By: Kylie Condon
Lez Explore: Barcelona
I was delighted to spend my next leg of the trip in one of Spain’s most beautiful costal cities, Barcelona. Beyond its alluring beaches and distinctive Catalonia culture, Barcelona is also known for having a colorful and proud LGBTQ community. My timing in Barcelona worked out perfectly because I was able to catch some friends in town and it just so happened to be Barcelona Pride weekend. I was eager to partake in the festivities but first, I wanted to explore Barcelona’s rich art scene.
Barcelona is known for its impressive art and architecture, once housing several renowned artists who all left their unique marks on the city. I was eager to feel inspired by a city that has influenced so many legendary artists. While in Barcelona, you’re bound to run into something that was designed by modernist architect extraordinaire, Antoni Gaudí. One of those something’s is Park Güell - a mosaic playground. Beyond the endless mosaic, Park Guell also has breathtaking views of the city. If you’re less into mosaic and more into extravagant churches, Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia is a must see. The majestic church is surprisingly still a work-in-progress with a projected completion date of 2026… just a short 100 years after Gaudí’s death. The design is definitely complex, but the slow construction is mostly due to the Spanish Civil War, which temporarily halted the project. Pro-tip: if you plan to go inside, make sure you’re dressed appropriately as it is a Church and the guards enforce a strict, conservative dress code. One that definitely didn’t jive with my 90-degree weather, summertime explorer outfit.
You can’t mention art in Barcelona without naming Pablo Picasso, who spent a good portion of his life here. The Museu Picasso houses an extensive collection of the artist’s work from his blue period to his abstract cubism. You can also learn about his life in Barcelona and see firsthand what an influence the city had on his work. For the full Picasso experience, make sure you hit up and old haunt of his called Els Quatre Gats, which is still a functioning café to this day. After soaking up the beautiful art, I was ready to soak up the sun and sip some sangria.
With its perfect location on the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, taking advantage of Barcelona’s water activities is a must. My friends and I decided to go on a “Party Boat” that we found on trip advisor (there are zillions of these) because, why not? We arrived at the beach a bit early so decided to grab some sangria at a nearby restaurant on the pier because it’s never too early for sangria. The pitcher was large and the pours were deliciously refreshing. As one does after consuming generous amounts of alcohol, we lost track of time. Realizing we were going to miss our boat, we did what any tacky American tourist would do- got our sangria in to-go cups.
The boat was a large catamaran with passengers from all parts of the world. The water was a little rough that day so a few passengers got a bit seasick. Maybe our pregaming the party boat with sangria helped, but my friends and I were virtually unaffected by the choppy waves. Naturally, we took full advantage of the bar and beautiful Barcelona views as pasty British bros vomited off the side of the “party boat.”
We were excited to reach land and head over to the pride festivities. Barcelona Pride has become one of the most popular pride celebrations in Europe with more than 200,000 attendees every year. I’d imagine its idyllic location on the Mediterranean definitely plays a role in its popularity. Our first stop was “festival village” in Plaza España or Moll de la Fusta. Similar to other pride festivals, there were booths full of food and alcohol as well as exciting performers on stages. There was an impressively diverse turnout from both the LGBTQ community and allies alike. One of my favorite events was the High Heel Race… which is exactly what it sounds like. After exploring the festival, we continued our partying late into the night at various “discotecas” in the area.
The next morning we were all expectedly hung-over. My friends decided to take a breather and sleep off the hangover, but I was determined to experience Barcelona Pride to its fullest and attend the main event, the “Pride Demonstration and Parade.” I was able to catch the parade, which goes through the heart of Barcelona, on Las Ramblas before it headed back to Plaza España. There were colorful floats carrying cheerful spirits and bumping out bangers. At this point, I had heard “Despacito” so many times that I thought I could almost understand Spanish. The more likely explanation was that I was still drunk from the night before so I decided to head back to my Airbnb and sleep off the hangover. After all, the city would still be there in a couple hours ready to party with every letter of the LGBTQ community proudly represented.
**To follow Kylie and see more travel photos, follow her on Instagram @kyliegurrl