Barcelona Travel Diary

It was 11 years since I first –and last– visited Barcelona; and I must admit, although I had a great time, the city did not leave the best impression on me. Back then, I felt it was too bohemian (see: hippie) for my taste. I went to Madrid in 2012 and, by comparison, thought it was a better fit for me.

Nevertheless, when Spanish bridal powerhouse Rosa Clará invited me to their city for Bridal Fashion Week, I was beyond excited to see how the capital of Catalunya had evolved during the last decade –and of course, beyond excited to relive the magical experience that is looking at wedding dresses!

It’s safe to say, Barcelona made me eat my words. Maybe, back in 2005, I was just there with too many tourists and not enough time. I was only there for five days at the peak of summer, and as a Barcelona rookie and tourist myself, I visited only the attractions that tourists go to; death tourist traps. Being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people under the blazing summer sun is not my thing and never was, but I couldn’t go to Barcelona and not see Park Güell, for example. Maybe, now I just know how to travel better. Maybe it’s a combination of all said factors; the season, the weather, the crowds or lack thereof… Being a traveller versus being a tourist. This time around, I was free to do the other, more local, activities that one might not have the liberty of pursuing during a first time visit. I had already seen all the Gaudí landmarks, the Mies van der Rohe pavilion (although it’s worth going to a million times more), the Barceloneta, the Ramblas (Never.Again.), etc. So now, I could wander through quaint little neighborhoods, visit the museums I never had the chance to see before, eat brunch, drink coffee at my own pace, do a little shopping, discover brands, read local publications and so on.

And wander I did! On my first day out, I visited the Joan Miró foundation. It was Tuesday and I arrived at around 11am when the line was just beginning to build up. In a manner of minutes, there were already about twenty people behind me waiting to get in. As I approached the counter, I read a sign advertising an “Art Passport” called ARTICKETBCN that allows one to skip lines and visit other museums at only 30€. I was planning on visiting most of its other participating institutions so I decided to purchase it. I highly recommend doing so because it’s much cheaper than buying each ticket separately and it saves tons of time. With it, you’re able to get into six museums including the Miró Foundation, MACBA, CCCB and Picasso Museum. All of which I visited, except the latter, unfortunately.

As for restaurants, Bodega 1900 blew me away. I found out about it months before my trip through Gwyneth Paltrow’s Instagram and I am not ashamed to admit it. Girl knows how, what and where to eat! I didn’t know then that I would have the chance to go some time later, but the logo and menu design featured in Gwyneth’s photo of Bodega 1900 struck me and when the time came, I remembered. That is one of the many reasons why design matters, folks! When in Spain, I would also suggest to visit one of Grupo Tragaluz’s many ventures; I had dinner at Mordisco, which is located next to Boca Chica, a really cool bar. So a fun plan could be to have dinner at Mordisco then drinks next-door. Caravelle and Trópico in El Raval are both great spots for brunch. Another breakfast place is Granja Petitbo. For coffee, one recommended shop is Nømad. Another is Satan’s, which was so good and the staff was really nice! There was one at the lobby of my hotel in a shared space with Mother, a juice bar. Which brings us to my accommodations.

Hotel Casa Bonay was incredible. It really felt like my home away from home in Barcelona. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. The food was amazing at both hotel restaurants; Libertine –the lobby’s “12 to 12” restaurant and bar– and at Elephant Crocodile Monkey; Casa Bonay’s dynamic “living restaurant” with a seasonal menu and a Vietnamese pop-up called Têt serving food every day at lunchtime. Every absolute detail is thoroughly designed and thought of at Casa Bonay. From uniforms, signage and menus; to bath products, wallpapers and furniture. It is a dream of a space!

As for shopping, I’m obsessed with perfume and candles, so whenever I travel I always look for a local perfumery or candlemaker. Les Topettes was great. Santa Eulalia on Passeig de Gràcia is the place to go if you’re looking for a multi brand luxury store. And right next door to it is a newly opened Céline boutique, the first in Spain. If you don’t want to spend as much, or you’d like to get more bang for your buck, a short walk down from Céline and Santa Eulalia is Inditex’s Uterqüe; Zara’s sophisticated, minimalist sister. And further down Passeig de Gràcia is Loewe, a must when in Spain. Even if you don’t shop, visiting the Barcelona store is an experience all on its own. The flagship is located within a historical landmark art nouveau building in the same block as Gaudí’s Casa Batlló. I was lucky enough to score a personal tour through the Loewe Panama team with the very knowledgable and kind Montse Dalmau, who was been working with Loewe for over 30 years and is so passionate about the brand’s heritage and history, as well as its current boom with JW Anderson. Her love for Loewe is contagious –as if I need another reason to want a Puzzle bag! Another great place is Wer-Haus; it falls into the “concept store” category of the shopping spectrum as it also sells objects, art books and publications, in addition to fashion. It also houses a café and gallery.

