Leave your furniture on the street | Barcelona

10 de Julio

1:21 The thing where people put old stuff in the street to recycle, does it have a name? Like a Catalan thing / Spanish term maybe?

1:22 Mmh no I don’t think so

1:22 People would call it ‘Deixar els mobles al carrer’  which means ‘leave your furniture on the street’ and in Gràcia it happens on wednesdays but it doesn’t have a term as far as I know

Ciutadella Sketches | Barcelona

Maybe you won’t be able to tell from looking at these pictures but: I drew these sketches with a smile on my face. My eyes are screwed up and squinting because of the early evening still-hot sunshine. I’m crouched over the paper and the heat and this posture is giving me a headache. I sit up straight and drop my shoulders (remembering the instructions from Luz) I can feel the tension run down from my temples and roll off my shoulders. I can hear music pouring from two different speakers on either side. Two groups of people and two songs coinciding. Mostly, the different types of music clash and add to the molstrum of sounds, the skaters, the shouting, the cars and the buses. Occasionally, it works. There are a few seconds where they sound in perfect harmony. Like a bad dj who doesn’t understand what he’s doing but occasionally, occasionally and by accident there are moments of magic.

 

 

Winding lanes | Perros – Guirec, France

 

Perros - Guirec

I’m on a bus winding around these lanes. Past every corner I keep seeing my dream house: slate roof, colourful shutters, palm trees and a glimpse of craggy coast and blue sea behind.
This bus is free. It runs every Tuesday and Friday morning. Everyone who gets on the bus says hello to everyone else and when they leave they say goodbye in the same way. My french is really coming along. “Bonjour!!!” I say. I don’t understand all of the conversations but I’m smiling and nodding a lot.

 

Back for the summer | Vila de Gràcia, Barcelona

Yesterday I saw a toddler being carried down the street. He was looking around at the city and pointing at everything excitedly. The buildings! The cars! The people! The balconies!!! He was so amazed and delighted at what he was seeing that he couldn’t help wriggling in his father’s arms and smiling at everyone he saw. It was early evening and it’s early summer and everyone in the street was happy to be heading home from work, even the people who were rushing or stressed felt a little bit better just for being outside, surrounded by the noise and the orange glow and the clear sky and the palm trees and the gentle heat and the thought of a cold beer waiting for them in a full plaza at the end of their journey.

 

 

Take a breath | Colonia del Sacramento

I spent two days wandering around Colonia on my own but despite my best efforts, I didn’t get lost at any point. It’s small and the paths keep ending up in the same place. It feels like no matter what direction you walk in, you always end up heading down to the shore and the buildings frame the water like curtains either side of a stage. There’s an old town designed by the first Portuguese colonisers and it’s all set into a beautiful landscape. The biggest flurry of activity I saw was in the evening when it seemed like everyone in the town headed down to the water’s edge to drink mate and watch the sunset, that was fine by me. 

The journey from Buenos Aires to Uruguay costs around €40-50, takes less than a couple of hours and as such is a well travelled route – as a weekend away, a visa run or a stop on the way to Brazil. I wasn’t sure what to expect  but I’m glad that I chose to explore a bit and didn’t just head straight for the capital of Montevideo. Colonia shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if what you’re after is a change of pace after losing your mind in the gorgeous sprawling mass of Buenos Aires.

Galeria del Viejo Hotel | Buenos Aires

El Patio de Cabo Verde | Galeria del Viejo Hotel | San Telmo | Buenos Aires


This old hotel in San Telmo was converted into a gallery and houses the studios and shops of more than 40 artists and craftspeople. We sat on the patio in the middle of all of the workshops until the sun started to set.

“.. una de las principales atracciones de la Galería, para vecinos y turistas, es el bar-restaurante de la planta baja. Allí también suelen juntarse los artistas de la casa para debatir en grandes mesas hasta que arremeten empanadas, vinos y cervezas.
Al caminar por estos pasillos, se respira el olor de las paredes recién blanqueadas, se aprecia el verde de las plantas que se extienden de balcón a balcón mediante hilos bien dispuestos.”

(Alejandro M. Zamponi)

Visit one of Europe’s oldest open air markets ENCANTS | Barcelona

Illustration of Els Encants Barcelona
Els Encants Market

The first time I went to Encants I was overwhelmed. The multi – levelled, mirrored structure creates distorted reflections of the stalls and mountains upon mountains of ephemera. Despite looking compellingly futuristic, Encants is reputedly one of the oldest open air flea markets in Europe. Dating from the 14th century, Els Encants has been housed in Glories since 1928 and is still up and running today. The metal canopy (the result of a renovation in 2013) also means the ‘open air’ market can trade in all weathers. This isn’t one of those trendy, or especially pretty, vintage markets but a real old style wade-through-tat-to-find-your-treasure and then spend 20 minutes bartering, to leave with a bargain, kind of place. Be prepared to spend some time rummaging with your elbows out and it will be great.

The market is located on the edge of the center of Barcelona but is easily accessed by metro to Encants (L2) or Glories (L1). There are food stalls on site and the Design Museum of Barcelona (Museu del Disseny) is a couple of minutes walk away, so there’s enough around to make a visit to Encants worth the short journey.

