I always wanted to live in a city at the beach with sunny weather. That is why I decided to move my home base from Berlin to Barcelona last summer. In the beginning, my plan was to stay longer than three months but then my pilot career changed everything. Read about my experience living in Barcelona and find insider sightseeing tips.
Luckily my former employee had an open base concept which allowed crews to live within Europe where ever they wanted to as long an airport was located in the vicinity. I have been to Barcelona many times during my journeys as a private jet pilot and I felt in love with this city right away. I was fascinated by the architecture, the people and the good vibes. Whenever I returned for a night stop I realized more and more that I could imagine living there. Last summer I fulfilled this. After a week on tour, I did not end in Berlin but in Barcelona with one suitcase. Hola Barcelona. It was a super strange feeling, but from the first minute, I already felt home.
I found a nice room in a big apartment on Idealista. It was completely furnished had an ensuite bathroom and the location was right in the heart of the old town called Barrio Gotic. The idea was to do a test phase of three months in this apartment since I have never lived in a shared flat before.
I lived in a really narrow (3 meters) street called Carrer Petritxol in a building which was over 700 years old. Compared to the tight construction of the houses the apartment was really big. Thousands of people moved through this street because it was one of the most beautiful and historic streets in Gotic. It was Picasso, who had his gallery on this street and it was Salvador Dali who had his coffee in a Granja café. It felt surreal to live at such a historic place.
The culture of Barcelona is so rich and the people are really proud of Catalunya. I was fascinated by the number of cultural events and that all age classes carry on the tradition. La Merce was the biggest and most spectacular festival I could attend. It is held in honor of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona. I watch the groups building their towers of human beings and watched parades of their famous oversized dolls. The festival ended with the correfoc (fire run), where people danced in fireworks. No joke. I was right with them.
My plan was to stay longer, but then my pilot career changed everything. I need to move back to Germany to start my job with the new employee and to do my type rating on the A300-600. I was sad on one hand, but on the other, I was happy about the big step in my career. Luckily I could spend the entire October in Barcelona without working. Personally, this was the most beautiful time. It was not too hot and not too crowded by tourists. This month I did things I always wanted to do. I went to have surf lessons two times a week and every second day I attended private Spanish lessons.
Barcelona is a great city to do sight seeing. Around every corner, you will discover something new. I recommend renting a scooter to do sight seeing but only when you feel comfortable driving in high traffic situations. Moto rent offers affordable prices. A scooter gives you so much freedom to go to different places in a minimum amount of time.
Barcelona is the city of Gaudi. His architecture is world famous. Unfortunately, the entry prices to most landmarks are quite expensive and the queues long. In my opinion, it is already enough to gaze the impressive exterior. Take a walk through the famous Parc Güell and have a fantastic view over the city. I visited the interior of the Sagrada Familia. I bought tickets at a hotel reception so I did not have to wait in line. A visit to the tomb of Gaudi in the crypt is for free!
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Take a stroll through the oldest part of town without any particular destination. Walk through Carrer de Petrixol. Stop at a famous Granja Dulcinea for a coffee or even a hot chocolate with churros. To have a spectacular view over Barcelona ascend the bell tower of the Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi.
My favorite part of town. Many restaurants, bars and boutiques in unique streets. Visit „El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria“ for free. It displays the old fundaments of the city and you can explore the history of Barcelona.
Turó del Carmel
A must visit if you want to have the best view over Barcelona and the sea. Turó del Carmel is a hill with a bunker on top located Best time is during sunset and sunrise.
Even three months were not sufficient to see everything of Barcelona. The city satisfies every interest. Culture, entertainment, and relaxation. I really loved to take a walk along the beach of Barceloneta during sunset. The atmosphere, the colors and the scenery are unique.
Don’t do that
- visit the La Boqueria on La Rambla (too crowded and touristic)
- be negligent with your valuables
- go too early to dinner most restaurants are still closed
- rely on taxis to get around in the city on the weekend
My healthy eating guide
As you know I am a foodie pilot and I am a big fan of healthy and tasty meals. Barcelona offers many diverse places and there is much more than tapas and paellas.
Teresa’s Carles: Vegetarian food and juices (only indoor/more for dinner) El Raval
Teresa’s: Vegetarian café with healthy snacks and juices (breakfast, brunch, lunch) El Raval
Flax and Kale: Healthy restaurant offering a diverse menu (best for brunch and dinner) Make a reservation and request a table on their outdoor rooftop garden El Raval
Petit Brot: completely raw café, daily menus and juices (breakfast and lunch) El Raval
Casa Gispert: Dried fruits, nuts and so much more. Best dried mangos I ever had. El Born
BeBo cold pressed: Tasty healthy juices, raw snacks (more for to go) Eixample
Chaitea house food: trendy restaurant with healthy meal options Eixample
Barraca: seafood and paella overlooking the beach of Barceloneta (lunch and dinner)
Cafè Jaime Beriestain: high-class food in a concept restaurant (more for dinner) Eixample
Nuba: fancy restaurant with live DJ, nice interior and outside seating (more for dinner)
My resume living in Barcelona
After three months in Barcelona, I love the city even more. I really enjoyed the Mediterranean lifestyle. Everything was a little bit more relaxed and when it got too hot shops closed for a siesta. Sometimes I had the impression that it was too crowded (mainly because of tourists) Catalan or Spanish are not a requirement to live in Barcelona. Since they are proud of the Catalan language they rather speak English with you than in Spanish.
Fantastic weather and a great variety of restaurants and cultural events are a big plus. Organic products and the lease for a nice apartment are quite expensive. To sum it up the quality of life is extremely high. Especially because a beautiful beach is only one-foot step away. My dream would be to live in Berlin and Barcelona!
What is your favorite city in Europe?
Your Pilot Patrick