My Barcelona

By Daniel Raven-Ellison

I’m a campaigner, adventurer and blogger living in West London. I’ve walked across Mexico City, been stuck in a hurricane in Belize even chased by elephants in Zimbabwe! I can’t wait to see how the locals live away from the hotspots.

Dan’s Steps

Three whole days in Barcelona, Spain

 

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Day 1

 

Wanting to get off the beaten track and see a different side to Barcelona, this morning I started a two day walk from Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia.

Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia is a charming and peaceful square with a giant tower in the middle. Lots of retired locals and scruffy pigeons and the occasional tourist group.

 





I pre-planned the route in an infinity symbol so that it would force me to see places I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, keeping the route playful and fun.

Today I looped south west and up into the hills. Taking in the culture and architecture of the city like all the impressive buildings in the pictures.



Carrying on my  walk further into the day I found peace and beauty in the greener parts of Barcelona, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind.  The wildlife is really out in full force today, I have already seen five species of butterflies, some bees, dragonflies and even snakes .

My walk to this point has been wonderful, completely different to the streets I am accustomed to seeing back home in Britain. I love that here the streets on the first part of my walk have fought for my attention with the street art, ornate architecture, beautiful decay and flowers tumbling off balconies.

 




My Barcelona

Day 2

 

Day two of my 40km walk around Barcelona is  starting at Mercat de l’Abaceria Central, a massive indoor market.

It’s flanked by the congested Traveserra de Gràcia on one side and Carrer de Puigmarti, a pedestrianized quiet street of cafes and shops on the other. The market is a perfect place to shop where locals shop and pick up a tasty lunch. It’s full of small food stalls selling fresh local fruit, veg, honey, jams and animals. A great place to slowly meander through the streets that surround the market.





There are dozens of independent shops and people chilling in the Sun and taking in some caffeine and cake. Just over quarter of way around today's loop and I take some shade in Plaça Sóller, a large square in Porta neighbourhood. The square is complete with a stage, table tennis, space for gathering and markets and a cascading bathing pool, although the pumps are not on. There’s no traffic noise just the noise of parakeets letting me know they’re here with me. I love how curiously they look at the world around them and use their claws to shift around in strange positions to have a good gorp at him. It’s quiet now but there’s evidence that at the weekend it’d be full of children playing and chalking on the ground. It's not your typical tourist spot, but it's certainly a good place to have a sandwich and get an honest sense of one of a typical Barcelona's neighbourhood. My circle keeps taking me in and out of tourist hot spots, passing through the iconic Park Güell with its stunning curvaceous architecture that feels far more part of the landscape than many of the regular buildings that fill the UK cities. l took my time in the park to enjoy the spikes and flowers of the cacti and succulents.


Not a fan of being surrounded by so many travellers I took some steep steps into the much less visited Parc del Carmel and headed to a viewing point close to its south-western entrance with stunning views.

The real prize was a further 100m or so up to the top of the park. There’s a 360 degree view of Barcelona, maybe the very best in the city. Other than a dog that just turned up to sniff around the tree!




My Barcelona

Day 3

After walking 40km in two days, I  decided to take it a little easier for day three. Sticking to the quieter streets to get a close up view of Barcelona I am still gravitating towards the high points to enjoy more views.

I started by wandering down Carrer de les Moles, a narrow urban canyon whose bottom is shining from a fresh wash. Swifts fly overhead with incredible agility in the search of rooftop insects, their calls of wildness punctuating the city walls. The street merges onto Carrer Comtal, a pleasant pedestrian street of boutique shops, a Starbucks and a constant flow of tourists.





I finally make it up to Jardins de Miramar. After lots of walking over the last two days I am have decided to take it easy under the shade of a tree and enjoy watching the movement of the city. Large ferries are coming in and out of the port, cable cars are rolling by and there’s a lazy lizard that’s got its eye on me.

My route up here took me through Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, just below Montjuïc. The botanic gardens I passed through are home to 800 different kinds of cacti and succulents from around the world. There’re some really massive cacti and a number that look like giant green sea urchins.

 

 



I spent the last hour or so of my trip exploring Barcelona’s stunning Gothic Quarter checking out design markets and art shops.

I have started to develop a real taste for modern Catalonian pottery and  would recommend visiting Empremtes de Catalunya on Carrer dels Banys Nous. At the back is an exhibition of modern ceramics for tapas dishes that includes some surprising and playful designs.

Standing in Placa de Jean Genet I set off to explore the parks below the Montjuïc Castle stopping to take a photo of some wall insulation. A fairly peculiar things to stop for but as the Spanish sun hits it I find the saffron decay absolutely stunning.




My Barcelona
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