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Archive for the ‘Neighborhoods’ Category

Gracia

Today my roommate Tanja and I explored the neighborhood of Gracia, one of the most vibrant and young barrios of the city.  We ended up going at the perfect time, which was around 5:30 pm, after a luxurious day without classes and a long nap for both of us.

Having only been to Gracia a handful of times before (once on a formal walking tour our program had organized in the beginning of the semester, and another time at night when I could not fully appreciate it as it was 3 am and my high heel booties were causing my ankles to buckle under excruciating pain), I was not sure what to expect.  I had heard that Gracia was the. place. to. be.  And although it was still early evening when we walked around, I concluded that this statement was accurate.


Unlike most of the city, Gracia used to be its own pueblo before being incorporated into Barcelona, so it still retains quiet side streets that open up into picturesque plazas and that small-town/neighborhood-y vibe, which I quite enjoyed. Walking down the maze of streets, Tanja and I came across  café after café, mesmerized by the croissants con chocolate, pan mallorca, and other treats.  In an unparalleled feat of discipline, we passed them all by in an ultimately fruitless quest to find churros con chocolate (would you believe it that none of the panaderias in Gracia had them?)  Other more modern coffee shops were sprinkled amongst cute indie-designer boutiques and chic restaurants.

Though I did not take any pictures this go-round, what struck me about the neighborhood was not so much its architecture or the stores and restaurants (though they did have some lovely modernista buildings and good looking food on every corner), but rather the general ambience of a youthful, hip (but not with the “hipper than thou” attitude common in hipster ‘hoods) and modern neighborhood.  For although Barcelona, like many European cities, has amazing history and ancient buildings to be found on its charming, medieval streets, it is hard sometimes to connect with these beautiful parts of the old city…to feel like people really live and work there.  Then again, these are the ruminations of a girl who grew up in a city that was entirely destroyed and rebuilt not even 150 years ago.  In contrast, Gracia struck me as a modern neighborhood in the best sense of the word…though the architecture and layout of the neighborhood was very European (narrower streets and 3-4 story apartment buildings rather than any colossal skyscrapers), it was the people and their bustling energy that made the neighborhood interesting…the creative, young pioneers who shop at the gourmet deli with beverages from around the world or stay up all night having drinks with friends in one of the plazas.

I feel very lucky that I can have days like this every Friday where I can be a tourist again and explore the city, and I know I will definitely be coming back to Gracia very soon.

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