The How You Living Interview Series: Barcelona, Spain

I wanted to try something new, so I created this interview series dubbed “How you living?!” that will feature glimpses of city living through the lens of some friends of mine. Hopefully 10 to 13 questions are enough. This week, we’re in Barcelona, the city of Picasso’s early years, to discover the fantastic food, nightlife, architecture, and the “perfect weekend”!! Enjoy the interview and leave a comment using your Facebook or Twitter account!

Interviewee: Nicole Harper
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

The Interview

Phil Rodriques (PR): Where are you originally from?
Nicole Harper (NH): I’m from Hamilton in Ontario, Canada – fondly referred to by locals as “The Hammer”.

PR: Why did you move to Barcelona?
NH: While researching my masters thesis in Sweden, I learned about an urban innovation startup called Citymart that was doing really cool things in civic tech. They were hiring at the time, so I applied and got the job – the fact that they were located in BCN [Barcelona] was a total bonus!

PR: What’s the best part about living in Barcelona?
NH: Oh man, it’s difficult to choose among so many perks: unbeatable Mediterranean climate, a simultaneously relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, gorgeous natural surroundings and stunning architecture… and all of it surprisingly affordable! But best of all, I think, is that there is always something fun and interesting going on – it’s impossible to get bored here.

PR: What’s the worst thing about living in Barcelona?
NH: It can be difficult to find well-paid work – the average wage is pretty low here compared to the rest of Western Europe.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: Barcelona is known for its architecture. What’s your favourite historic building(s)?
NH: I love the Palau de la Música Catalana – the thing is an absolute fairytale, especially at dusk. See a show there, because the interior is even more stunning than the incredible façade!

PR: What would you describe as the “perfect weekend” in Barcelona?
NH:  I’m going to assume you spent the week seeing the typical touristy sights like Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia and describe a local’s perfect weekend to you instead! Here we go: Friday night starts in Poble Sec for post-work tapas on Carrer Blai – La Tasqueta is my favourite place! To really start the party, head to El Rincon del Cava and get your photo on the wall of fame (which happens to cover the entire restaurant!) End the night with dancing at Apolo’s Nitsa Club or Barts.

Saturday is beach day, but there’s a secret catch: the further from the city you go, the better the beaches get 😉 After getting your swim and tan on, check if there are any vintage markets like Lost and Found, Brick Lane or Palo Alto – you’ll get to shop from local designers and sample lots of yummy street food in one go! For dinner, head to Gracia and try some hearty traditional Catalan food at Cal Boter. Dance the rest of the night away at Razzmatazz in Poblenou – with 5 rooms to choose from, you can’t go wrong! Recover on Sunday with a leisurely brunch at Picnic or Brunch and Cake, and then head up to Montjuic for Piknic Electronik – the ideal way to end a perfect BCN weekend like a local!

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: What neighbourhoods in Barcelona would you say have the best places to eat?
NH: All of them! Seriously. With the exception of maaaaybe Poblenou, you can’t really go wrong. Just avoid places showing giant menus with photos of the food outside – that’s a big red flag. And don’t eat on La Rambla. Just don’t do it.

PR: Where are the best places to go for the nightlife experience?
NH: Razzmatazz and Sala Apolo are legendary! There’s also La Barceloneta with a ton of more mainstream places like Opium and Carpe Diem. In Eixample you have Bling Bling, Sutton and Otto Zutz. One of my favourites, though, it is a hole in the wall called Magic, where they play oldies and soul!

PR: Where’s your favourite part of the city and why?
NH: I just love my barrio [neighbourhood], El Born. It strikes just the right balance of bohemian elegance – full of cool bars, interesting hangouts and right next to the beautiful Ciutadella Park.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: How do you get around the city on a daily basis?
NH: Barcelona is super walkable, but my main mode of transportation is Bicing – the public bike sharing system. They’ve recently introduced electric bikes, which I’m excited to try!

PR: What’s the most horrific or memorable thing you’ve seen since living there?
NH: The Fiestas de La Mercè are totally crazy. Human towers, giants and TONS of fireworks. Everywhere. There are still holes in my clothes from the flying sparks! More fun and memorable than horrific though, promise.

Photo credit: Nicole Harper
Photo credit: Nicole Harper

PR: Tell us one stereotypical thing about Spaniards that’s true.
NH: They really do eat dinner at around 10pm!

PR: What’s the one thing every visitor must do before leaving Barcelona?
NH: See the façade of the Sagrada Familia – it’s out of the way, expensive to go inside and the crowds are maddening, but at least look at the Passion Façade and be fully awestruck for a moment or two.