[spotlight series. Manuela sosa and jordi mestre]

[Barcelona soundtrack. new track]

Barcelona. Known for its great quality of life (almost year-round sunshine, beaches and mountains), this artistic and cultural hub, is full of beauty and inspiration. “Barcelona nourishes creativity”, said Ferran Adria, chef and “Barcelover”. And you can feel that energy here. A perfect mix of all our favorite things – the beach, good food, design and architecture (hello Gaudi), open and dynamic people, lots of beautiful green spaces (and awesome views from Parc Güell) and great music – this is the perfect place to hang out for a few days. With streets full of history, there is nothing better than getting lost in the little narrow laneways that make up the Barri Gòtic. Hang with locals in Gracia, or find cool stuff popping up out of converted warehouses in El Poblenou.  

With so much to do, and so much to eat (but never enough time)…we have listed below just a few of our favorite things (from last summer) to get you started on a quick 2-day visit.

To caffeinate.

Over the past few years, specialty coffee has really taken off in Barcelona, and you will definitely be impressed by whats on offer. These are some of our favorites:

Coffee lab & shop by nomad productions: this is easily one of the most beautiful coffee corners we have found so far. Jordi Mestre found this stunning space, tucked away down Passatge Sert in El Born, after returning from life in London. He returned to Barcelona to do what he does best – coffee. You wont find any food here. No different kinds of milk. No sugar. Just straight up coffee. Jordi buys green beans, roasts them and turns them into delicious brews. It’s beautiful here.

Satan’s coffee corner: in a beautiful light and airy space, tucked down the end of a laneway in theBarri Gòtic – Carrer de l’Arc de Sant Ramon del Call – Satan’s young owner Marcos is doing great things in the world of coffee. Offering a great food menu as well, and even better, very friendly service (shout-out to Marcos’ hilarious brother), we love passing by here.

Sky coffee co (check their opening situation – we think they may have closed this summer (2015)): housed inside a big El Poblenou warehouse (which also plays home to an architecture firm), the Sky Coffee Co serve their delicious brews out of a cute 1972 Citroen HY. We love a good pop-up, and this little guy is no exception. Sky was the first to bring good coffee to the Catalan streets.

To eat.

Le Pepita (Costega 343): for tapas in a can! We love this little corner bar. Fun, noisy, and not only packed full of visitors, locals too. Try to book, or put your name down and wait awhile. We love sitting at the bar. Famous for their namesake – Las Pepitas (a thin sandwich filled with all sorts of different fillings – we like the tuna one with avocado, mitzuna salad and a ginger/soy dressing). Also try their homemade tapa in a can. These little ‘tapalatas’ are great. Not very Spanish, but we like the hummus with beet salad, mint and cucumber. Fresh and full of flavor. The argentine beef skewer with chimichurri was incredible.

La Paradetta: this place is not fancy, but if you are looking for good fish and something casual, come here. Choose your catch and pay by weight. It’s all about the food.

Mercat de la Boqueria: yes, it’s in every guidebook, but for good reason. A beautiful, lively market in the heart of Barcelona with great little food stalls, and fresh produce. Another one to check out is the (very similar) Mercat de Poblenou in the much less touristy neighborhood of Poblenou. Equally as wonderful, this mercat has been keeping the Poblenou neighborhood well-fed since 1913.

To drink.

Plaza del Sol: one of the loveliest plazas in Barcelona, in a very Catalan neighborhood, this is our favorite place to hang out on a sunny afternoon. With hippy vibes, this is where the locals come to drink when the sun comes out. Music from the surrounding bars fills the square, and people sit around drinking and eating tapas. Order tapas from Sol Soler – cheap, authentic and delicious. Drink at Sol de Nit (which also has good music).

Barcelona Pipa Club: most bars in Barcelona close at 2am…but one bar in Plaza Real found a way to get around that, and that is the Pipa Club. By claiming they are a “pipe association” they have a late-night license until 6am. Best to go after 1am or 2am. A really fun club. Ring the bell and go up to the second floor. Relaxed, old school bar with lots of dark wood.

Balius bar: in el poblenou. We stumbled across this beautiful corner bar by mistake. The colored mosaic tiles out the front luring us in. run by a friendly Scotsman and his Spanish wife, pioneers in the bar industry. They were responsible for introducing the G&T to this part of the world. Great cocktails, and a fantastic local and sustainable food menu.

To shop.

Gang and the Wool: a little out of town, but absolutely worth a visit. There is something very magical about Manuela Sosa’s floristry and her very special little greenhouse.

Els Encants: the oldest flea-market in Barcelona. Originally called the “Old Charms” flea-market, this renovated open air complex near the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes is where you can find all things trash and treasure. Antique furniture, door handles, old records, vintage clothes, postcards, posters and more.

Iriarte iriarte: check out Caroline Iriarte’s original and beautiful handcrafted leather bags.

To sleep.

Casa Gracia: the epitome of a boutique hostel. Perfectly located on Calle Gracia, right in the heart of Gracia, this big old building with vaulted ceilings, large picture windows, and a wonderful sunny terrace, has a chic and minimal aesthetic and is the perfect place to stay. If your days in a dorm are over (as ours are!), choose one of the private rooms with private bathroom. A friendly and in-the-know concierge will help you with any local recommendations you need. A simple breakfast is served on the terrace each morning, and a little sangria bar is set up in the same space by night. Always hosting fun music events, themed dinners and parties, this is a fun and lively place to stay. You can choose to get as involved, or not, as you like. With big plans to grow over the coming years, it’s an exciting time to visit Casa Gracia.

El Paulauet: for something more fancy (and expensive), you might be interested in these beautiful suites housed in a 1906 art noveau building. Also located on Calle Gracia, each suite is assigned with a personal assistant who will act as your dedicated concierge for your stay. A lovely sleeping option.