By Sebastián Sáenz @sebastiaenz
There are very few paradises such as Barcelona. This city has everything you can ask for perfect holidays: beaches, warmth, friendliness, dancing, food, art, shopping, architecture, history and one of the broadest minded societies in Europe. An LGBTXYZ tourist is free to dress however s/he wants, and hold the hand of whomever s/he wants anywhere in the city. So, here’s the itinerary I have designed for the perfect rainbow brake:
One day should be dedicated to the splendor of Barcelona. First thing in the morning, a visit to the Basílica of the Sagrada Familia is in order, one of the most beautiful Catholic temples in the world, created by the famous designer Antoni Gaudí, and an established UNESCO World Heritage site. Right outside, at the Ciudadela Park, tourists can find the Monument for all the persecuted gays, lesbians and trans people. And in the afternoon, the Park Güell (location of America’s Next Top model Cycle 7 finale) is also mandatory, with an original design that harmonically combines color, nature and religion.
At night you should be hungry, so visit any traditional tapas restaurant at the city center, try and share as many as you can (savory, sweet, spicy, veggie, seafood, etc.), keep the toothpicks, and pay the total when you’re done! Can Paixano (also known as la Champañería) is cheap, crowded, delicious, small and hype; and guarantees that you won’t get out sober, hungry or bored.
The following day can be a road trip. A little outside of the city, to the Northwest, you will find the Montserrat Monastery, on top of the Montserrat Mountain, which includes legends and breathtaking natural views. On your way back to the city, stop at Cavas Codorniu for a tour at the sparkling wine house. If you prefer the Northeast (and if you’re ok with a longer trip), I strongly suggest the Salvador Dalí Museum-Theatre for those who adore the pieces of this crazy artist.
We all know a decent portion of the trip has to be dedicated to shopping. After all, Spain is the birth place of Balenciaga, Blahnik, Adolfo Dominguez, and Paco Rabanne; and Barcelona has been the home of designers Custo Dalmau and Estrella Archs. You will find boutiques and shops such as Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Zara Home, Uterqüe and Mango on every corner. The department store to go is El Corte Inglés. For the real touristic souvenir experience (and a little nice walk), Las Ramblas is splendid. The Mercado de la Boquería offers the best fresh food of the city. And Las Arenas Mall is fantastic, since it used to be a bullring plaza (how more Spanish can it get?).
At this point I believe we can agree some rest is obligatory. Barcelona has some of the best beaches of the continent, and even though non-heterosexual bathers are welcome anywhere, we tend to concentrate at Sitges Beach, 45 minutes to the West outside of the city. Don’t forget your sunblock and speedos!
At the end of the day, and fully recovered, of course a lot of you are thinking to go flirt with some hot locals (the perfect Mediterranean mix of European and Arabic) and see if those tongues can do the same to you as they do to the accent.
The gay district is located in the Eixample neighborhood (hence the nickname Gayxample). The place to warm up with a few cocktails is La Chapelle, and around 1 am it might be time to go to Arena Madre, with three floors of vibrant music, intoxicating hormones, and all the fun you expect from Cataluña.
Of course, a good rest is needed, and the bed of your dreams will be found at the posh Axel Suites, a must for our community. And finally, if you may, try to visit the city in time for the Arenal Sound Music Festival in August, even if you don’t like festivals, it’s the best time of the city.