I had the opportunity to travel to Barcelona recently and before I begin with my journey, I’d like to shout out to all my Chicano friends back in California because I wouldn’t have understood any single word without you guys constantly insulting me in Spanish. Aside from that, Mexican-Spanish and Spanish-Spanish are like two different languages like Khaliji-Arabic and Lebanese-Arabic, so I was still lost — literally.
Barcelona is globally recognized for its architecture, cuisine and football team, which is pronounced “Bara” not Barça. The coastal city that sits on the northeastern part of Spain is full of nothing but life. Even in the dead of winter, the streets are bustling with people living that Mediterranean kind of lifestyle. In 1998, Barcelona became sister cities with Gaza and Dubai in 2006.
I was living every FCB fan’s dream, staying at a hotel down the block from Camp Nou where Barcelona kicks grass. The neighborhood of Les Corts is scattered with pubs and cafes where you can watch the game, where I watched Messi score two goals against Arsenal, jealous?
Despite the fact that it’s pretty big (not as big as London), the metro in Barcelona is easy enough for anyone literate to comprehend. Forget hop-on-hop-off, instead get a metro pass that allows you to ride the metro almost anywhere in the city. It’s also the most affordable way to get around town.
Having a meal in Barcelona isn’t just about stuffing your face, it’s almost ritualistic. The Spanish don’t eat to survive, they eat to savor life. Spanish meals come in several courses that are elongated and engulfed with seafood, sangria and chit chat. Must tries include patatas braves, a spicy potato small dish, and paella, a Spanish version of koushari or makloba.
If the Spanish are fenaneen in one thing, it’s art. Walk down La Rambla, which stretches from Plaça de Catalunya to Columbus Monument and includes a series of smaller streets that are sprinkled with cafes, shops and street performers. La Rambla also features some renowned art like Casa Batlló, which was redesigned by Gaudí in the early 20th century. The intricately designed building is covered with mosaics and stained-glass windows.
Aside from amazing food, art and architecture, Spain is home to a lot of political and cultural struggles that are similar to that of the Middle East. Barcelona holds similar political strifes within the nation. Scattered around Barcelona are the flags of Catalunya, a population within Spain that seeks democratic independence and establishment of their sovereignty.
Flamenco, which is the Spanish equivalent of an old Fifi Abdo performance, is also a must see. Flamenco is a combination of dancing, singing, hand clapping, finger snapping and music composed of percussion and string instruments.
All in all, Barcelona isn’t just any city, it’s a palace of culture, life and energy and one of the cities you need to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Originally published on Scoop Empire March 7, 2016