While searching for an apartment online, we learned that the Gothic Quarter, or Barri Gotic, was a central and vibrant place to stay. Despite some minor inconveniences, we were very happy with our 7 days in the heart of Barcelona.
Our first surprise came when the taxi driver hadn’t heard of our street (Baters street) and then couldn’t let us off in front of the apartment after he had found it on his map. He pulled over, smiled politely and pointed up a narrow “alley” which turned out to be a street into the maze of the inner section of Barri Gotic. Only then did I remember that this section of town was restricted to pedestrians. Barri Gotic is a mish-mash of medieval buildings, placas (or squares) and pedestrian streets (well, most of the time, though an odd truck, car or motorcycle did make its way through the people every once in a while.) No matter, our duffle bags on wheels were easy to pull over the coble stone streets and we set off in the direction the cabbie had pointed. Unfortunately our street was not listed in either guidebook, but luckily for us, two city street cleaners helpfully redirected us to where we met the apartment contact. (see my Tango apartment entry for more information about the great apartment we found!)
Barri Gotic is a lively place, filled with shoe, jewelry, clothes, and more shoe shops. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants, it is a very nice place to stay. From about 10 am (when stores open) until 8.30 pm (when stores close), the area is humming with people and activity. But at 8.30 the crowds shift from shoppers to eaters and theater goers and things quiet down, only to pick up again around 11 when people walk home from dinner, and again around 2 or 3 am as bars close. Our little street was fairly busy until 2 am when the street noised eased into stillness, disrupted only by the garbage and recycling trucks and the street cleaners.
None of the streets run parallel to each other, and I was still occasionally lost even after six days. (Usually I am pretty good with directions, but the streets stumped me in Barri Gotic. Perhaps it was the perpetual wine and food coma, I don’t know) The streets generally converge on plazas and it was great fun to turn the corner and see a beautiful and unexpected cathedral, or majestic courtyard. This area is also known for its restaurants. We had a great meal at La Taxidermista near Placa Real (See my entry.) The noise in this area is significant, even in November, the off season, so if you are a light sleeper, look elsewhere.
We both thoroughly enjoyed staying in the heart of Barcelona, and can recommend this area highly.