I spent most of my time in Barceloneta. I really like that area. I hate to compare it to things because it is truly incomparable, but I think I really loved it in part because it reminds me of both the Marais in Paris and the East Village in New York. It's right by the beach, it's cramped, and it's homey. We hung out at these places called chiringuitos, which are little bars on the beach in little huts. Barcelona has the beach, it has its family neighborhoods, it has its historical and fantastic architecture, its fashion and hipster sections, and, above all, Spaniards and their love for everything. It is a city that is so many centuries old, with extraordinary architecture, history, and works of art around almost every corner. My whole take from the city was the chill-out pace. If you try and rush something, it will take you twice as long. Basically, live life now.
What did you do during the day?
If you have only one day, just get lost. It's the best way to discover any city. But if you have to go somewhere, Fundació Miró es la bomba. Or, anything that [Antoni] Gaudí built.
You could definitely get lost in Gaudí's wild and inventive architecture, which has become synonymous with Barcelona. What were your favorites?
The Casa Batlló is just so extraordinary. Basically, the entire motif of the building is a dragon being slayed. On the outside you can see that there seem to be skulls. It is the wildest thing. When you enter into it, the staircase is so phenomenal; the craftsmanship of the woodwork and the glasswork and just the design of it is breathtaking. In a lot of these buildings, Gaudí would make the central part of the buildings all light, like a courtyard. So there would be constant light coming into various parts of the house. The main thing is that people actually lived here. There was some super-duper rich guy who commissioned Gaudí to create numerous buildings, and this was one of his houses. It's mostly all empty, but you can go in and experience it. You can touch the banister. You can see the amazing fireplace, the unbelievable windows. I just love all the really supernatural, kind of underwater designs. It's amazing, because it's all ceramic tile, and it's like the scales on the back of a dragon. There's also La Pedrera, which is basically a Gaudí museum. The most remarkable thing about La Pedrera is the roof. I think he believed that every single part of a house should be beautiful. Oftentimes we fail to recognize the roof. The roof is just this amazing kind of strange, alien sand dune. What I love about his work is that it's constantly the most creative thing and always very, very new. It's just breathtaking. You can see the whole city from there.
Did you have a favorite place for lunch?
Kaiku has one of the best menus in the city. Every weekday they offer a selection of appetizers, entrées, desserts, and wine for a very good price - about eight to 12 euros. It's a beautiful, perfect place. Everything there is completely fresh, and it is a very homey atmosphere. I would not even be able to tell you what I ate. It always helps being there with Spanish people who can order for you. And there is El Vaso de Oro in Barceloneta, which serves tapas, specializing in la plancha [the grill].
Where's a good place just to walk around and enjoy the scenery?
Parc Güell is definitely one of my favorites. There is an indoor arboretum in the large park, which is a lovely place to sit, and there is a café/restaurant there to grab a bite to eat. You walk through basically what you imagine is a crazy kind of vision of a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house [designed by Gaudí]. It's just amazing - these tiles and mosaics, so colorful. That's what's so beautiful about the stuff: Everything is really colorful and very childlike. When you walk up, there's this salamander or lizard that is also in the mosaic, but it's in the fountain, in the center of it. There are usually beautiful musicians that are playing, and it's a wonderful way to experience it.