travel

{take me away № 19 | barcelona, spain}

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The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona has a history that dates back long, long ago—2000 years ago, in fact, with a spellbinding vibe of light, passion, culture and character.

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Here, somehow, the heavenly Mediterranean sunlight is seemingly more delicious when set against beguiling architecture, narrow alleyways, expansive waters, and in the gleam of each and every Barcelonian’s eye.

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Indeed, this seaside city calls visitors from near and far to walk alongside the works of great visionaries, of natural wonders, breathtaking points, and countless sights; to live as locals do, and to breath in the beautiful story of such an indescribably fascinating city . . .

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Our eyes would, without a doubt, memorize the signature curvatures of Gaudi’s architecture, with visits to Casa Milà, particularly in the evening, when one can look up from the base of the atrium to the night’s clear blue sky.

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And indeed, in the summery breeze, with ice cream in hand, we might visit Poble Espanyol — a small Spanish village — and take a stroll through the different quarters that replicate the style of houses and architecture from different parts of Spain, and perhaps, purchase an item or two, handcrafted, of course.

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Perhaps we would enjoy a day in the water, and walk along the beach, followed by an evening at the theatre . . .

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. . . or make our way down Barcelona’s most famous Street, Las Ramblas, and head to the Picassa Museum [amongst many to visit].

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And after a beautiful day, with memories of the festival, maybe a market or two, and delicious cuisine, we might stand out on the balcony, back in the comfort of our suite, with a glass of wine, and gaze at the city, remembering fondly, the sights, tastes, and sounds of Barcelona . . .

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where-to-stay


01 | El Palace

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A stunning, award-winning, five-star hotel of pure luxury and elegance, that has been completely refurbished and opened once again in late 2009, El Palace is set in the heart of the city centre, close to Las Ramblas and in the most prestigious shopping area; it is surrounded by stunning architecture, boulevards, theatres and much more.

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The 125-room hotel includes suites overlooking the Gran Via, sumptuous furnishings, L’Occitane toiletries in the bath, and even a lovely fireplace dating back to the early 1900s. From the curtained entryway to extra special service and unique spa, no detail has gone amiss. And with a firm belief that luxury is in the details, El Palace proves to be one of the most flawless and authentic experiences in Barcelona.

02 | Hotel Praktik Rambla

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A wonderfully contemporary and fresh boutique hotel, with just 37 rooms, Praktik Rambla is perfect for those who appreciate design and authentic local architecture. Rated the 3rd best hotel in all of Barcelona in 2010, Hotel Praktik Rambla is located in the Eixample district, in the heart of the city and amidst many exciting attractions. With its decadent hundred year-old ceilings and floors, combined with clean lines, and bits of refreshing green decor, the combination is no less than perfect.

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Guests may also enjoy the hotel’s spacious library, which contains architectural sketches, drawings and original buildings, including the historic palace that is Hotel Praktik Rambla. You may also enjoy the lovely and fragrant terrace, complimentary wi-fi and camera, and many more features, Praktik Rambla is a surprisingly well-priced hotel that is sure to welcome, inspire and delight.

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03 | La Garriga de Castelladral

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Located just an hour outside of Barcelona, La Garriga de Castelladral is the perfect escape for those who wish to visit the city, but prefer a quiet and charming accommodation, outside of the hustle & bustle. This country retreat seems much further away from the city than one hour, and provides perfect tranquility and relaxation. This amazing, eight-room medieval stone building dates back to the 15th century and was built with natural materials and fabrics, creating a truly unique and tailored experience. The hotel has also been commended for its sustainability.

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above: at La Garriga de Castelladral, October 2008

When staying, guests can enjoy the terrace, outdoor dining areas, tranquil pool, gourmet cooking with organic ingredients [many of which have been grown in their own garden], tour the beehives and the wine cellar, and more; an accommodation so captivating, you may never want to leave . . .

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where-to-eat

01 | Blanc Restaurant and Lounge

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Located in the Mandrin Hotel [another much talked about, central accommodation] one can linger in over-sized mamasan chairs, enjoying a cup of coffee from fine German porcelain, and take in the wondrous interior design as well as the glass ceiling and hanging garden above. Soft colored, intimate seating welcomes guests, and refreshing white ornate carved panels encompass the restaurant [above], giving it a light and bright ambiance. As for their menu, “Mediterranean cuisine and fresh produce are the cornerstones of Chef Jean Luc’s vision for our contemporary, all-day-dining brasserie.” Delectable plates such as Steak Tartare, Iranian Caviar and much more are a few of the exquisite items on the menu. And in the evenings, the ambiance shifts entirely, to allow the moonlight to make its way into the dining area, with soft candlelight and music . . .

02 | Arola

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A chic restaurant that is situated on the second floor of Barcelona’s Hotel Arts, right on the beach, Arola has two Michelin stars and one of the world’s greatest chefs; the restaurant features both authentic and lovely Catalan cuisine. Chef Sergi Arola creates a sophisticated array of tapas made for sharing and tasting, and Mediterranean dishes that mix innovative and traditional ingredients. The Arola’s décor is a wonderful intermingling wamr leather and glittering glass, mixed with vibrant splashes of green and purple, and live DJs each evening.

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Opened in 1986, El Racó d’en Cesc is situated right in the heart of the city. With an intimate and cozy atmosphere of lovely neutrals, stone, and red, this fine and award-winning dining experience [with private rooms available] is truly one not to miss. Guests can enjoy modern Catalan cuisine, with subtle touches of innovation, and wonderful service that is sure to please even the most particular. Additionally, there is an exclusive wine cellar with over 350 fine wines and beer, carefully selected from all around the world.

what-to-pack
what-to-pack
classic trench coat // oscar de la renta lace & linen dress // chloé to go // by terry lip balm // jill stuart shoes // anita ko star 14-karat gold diamond necklace // 3.1 phillip lim pashli satchel //porselli ballerinas


Lastly, a few additional links you might also enjoy : stop in at El Changuito for some one-of-a-kind finds & Julie Sohn for a unique boutique experience | try incredible chocolates or macarons at Santa Eulalia’s café | pick up a pair or two of pretty ballerinas | & a fun little guide for language basics

{p.s.} also : the cherry blossom girl’s guide to barcelona

[images: one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine // ten // eleven // twelve // thirteen // fourteen // fifteen // sixteen // seventeen // eighteen // nineteen // twenty // twenty-one // twenty-two // twenty-three // twenty-four]

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Sarah Klassen
Contributor, Vancouver

Even as a girl, Sarah spent hours curling up with her mother in their home library, exploring fashion and décor magazines, reading Jane Austen novels, and looking through beautiful books. Educated in design and marketing, Sarah has a great deal of experience in the realm of design, decorating and retail. She enjoys writing, travel, bike riding, boutique shopping, and exploring her beautiful city with her soul mate. Considered approachable and warm, if you meet her on the street, she’s likely to engage you in lively conversation.
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