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April 19, 2017

Blogger Jasleen Gill’s Guide To Barcelona

Compiled by Tina Dastur

She shares her go-to neighbourhoods for retail therapy in this free-spirited city

There’s something very bohemian and off-beat about Barcelona, which definitely resonates with my personal aesthetic. It’s less haute couture and more casual and individualistic. This is as picturesque as any city can get, with its winding, narrow lanes and arresting architecture.

It’s stylish without trying hard. Everything will inspire you! From Antoni Gaudí’s surreal and other-worldly Sagrada Família and Park Güell, to the El Gòtic area, which seems to be frozen in time and Barceloneta Beach, where the young and beautiful come to work on their tans.

Its appeal lies in its people, who are friendly and fiercely free-spirited. I love that they eat meals for extended periods of time. Every Sunday, families will dress in their best and come out to their favourite tapas spots, where they sit in large groups to eat and drink traditional vermouth cocktails from noon till about 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. It’s not just Sunday lunch, but instead a gathering of generations over a good meal. Even during the week, siesta is a prolonged affair and taken very seriously, with mostly all shops closing around midday. Dinner, too, can go on for hours, which I find so luxurious. Barcelona doesn’t change its pace for anyone.

I make it a point to visit Mercat dels Encants, one of the oldest flea markets in Europe. You need to do some serious hunting, but will definitely find some cool stuff. The El Born and Gràcia neighbourhoods have lots of exciting clothing brands, concept stores, galleries and home decor shops. Passeig de Gràcia, on the other hand, has every high-street brand under the sun, plus luxury brands and local designers. It’s a good place to go if you have limited time and still wish to shop in Barcelona. And lastly, the La Boqueria market is a must for all things food and drink under one massive roof.

There are a lot of incredible home-grown labels. I particularly like a boutique called Blow for its vintage clothes and accessories, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada for its quirky ensembles, Oysho for cute swimwear and lingerie, Ivori for unique designer pieces, El Corte Inglés for department store vibes and a great cosmetics section, Santa Eulalia for a slice of luxurious history, Como Agua de Mayo for all things feminine, Etxart & Panno for true Mediterranean looks and Massimo Dutti for perfectly tailored pieces that will never look dated.

I cannot leave without visiting the El Born district at least once. It is a maze of the tiniest cobbled alleyways dotted with small, eclectic boutiques, antique treasures and the cutest bars and cafes. You’ll want to go into every shop you see because they’re all so beautifully decorated and give you the opportunity to find some one-of-a-kind pieces.

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