Festa Major de Gracia

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The annual Gracia Festival is not to be missed. The event of the summer holidays, Barcelona awakens out of deep summer slumber and the streets of Gracia come alive during August.

If you are in Barcelona during this time, the festivities are something to behold! If you are staying in the area, be sure to bring earplugs, or resign yourself to partying for a week, not such a bad thing to do in Barcelona!

The neighborhood associations of various streets in the barrio have been at work for months, preparing the massive street decorations. Each group competes for the illustrious prize of top street, and everyone eats, drinks and parties into the late night under a canopy of papiermaché and plastic decorations. There are concerts and various workshops in each of the areas, get hold of a map, and do an excursion to visit all the various attractions. You never know what you may find around the corner – a street turned into Jurassic Park or another into the cherry blossomed avenues of Japan.

pintxos barcelona street food

Pinxos in Poble Sec

pintxos barcelona street food

Part of the newest Hipster route, you know the one – filled with trend setting flower beards and horn-rim specs. Well not quite, although Calle Blai has blossomed, it still retains its colourful textures – Factory façades and a distinct Latino tone.

Welcome to Poble Sec. The barrio borders Montjuic and is a short walk from Las Ramblas. Slightly hilly it is home to the El Grec theatre and the Apollo theatre and the neighborhood boasts a distinctly colourful style. Nibbling on pintxos, at the various bars, requires a fair amount of co-ordination. Along the street we hopped, gobbling up pintxos like snapping turtles and gulping the house beer in each spot. Squeezing into tight spaces, our movements being more theatric as the evening wore on. It’s proved to be a great late afternoon’s activity. People watched, enjoy some rays on the terraces set up along the road, and talk about the food. Pintxos, literally translated as “Thorns”, each little tapa, or bite size snack comes with a longish tooth pick holding a tower of various flavours together on a slice of bread. This could be anything from a cube of spanish tortilla, a cherry tomato, a sliver of anchovy, a spiced pepper, a dash of sausage, sautéed onion, all wildy balanced and skewered by said thorn. The challenge is to get it all in your mouth, follow it by a slurp of your preferred beverage and then pick your teeth with a flourish at the end. If you cannot visit Basque Country in northern Spain, the original home of the pintxos do yourself a favour and organise a little tapas & pintxos journey in Poble Sec from Bar to Bar.

pintxos in barcelona

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Bicycle Anyone?

In Gracia alone there are not one but three bicycle themed restaurant-cafe-bars. Three! And that’s only in one small neighbourhood of Barcelona! There are plenty of other places where the bicycle can be stashed or stowed while you eat, or it’s spoked image is ubiquitous on the walls in the form of artwork or frame, parts on display. So what makes this form of bipedal transport so popular that it has rung it’s way into the heart of Barcelona, enough so that 3 cafes have made it their central theme. It’s classic form, geometric lines, gear and wheels have slowly but surely become a popular graphic symbol. Do you have a bike cafe in your city? When next you wend your way up to my neighbourhood, be sure to check out one of the following bike friendly spots.

Bicioci Bike Cafe
Carrer de Venus, 1-3
Barcelona, Spain
934 58 20 44
Serving up Pizza in the evening, this cafe has bikes on the walls and the bartender seems like the perfect caricature of the Italian cyclist, small cycling hat and all, he could have stepped out of the Triplets of Belville. They also offer weekend brunch.

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El Ciclista
C/Mozart nº18
Barcelona, Spain
933 68 53 02
A popular bar in Gracia, it’s small, gets jam packed, but serves up good music and delicious gin and tonics. The whole places feels like you are inside a miniature bike factory, from glass holding chandeliers made from bicycle wheels to the door which is opened by a deconstructed bike chain and various other bike parts.

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La Bicicleta

C/Verdi 65
Barcelona, Spain
931 28 14 16
Recently opened on ever popular Calle Verdi, this market produce restaurant, offers fresh goods in daily specials. Dine in their cozy cafe or enjoy the ever popular vermut while watching pedestrians pass by under their big blue bicycle in the window.

all photos courtesy each locale’s web page, title image by Enric Fradera, page image by Jai Kapoor