There are still many, many more things I didn’t get to do and places I wasn’t able to visit: La Boquería, El Nacional and Disfrutar are three places I didn’t get to eat at, for example. However, I’m happy to say Barcelona is now one of my favorite cities in the world. It charmed me in ways few places have in my lifetime and I’m looking forward to my next trip there, whenever that may be! Hopefully sooner rather than later! So thank you, Rosa Clará for taking me back to your mythical, Mediterranean city. I’m grateful beyond words!

Stay tuned for two more posts about my Barcelona travels. One is of course, the Rosa Clará bridal runway show and the other is a tour of Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill’s Walden 7 housing complex.

Thanks for reading!



Joan Miró foundation in Barcelona, Spain


The rooftop of the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain offers great views of the city and beautiful sculptures by the artist


The Joan Miró Foundation is one of six Barcelona museums you can visit with the 30€ Art Passport


Joan Miró Foundation is one of many museums you can visit in Barcelona, Spain


The Joan Miró Foundation is a great museum to visit with the whole family


Amazing architecture at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain


Sculptures set against the Barcelona skyline at the Joan Miró Foundation


Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain


The best tapas in Barcelona are at Ferrán Adriá's Bodega 1900


Bodega 1900 is a great Tapas bar in Barcelona by the Adriá brothers of El Bulli fame


MACBA is another museum you can visit with the Art Passport in Barcelona, Spain


Winding streets behind the MACBA in Barcelona, Spain


Baldessari and other artists at the MACBA in Barcelona, Spain


El Raval in Barcelona, Spain

Caravelle is a great little restaurant and brunch spot in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona

CCCB is a great space and center for art and photography in El Raval, Barcelona Spain


Wer-Haus is a great concept store, café and gallery space in Barcelona selling an amazing collection of art books and magazines


Wer-Haus sells a great mix of designer brands, fashion and art publications


Retail design at Wer-Haus in Barcelona, Spain, is simple, functional and fashionable

Retail design and decor at Wer-Haus concept store in Barcelona, Spain


Hotel Casa Bonay in Barcelona is beautifully designed and decorated and has a real homey feel, with Satan's Coffee, Libertine restaurant and Mother juices in the lobby area.


Attention to detail at Casa Bonay is as high as can be: custom books designed and printed to commemorate the construction and conceptualisation process of the hotel. The books are wrapped in custom fabrics and prints made for the hotel.

Libertine restaurant and bar in the lobby of Hotel Casa Bonay in Barcelona serves amazing food and cocktails and a great party atmosphere

Satan's Coffee in the lobby of Casa Bonay hotel in Barcelona

Plant decor in Satan's Coffee at Hotel Casa Bonay in Barcelona


Mother juice bar and Satan's Coffee in the lobby of Casa Bonay hotel in Barcelona


Inner patio in hotel Casa Bonay; all the rooms have natural light and quaint views


My room at Casa Bonay hotel in Barcelona, simply yet beautifully decorated


Bathroom design details at Hotel Casa Bonay in Barcelona

Front porch at Trópico restaurant in Raval, Barcelona has the cutest tropical decor


Restaurant decor at Trópico in Raval, Barcelona


Lovely emerald green mid-century chairs at Trópico restaurant in El Raval, Barcelona


Spanish leather heritage house Loewe is located in a historic art nouveau building in the same Passeig de Gracia block as Gaudí's Casa Batlló

Barcelona Mosaics in a historical Passeig de Gracia landmark buildingBarcelona mosaic craftsmanship and art outside of Loewe's Passeig de Gracia flagship

Historic Landmark art nouveau house where Loewe's Passeig de Gracia flagship is located

Commemorative plaque awarded to spanish leather luxury house Loewe

Loewe's Spring Summer 2016 collection

Gaudí's Casa Milá (a.k.a. La Pedrera) in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona

Photos by me. Made possible by Rosa Clará Spain and Panama.