Walkable cities require practical sartorial choices. Barcelona is no exception, with shoe choice (and sunglasses) topping the list. The light frosting of dog shit on the city sidewalks, though, can deter even the most fashionable person from wearing on-trend footwear. It’s tempting to throw on comfy sneaks or the standard issue black boots. Resist the urge! Shoes are your biggest tell – what you wear on your feet reveals more than you probably want to about your personality, job, ambitions, preferences, emotions, and even spending habits. If shoes truly express our personalities, surely, they must be as eclectic as the people who wear them. We decided this warranted a bit more investigation and chatted up a few so you can choose the one that best matches your personality and neighborhood.
The Diva in L’Eixample
Pampered and posh Mufasa knows she’s a diva and expects you to treat her as such. She hails from a long tradition of exceptional Spanish craftsmanship and demands to wear only the finest satin and jewels. After all, she does come from the renowned house of Manolo Blahnik and only enters places that match her high-end tastes. Mufasa lives to shop in trendy Eixample. During the day, she frequents invitation-only, personalized shopping excursions at the upscale boutiques around Passeig de Gracia. Her nights are spent at the luxe Sir Victor Hotel bar, sipping champagne (not cava, mind you) with her friends Christian (Louboutin) and Jimmy (Choo).
The Party Girl in Poble Sec
Extroverted and loud Luna loves being the center of attention. Obviously. With her psychedelic combo palette of purple, bean green, sun yellow, and fuchsia, you can’t help but notice her. Luna can be quite the coquette though. When you give her that compliment she’s secretly hoping for, she’ll say it’s just a little something she threw together.
Luna lives for parties in Poble Sec, home to the famous Apollo theater. She rocks the tapas scene there late into the night, hopping along the bars on Carrer de Blai or munching on Barcelona’s best tequeños at Pasapalo bar. True to her name (moon in Spanish), Luna refuses to go home until the night is over and the sun comes up.
The Earnest Tour Guide in El Gotico
Your friendly tour guide, Panot, adores everything about Barcelona, especially “his” neighborhood, the Gothic. So much so in fact, that he asked his makers at La Manual Alpargatera to print the eponymous Panot tiles all over his canvas. He has a tendency to mansplain a bit, especially about Barcelona history, but it’s done so enthusiastically that you’ll just have to forgive him. He often recounts the story of how the Panot tiles came about: In the early twentieth century, Barcelona was known as can barro (barro means mud in Spanish) because of the great amount of mud that accumulated on the unpaved streets – a nickname that stuck until Casa Escofet covered the city’s sidewalks with the famous tiles.
The Relaxed Globalist in El Raval
Multi-culti Raval demands a shoe just as vibrant, rough, and edgy as it is. High heels fail miserably at chasing after cellphone thieves or dodging trash and puddles. Enter Erizo, an easy-going guy who takes El Raval in stride because he knows this Barcelona neighborhood is where life is at its most authentic and global. Cutting-edge exhibitions at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, bohemian bars, graffiti art, skaters, halal meat markets, international grocery stores, and dirty streets – Erizo rolls with it all.
Much like the animal he’s named after (hedgehog), Erizo prefers solitary evenings enjoying the spectacle that is life in El Raval. On Friday nights, Erizo grabs drinks at Betty Ford on Calle Joaquin Costa or heads to La Rubia on Calle Ferlandina to catch the monthly ‘Watch This Space’ improv show in English. His favorite spot to contemplate life, though, is the rooftop terrace of the Barceló Raval hotel; drinks aren’t cheap, but the view always helps cure his occasional existential crisis.
The Vegan Girlfriend in Grácia
Don’t be fooled by her glamorous exterior; Helga is a laid-back, vegan hipster. Her idea of a perfect night out is watching an indie movie at Cines Verdi, then buying a beer from the “cerveza-beer” guy in Plaza de Sol and hanging out until she and her hippy friends get kicked out by the guardia urbana. While Helga may slum it with friends, she definitely has high standards when it comes to the vegan lifestyle. She only shops at the organic food stores that have earned the Grácia neighborhood a reputation of being the Mecca of eco-friendly shopping in Barcelona.
The Businesswoman in Sants
As a public relations expert who is constantly traveling, Juddie needs to be versatile and well-connected at all times. Fortunately, living near the biggest train station in Barcelona allows her to conveniently travel anywhere at a moment’s notice. Even though the Sants neighborhood isn’t the most glamorous part of the city, Juddie cherishes its unique charm. Her Saturdays are spent shopping at the buzzing Mercat de Hostafrancs or sipping a vermut at any one of the many hip (and virtually tourist free!) bars on Plaça d’ Osca. Juddie’s anything but high maintenance when it comes to socializing. She loves a good craft beer at Homo Sibaris, followed by a bite at Lute Bar & Bowls; she swears they have the best bravas in Barcelona.
The Quiet Philosopher in El Born
Reserved and sober Ramona with her dark sense of humor comes across as British, but she’s got a very Spanish sole and a soft as lamb personality once you get to know her. She and her equally understated group of friends feel most at home in El Born, either walking its medieval streets or working their way through a leisurely brunch at Elsa and Fred while discussing their latest reads. Afterwards, Ramona frequently heads to Parc de la Ciutadella, but she finds it can get overwhelming at times, especially with the hippies playing bongos. That’s her cue to set off to one of the many wine spots in the area or el Mercat Santa Caterina for a change of scenery.
The Fickle Beach Babe in Barceloneta
As a Mallorca native, Alvesta loves the beach and, true to her roots, spends most of her time hanging out in La Barceloneta. Contrary to most locals, she has no problems with the tourist hordes in the neighborhood because she loves meeting people from all over the world and showing them around Barceloneta’s quaint, narrow streets and lively beaches. Alvesta jumps from one fleeting romance to another, as the “guiris” she falls for always end up leaving town. She can’t help being attracted to the foreign and exotic, but her friends suspect the real problem is her commitment issues.
The Pick Up Artist in Poblenou
Don’t be fooled by his traditional Derby looks. Randal is an emotionally unavailable womanizer — a player as it were. He may be elegant, with that seductive “proper British gentleman” allure, but he has rubber soles to run like Usain Bolt when romance begins to get serious. He prefers to lay low in Poblenou. The up and coming neighborhood is on the cusp of happening, but just not quite (yet). Former Poblenou factories have become offices for tech startups and you can see him walking the hallways in one, of course. Art and design showrooms, plus the multidisciplinary cooperative, La Bonita, sit just outside Randal’s tech startup, showcasing a revolving door of theatre, music, dance, and other performers.
During the hot Spanish summers, Randal heads to Bogatell Beach to play a bit of volleyball and pick up a couple of ladies easily smitten by his good looks to take them for a spin around Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes or the Barcelona Design Museum, before moving on to more romantic activities.
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