This trip was both a visit and a tour opportunity. The two aren't mutually exclusive, though details of a house visit would make for some pretty dull reading. I will say that as guides, my hosts went well out of their way to introduce me to Barcelona the city. I went to the Picasso museum and gobs of other "must-see" places both with and without them, and yes, I can say, I've been to Barcelona. Equally interesting, I also met friends and family, went to parties and clubs, and even saw the inside of a nursery school.
The guide books can tell you where to eat, but rarely do they know what they're talking about. Someone who lives in the city definitely does. I had some of the most outstanding tapas that I've ever tasted anywhere, as well as other types of excellent food. Catalan cooking is similar to other types of Mediterranean cooking, but here it gets particular fond-focus. There are only six deadly sins in this region of Spain gluttony being a virtue and you really have to struggle to get a bad meal.
Unlike New York or London, though, local cuisine is the best, and foreign food is kind of iffy. For instance, near the Museum of Contemporary Art there are Phillipine restaurants masquerading as Chinese for the credulous Spaniards. There's a cheap felaffel stand on the Rambla which wasn't bad after a night of live music. But on the whole, I would stick to what no one does better anywhere else.
The main thing that struck me about Barcelona is that it's a city completely devoted to design. All the people I met from Barcelona were in the design field, except for a few who were writers. I finally found out why. The place exudes style. This was a city where art nouveau flourished like nowhere else in Europe, and many of the buildings have ornate windows and balconies. In the newer (non-medieval) areas of Barcelona, the streets are wide and the buildings are substantial. The most obvious sign you're in Barcelona is the work of Gaudí. When Martian ships hover over Barcelona, you can hear the words, "Honey, we're home."
Architecture may be a serious pursuit, but so are fashion and food both people and plates are very well-presented. Though people are very interested in the interiors of their houses, it would be a shame to spend your whole life there. Going out is taken very seriously, and like elsewhere in Spain, it's absolutely inconceivable not to have friends. It's a very sociable sort of place.
And then, there's the art thing. You might have heard of a fellow by the name of Picasso, or a passing reference to someone by the name of Miró. Each is represented by a museum and other works, but obviously, they had circles of friends who also made substantial contributions. Perhaps the Contemporary Art Museum was recently eclipsed by the Guggenheim in Bilbao, but I can't imagine that they could reproduce the vibrant scene that produced all the art in the first place.
In short, this is a city that I could imagine myself living in. Life is very human, the people have a lot of character, and there's certainly enough to keep you interested.