Placa George Orwell in Barcelona was once known as Placa Trippy due to the high rate of drug use in this area of Barcelona. When Barcelona hosted the Olympics of 1992, the city underwent a major ‘clean up’ including the Gothic Quarter. After visiting Barcelona, I still think it has a ‘trippy’ and relaxed atmosphere.
Barcelona the Heart of Catalonia
A recent and fortunate visit to Barcelona, Catalonia has left me filled with a new appreciation for this area of our shrinking world. Now full of passion, tolerance, and hope for a brighter future, Barcelona is a city with a tumultuous history (www.lonelyplanet.com/swwwpain/barcelona/history). The current residents of this beautiful gem in what most of us consider northern Spain rather than Catalonia are inspired to dream of a richer future of independence and prosperity.
When arriving in one of the most visited cities in the world, you will instantly feel the vibe of friendliness, casual grace, acceptance of all people, and a blend of the old world and the push towards a future world for Barcelonians. Barcelonians time frame is different from most westerners . . . . breakfast at 10:00, lunch at 4:00, and dinner somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 pm. Then around 11:00 pm, maybe out for some sangria, laughter, dance, and the communion of accepting friends new and old. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?? Actually, it is a rhythm I could get used to, and you?
As for clothing, almost anything goes which is somewhat freeing. Bathing suit tops are optional on all beaches for women and several beaches require no clothing (still a little much for me). At first, I have to admit the optional tops for women was a little uncomfortable, but then I began to rather like the idea of taking away the stigma of naked breasts and the ‘sinful’ nature of uncovered ta-tas. In Barcelona, topless is simply no big deal! Another important fashion trend I noted in Barcelona is cut off jean shorts . . . and when I say shorts I mean butt cheeks hanging out short. Not an exceptionally attractive look to me, but it was really hot the weekend we visited (?). In drastic contrast to this clothing freedom is the forced covering of shoulders and thighs (especially for women) in most cathedrals. Again, adjusting to the rules of cathedrals in Spain and other southern European countries reflects an appreciation and respect for cultural norms.
Sangria, Mojitos, Tapas, and Popsicles
Sangria is found in the bars, restaurants, and on the beach in Barcelona. It is not a bad choice especially on a toasty summer day; however, you can live like a local and order a glass of Cava. Cava is the ‘unofficial’ drink of Barcelona and similar to the bubbly champagne of France. Reasonably priced at 4 to 6 euro per glass!
In addition to Cava, the Barcelonians seem fond of mojitos especially on the beach. Even though they may not be my favorite beachside cocktail, after enough cries from vendors on the beach I gave in . . . very refreshing! Oh, and the beaches. Yes the beaches in Barcelona are a creation of the 1992 Olympics with imported sand from Egypt but they are beautiful and extremely popular none the less. The beach atmosphere reminded me some of Rio de Janeiro; however, the water is more attractively clear and blue on the Mediterranean.
Tapas are found everywhere in the tourist sections of Barcelona. Although most locals find restaurants serving tapas a tourist trap, I must recommend a tapas restaurant in Barcelona, the Sensi Bistro, that is nothing short of a small piece of foodie heaven. To me, the Seni Bistro is comparatively as great as Oliveira (www.oliveira/restaurant.com) in Nice, France. The Sensi Bistro (www.sensi.es/bristro) in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is a must . . . .do make a reservation and make time to visit this wonderful restaurant. It is one of those restaurants where everyone at the table is amazed with the quality of food, the presentation of the food and the excellent service.
Finally, just to fit in Barcelona, you must have a popsicle or ice cream while walking the picturisque streets. I recommend the popsicle stand in Placa George Orwell.
So open your mind to trippy Barcelona. It seems to me that life might just be too short without a trip to Barcelona. Relax and enjoy a freeing adventure!