So many choices. Barcelona is filled with districts and neighborhoods. And eventually, I’ll have to pick one to be more or less a longer-term thing.
For both of my previous stays, I was in Barceloneta, which is the old fishing village next to the sea. It’s nice, and I would consider it, but it’s also got some serious drawbacks. I’m going to keep it in the list anyway, but I highly doubt it’s going to place much higher than last place.
The good … I really like the oldness. There is nothing fancy about the barrio. It’s ancient, smelly, tight, and noisy. And I like all of that. It has a great neighborhood market, and plenty of smaller stores to meet any need. It’s right on a subway line (as all of my choices must be) and easy an walk to other places. And it’s right on the Mediterranean Sea. Plus, I know it like the back of my hand.
The not so good … it’s touristy as hell. And not the good touristy either. We get the cruise ship refugees. The young, drunk, and stupid. The loud and obnoxious and oblivious. It’s not a spectacular combination.
The Not So Much
I’ve checked out several other barrios, and these are the ones that really didn’t make the cut. I love the Gothic District, but it’s a destination. Not a home. Same with Raval, only less so. Poble Nou is a beach town on the end of a subway line, and while quiet and nice, it’s a little too small town for me. Areas like Sagrada Familia and Eixample feel too urban. They could be in any European capital. None of these have the “Only in Barcelona” and “The porridge is just right” vibe that I’m seeking.
El Born / Wellington
One of my current top choices. El Born is like the younger brother to the Gothic District. It’s still old as hell, and complete with many century old narrow alleys, but it’s also vibrant. It seems more of an artist’s destination. On the last trip, we seemed to find ourselves much more in El Born, sitting and eating because that’s where we just were visiting and shopping. Judging my pure muscle memory, this is where we found ourselves often.
Right there on an outer edge of El Born is a quiet neighborhood called Wellington. Complete access to the more urban portions, right alongside a huge central park, it’s a nice quiet location to start a life.
This area has just about everything. It’s central to any shopping or entertainment I could want, and has lots of outdoor restaurants. It’s quieter and less touristy. And it does have access to the subway, although it’s not as close to one as other barrios.
Downsides? I’m not sure yet. It’s an area I need to dig deeper into.
On the opposite side of the city center lies Poblesec. It’s an old, semi-industrial area. Super quaint, and the tourists don’t know about it. Filled mostly with working class folks, it has a great community feel. Close to the outer hills and transportation.
But it’s also pretty rough around the edges. Polished is not a word I’d use for it. Great cafes and shops, and almost 100% locals. But there is a grittiness to it I would need to ponder.
This is the last contender I’ve explored, and only recently. It’s very nice, but complicated. Part “could be anywhere” urban, part old time Barcelona community. On the far edges of the city, yet connected by just a short ride on the subway. Right next to the mountains.
I did like it, and would seriously consider it. But it’s also really not “Barcelona”. Not to me, at least not yet. It needs more searching and wandering.
And the Winner Is …
Well, none yet. At least not as of August 11th, when this was last updated. Stay tuned …
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