya 27, 08007 Barcelona, Spain.
Hotel Praktik Rambla is within the Eixample district and that means you are close to everything that is a must see, transportation, and still get a quiet and safe night’s sleep. Oh and it gets better….. they have air conditioning in your hotel – a rarity within Europe and even more so at boutique hotels. We chose their most standard room and whilst it didn’t have a view worth chatting about, the amenities of the hotel, room, location and staff made it one of the most pleasant stays we have ever had in Europe!
So what makes Barcelona so amazing? It is the one city that I have been to that has everything you could wish for, as stated in the title it is like a fusion of Miami and Paris. It has the most gorgeous beaches that are clean and offer pristine waters. The atmosphere on the beaches is filled with people who are doing more than soaking up the sun rays, they are playing soccer, volleyball, throwing a paella party on the beach, and dancing until the sun goes down! The energy is an uncontrollable infection of fun, laughs, great food, and drinks. However that is not all, when you look around the corner of the paved avenue leading toward streets alongside of the beach, you can see some of the coolest buildings that are showpieces to the city’s skilled residents. Moreover, Barceloneta Beach in specific has artists sketching, drawing, and photographing the awesomeness of the vibes surrounding the sea and its landscape.
Did I mention the variety of cuisines, OH MY! It reminded me of Paris because I never once had a bad meal, not even one that was mediocre. Omar and I began to comment that we wondered if those around us thought we were food critics with the number pictures we snapped before every meal. I remember walking one morning to La Boqueria, an open marketplace off Las Ramblas and less than a 5 minute walk from our hotel, that put Whole Foods and Trader Joes to shame! Our visit easily made clear why our meals and snacks all around town were so vibrant and delicious.
Lastly, the art and architecture. Now again, this is NOT to brag or boast, but because of my profession I have seen a plethora of cathedrals, churches, museums, and renowned works of architecture around the world and nation. Except, none have impressed me with its intricacies and profound methodology to telling the story of the Bible like the La Sagrada Familia. I truly believe regardless of one’s religion a visit to this Gaudi masterpiece will be one you will never forget and compare all others to in the future. Paris is a city where you rome the streets and realize you are walking a living history lesson, Barcelona is no exception. Whether it is Montjuic and its Castle (a fortress guarding the palace at one time), Casa Batilo (A true Alice and Wonderland building) where the roof transpires reality and becomes the imagination of scaled dragon, or Parc Guell (a parc meant for the wealthy) but has become the birthplace for many independent films, photography sessions, and a playground for the common man. Lastly, just outside the city is a place with both meaning and majesty to me- is Montserrat. Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful monastery carved within a mountain range in dedication to the Virgin Mary, much like the one form my birthplace, Bogotá.
Barcelona has so many outstanding historical monuments, neighborhoods, and museums to mention in a blog post. If you have never been to Europe make this city your first visit, you wont be disappointed but better yet you will be amazed at how easy-going the people and city is to learn! If nothing else you will get a great feel for two cities in one, and without a doubt it is the idyllic coastal vacation spot.