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View of Barcelona from Gaudi's whimsical Park Guell. (Photo: Michael Colwell/My Shot)

Jessica’s Barcelona

Travel and lifestyle writer  Jessica Benavides Canepa has been living in Barcelona for two years, but is going to be spending the next year of her life traveling around China and writing about her experiences. To bid adéu siau to the city she’s come to love, she sent Intelligent Travel her top picks for sight seeing, eating out, getting lost in Barcelona’s late-night frenzy, and more. Check out her favorites, then add your own in the comments section below.Check out Jessica’s travel site and follow her as she explores Asia on Twitter @JBCanepa.Barcelona is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the animated El Born District where plenty of trendy shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars abound.

When I crave a local meal, I always go to Cerveceria Catalana for inventive tapas, montaditos (small sandwiches filled with an assortment of local goodies), and a wide selection of imported beers.

Sagrada Familia sand castle. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)

To escape the heat during the summertime months, I head to the beautiful beaches of Platja de Aro along the Costa Brava coast.

If I want to treat myself, I book a revitalizing massage at the Six Senses Spa located in the Hotel Arts, near the foot of the Olympic Village.

For complete quiet, I can hide away for a few hours at Plaça de St. Felip Neri, a remarkably serene square right in the middle of the old town. This tranquil location hides a rather sinister past.

If you come to my city and want to capture a unique shot, get your picture taken with a lion at the base of the Columbus Monument.

Don't miss the caesar salad at Fastvinic. (Photo: Eugeni Pons)

If you have to order one thing off the menu from the eco-friendly Fastvinic restaurant, it has to be the fresh and tasty caesar salad.

Happy Pills is my one-stop shop for all things candy-related.

Locals know to skip La Rambla during tourist season and check out Rambla de Catalunya with its tree-lined passageways and outdoor eateries instead.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I pack a light picnic and head to the Passeig Maritim in Barceloneta for a day of rollerblading, sunbathing, or people-watching.

When I feel like really splurging, I go to Michelin-starred ABaC Restaurant for a fantastic gourmet meal.

Inside ABaC restaurant. (Photo: Marco Pastori)

The best photo ops in my city include posing in front of the iconic Sagrada Familia basilica or the frenzied colorful beauty of  La Boqueria Market. The best vantage points for panoramic photos are from the hills of the Montjuic Mountains near the whimsical Poble Espanyol village – a wondrous open-air architectural representation of the most famous monuments around Spain.

If my city were a celebrity, it’d be Lionel Messi. Barcelona boasts one of the finest football teams in the world – and views its valuable players as the very best the city has to offer.

The most random thing about my city is the streets and squares themselves. Everywhere you turn, you’ll come across vibrant pieces of original artwork on the lampposts, benches, and even the ground — all reminders of Barcelona’s Modernist architectural past.

My city has the most fashionable eyewear collections for men.

My city has the most outspoken and independent women.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves running, swimming, sailing, biking — in short any sport that can be enjoyed in the usually pleasant Mediterranean weather.

My city’s best museum is the MNAC (National Art Museum of Catalonia) which features impressive classical and modern artwork as well as a palatial façade built for the 1929 World’s Fair. Another great thing to do in this area is witness the delightful Magic Fountain and its charming “aquatic” concert.

My favorite jogging/walking route is the hilly paths around Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent Park Güell.

The W Hotel, home of Eclipse. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)

For a night of dancing, go to CDLC, Sutton or Eclipse for the best house DJs in town. During the summer months, many of the ocean front clubs are also great for party hopping such as Shoko and Opium Mar.

To find out what’s going on at night and on weekends, read Time Out Barcelona or Metropolitan Barcelona.

In the spring, you should experience a traditional Catalan calçotada which consists of getting together and eating large quantities of local green onions known as calçots along with romenesco sauce, regional wine, and good company.

In the summer, you should attend the Sonar Music Festival – an amazing gathering of the best musical acts from the world of advanced music and media art.

In the fall, you should visit the award-winning wine regions of Penèdes and Priorat for some memorable harvest-time wine tastings.

In the winter, you should go skiing in the tiny principality of Andorra just a few hours away.

A wine cellar in Penedes. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)

A hidden gem in my city is the cool, bohemian feel of the Gracia District.

For a great breakfast joint, try Milk, a funky eatery that also serves a delicious brunch on Sundays.

Don’t miss the Sant Joan Festival in June for its uproarious celebrations and fireworks displays.

Just outside my city, you can visit the breathtaking Montserrat Mountains featuring its world famous boys’ choir.

The best way to see my city is on foot. Get lost in the mysterious side streets of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), shop and discover the monuments on the fashionable Passeig de Gracia, or take a casual stroll through the old fisherman’s area, Port Vell.

If my city were a pet, it would be a salamander like the one made famous by celebrated architect Antoni Gaudi.

Port Vell. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)

If I didn’t live in the city, I’d live in the scenic port town of Sitges, which is only 30 minutes away from the city by train.

The best book about my city is Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, a thrilling mystery novel set in post-Civil War Barcelona.

The best movie about my city is Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Sitges, Spain. (Photo: Jessica Benavides Canepa)

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Barcelona” from the late great Freddie Mercury and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballe.

You won’t want to miss a football game at Camp Nou. Even if you are not a big fan of the sport, the level of excitement and sheer size of the stadium is a sight to behold.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it is arguably the most cosmopolitan city in Spain in terms of culture, cuisine, and activities.