Each time someone asks me, "what was your favorite city?" I make it ten million times harder on myself than it has to be. Really, I give the cop-out answer. All of them. I loved all of them, but in different ways. It'd be comparing apples to oranges.
And that's true. Each city I visited had a different effect on me, and I loved each one dearly in a very, very different way. But still, every time someone asks me that question... somehow, every single time, Barcelona pops up in my brain a few seconds quicker than any other city.
Perhaps it's because this is the view we woke up to each morning:
Or, because as California dwellers, the three of us were, frankly, sick of the dreary grey and drizzle we found in every other city. Barcelona welcomed us with delightful, bright sunshine, and a few palm trees on top. It was love at first sight, as I've ever known it.
Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, it could be because Barcelona was the first city to really push us out of our comfort zone. English? Nada. (Okay, maybe a little...) Spain was exotic and foreign, but warm and friendly and never without a smile.
Or, it could be because of this maaaaagical market - La Boqueria. I had heard lots of raves about it, but had planned to go on our second day. When we stumbled across it as it was closing down... my eyes were as wide as saucers, my stomach was even bigger. I took in all the vibrant, vivid colors and all the scents and accents and all the vendors selling fish or meat with one hand and sipping sangria with the other - I knew I had found a haven.
This street on the right literally looks like one in SF - the one right by the 4th and King Caltrain station, by the AT&T Park. Seeing this street prompted a deep yearning to be back in California, the first and last instance of true homesickness I felt while I was abroad.
Or, it could be because of all the amazing libations. This gin & tonic was easily the best gin & tonic I've ever had - although, it was so overpriced that I basically gave away an arm and a leg and a first-born child. And the sangria. Oh, the sangria.
Or, it could be all the delicious food we consumed. Food in Barcelona was easily the best food I had during my time in Europe. And our dinner on our first night at the Ceverseria Catalana (recommended by the lovely Nicole from La Mia Vita) was my personal favorite meal in Barcelona. So, was this my favorite meal in Europe? Perhaps it was.
I now have an unhealthy obsession with all things tapas. But I cannot be blamed. All the pan con tomate and patatas bravas and croquettes and cheeeeeese and little salty green peppers. Plus Spanish omelettes and chocolate chili lava cakes and laughter - lots of giggles - and serendipitous timing and two of the best friends one could have... I don't think you can top a meal like this.
Oh wait, yes you can.
You can because - this. This beautifully crafted vision - Casa Batllo - of Gaudi, is a stone's throw away from our hotel. Literally 'round the corner. So after that delicious meal - the one in which we kept on stealing the menu from the hostess's table behind us to continue ordering once, twice, thrice - a leisurely, slightly tipsy stroll around the block and getting to see this masterpiece... this truly can't be topped.