Map of Glòries
Map of Glòries

What’s your favourite place in the whole world?

Would you like an illustration that makes you smile every time you look at it to remind you of that place? I am offering personalised house and travel illustrations, check out my Etsy shop here.

 

MACBA | Barcelona

It’s a modern art museum tucked in between historic buildings and the winding, narrow streets of Raval, it should be out of place but it just feels…right.

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona – MACBA

MACBA’s permanent collection of art is vast and it hosts frequently changing exhibitions, best of all, it’s free to visit Saturdays 4-8pm.

For me, the best part of MACBA is outside. Follow the sound of wheels through Raval and eventually the narrow streets will open up into the Plaça dels Àngels– the front of the museum serves as an unofficial skate park and meeting place. There’s something poetic about the way this obviously uber modern building sits between the old edificios in Raval, and how the noise and movement outside contrasts with the calm hush that covers the interior. Everyday throughout the week this square is buzzing, come to relax, skate – or just watch the tricks and wince at the falls onto concrete.

It’s amazing to see and really something you should experience for yourself. Great pit stop in the city because there are loads of bars, the Raval neighborhood has some of the cheapest prices in Barcelona.

What’s your favourite place in the whole world?

Would you like an illustration that makes you smile every time you look at it to remind you of that place? I am offering personalised house and travel illustrations, check out my Etsy shop here.

A QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PICNIC SPOT | Barcelona

…A ROUGH GUIDE TO SOME OF MY FAVORITE PARKS IN THE CITY

In my opinion, the best thing about Barcelona is its FULL ON energy. It’s fast, wild & busy, but sometimes you want to escape the hustle and bustle and eat a relaxed meal al fresco without just going to the beach and getting sand in your sandwiches again.

PARK GUELL ET AL

If you head in direction of the famous Gaudi park you’ll be treated to amazing 360 views of the city, but if you’d enough of everyone’s favorite Catalan modernist architect and his fans that crowd so many sites in Barcelona and are after a more peaceful camino then try Graunido – same great views but a quieter place to stop and eat your snacks.

Con: it’s a bit far away from..it all, but then again, that’s kind of the point.

THE MANY PARKS OF MONTJUIC

Montjuic is a hill in Barcelona with a castle on top. It’s a pretty big area but crucially has lost of little pockets of gardens tucked away from the heat of the sun and the chaos of the city. If you head up from Placa Espanya you’ll likely first come across the Olympic Park – it was constructed as an add on to the Lluis Companys stadium when Barcelona hosted the Olympics in ‘92. It is worth a visit, but the cool benches of this nineties vision of the future don’t make for a comfy picnic spot.

Better head to some of the more grassy areas, closer to the funicular station that runs between Montjuic and Paralel metro like Jardins de Mossèn Jacinto Verdager.

If you’re after a sea view, saunter over to the Hotel Mirimar and follow the path that snakes around the side until you reach a gorgeous little garden – Plaça de l’Armada, ornamental with fountains and gorgeous flowers. Take a moment here to enjoy the tranquility, and, if you listen carefully you can follow the sound of crooning jazz music to a fancy restaurant on the right hand side of the hotel (facing the sea), if memory serves me correctly and this magical place wasn’t a mirage induced by climbing the slightly inclined path from paralel, then here you will find a menu of pricey sea food. It’s possible to grab a table just to drink if it’s not too full and I’d recommend paying to enjoy a caña or their house vermut. The views are great and you feel like you’re at the edge a of sexy 1920s cocktail party.

Con: the layout of the top of the hill is big and pretty complex which means that it’s easy to get lost and walk a lot. Don t forget to amble.

CITUDELLLA

The main entrance is captivatingly placed in line with the famous Arc de Triomf and a stones throw from the trendy El Born neighborhood. The park is pretty, you can also visit a beautiful Catalan parliament buildings from the 1700s and the atmosphere is fun – usually you will end up watching someone practicing acro yoga or tightrope walking and there’s a lake that you can row boats on.

con: Not so peaceful especially on the weekends. Although who doesn’t love making new friends?

 

BONUS: Bunkers del Carmel

On top of Turó de la Rovera, ruins of bunkers from the Spanish civil war boasting 360 degree views and cool vibes.

Best Served: at sunset accompanied by wine and friends.

Check out Picasso’s old haunts | Barcelona

There’s something beautiful about spending time in a historic city is imagining the lives of all the people who have lived there over the years. Although there are newer buildings and areas, in Barcelona you can walk on the same streets that were walked upon by Picasso and it’s a mind blowing feeling. Picasso lived here at various points during his life and the city had a formative effect on his artistic career – he staged his first individual exhibition at Els Quatre Gats cafe on Carrer de Montsió, which he used to frequent along with other creative thinkers of the time. You can check out the restaurant, explore the neighborhoods where he lived and visit the Picasso museum in El Gotico – its free Thursday evenings 6-9.30pm.

Picasso’s significant addresses are listed here