The inside scoop on Barcelona
As a seasoned traveller often great museums and tasty food as recommended by my guidebook no longer cut it. What I am looking out for is authentic experiences to allow me to see a country through the eyes of a local so I can leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for the place I’ve called home for a few hours, days or weeks.
On a recent trip to Barcelona I was lucky enough to participate in two amazing local experiences, which are without a doubt the most memorable part of my stay. Organised by a new type of travel company, Trip4real offers visitors opportunities to know Spain through unique activities organised and carried out by local people.
On Tuesday moning we were met by Joan, a local professional photographer who was to lead us on a tour of the beautiful Gothic area of Barcelona. He spent the morning sharing his vast historical knowledge of the area and at the same time leading us to the best (and often unknown) photographable spots in the city, as seen through the eyes of a professional photographer.
Joan also snapped candid photos during the tour so you have your own memorable shots of the experience to take away – something I almost never have as I am always behind the lens not in front of it. However, note to self, remember to brush your hair before hitting the streets with a professional photographer. Here are some of Joan’s snaps;
After all that walking we’d built up quite an appetite so it was time to head to lunch, at the house of Lluis, Roser and their son Matias. They are not trained chefs nor own a professional kitchen, just a family passionate about slow food, good living and meeting new people. We sat on their rooftop balcony for hours eat amazing tapas, risotto, and fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. The alcohol flowed and it felt like we’d known them for years and not hours – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so welcome in a “strangers” home and I know they enjoyed having us there as much as we enjoyed being there. Roser didn’t even speak a word of English yet it didn’t matter, she was so warm and welcoming that somehow we were never lost in translation. It is also important to mention at this point that Lluis makes the best Gin&Tonic I have ever tasted and ladies I’ve drunk a lot of Gin&Tonics over the years! I left San Gervasi, their neighbourhood, more content (and tipsy) than I’d felt in a while.
Jogging tours of Barcelona, personal trips to the best vintage shopping spots, homemade dinners in the houses of local people, customised mountain bike excursions, private flamenco lessons, photographic walking tours, bar crawls, bird watching, sailing trips … the list goes on to offer a whole variety of experiences for food lovers, sporty travellers, enthusiastic photographers, families and shopaholics. I was also really surprised how affordable the experiences were with prices range from €10 for a local tour of a few hours to €1000 for longer 5+ day experiences. The main focus of the project is Catalunya where they currently have 370 different experiences in Barcelona and more than 50 in Girona. However the project is growing fast and you can now partake in local experience all over Spain in cities like Madrid, Sevilla, Alicante and Valencia.
I left Barcelona richer than I arrived thanks to the amazing hospitality of a small group of people and even if it was for a little while, I felt like I was a local! Do you know of other local experiences in other countries outside of Spain – I’d love to discover other networks like Trip4real across the world.
P.S How cute are the girls from Trip4real – talk about backpacking in high heels!