This post is part of our Inside Devour series. We work with some of the most passionate and talented guides in the country—make that the world!—and we’re thrilled to tell you their stories.
They say it only takes eight seconds to fall in love.
Usually, this refers to the moment when you fall head over heels for the love of your life, but for Victoria Batz, one of Devour Barcelona’s local experts, it only took eight seconds to know that she had fallen in love with Barcelona.
A Viking in Spain
Victoria comes from Halmstad, a Swedish town whose population could comfortably fit inside Camp Nou, the home stadium of F.C. Barcelona. Growing up, she says that she was a pretty picky eater—always asking for changes and substitutions to dishes she ordered at restaurants. So to some, the idea of Victoria moving to the non-stop, bustling streets of Barcelona to become a passionate foodie guide might seem unlikely, but after meeting her even just once, you’ll realize that she’s exactly where she belongs!
Spain always had a special place in Victoria’s heart, and she’d been coming here regularly for summer vacations ever since she was a child. She’d even lived in Madrid for a short time, and fallen in love with the city’s charm and the Spanish lifestyle. “There is a saying that people from Nordic countries live to work and that Spaniards work to live,” she says, “and there is a lot of truth in that saying!”
So, after moving back to Sweden and getting an office job where she regularly worked 12-hour days, Victoria knew that she needed more out of life. More than anything, she knew she wanted to get back to Spain, its culture, and–most importantly–its climate!
Deciding to take a six-month sabbatical from her Stockholm-based marketing job, Victoria set to work designing her grand return to the sun of Spain. Although she originally had her sights set on Madrid, a friend living in Barcelona offered up a different idea: a six-month apartment swap! Five years later, Victoria has never looked back.
“Everything’s better with a glass of wine!”
According to Victoria, Barcelona has everything. The Mediterranean is at your feet, there are dense forests that brush the outskirts of the city, and in winter there is world-class skiing just a short drive away. Not only that, but Barcelona is well-known as Spain’s very own city-that-never-sleeps, with something always happening in one of its colorful and unique neighborhoods. And while she may have started off life as a picky eater, today there’s no dish that Victoria won’t try at least once!
“Food was always central in my family,” she says. “I thought all families enjoyed food the same way we did, and had the same interest in food. It was when I discovered they didn’t that I realized that I liked food more than my friends did.” A self-confessed foodie, anyone lucky enough to have Victoria as a tour guide will find that this passion can be contagious!
The passion extends to wine, too. “Everything gets better with a glass of wine in my hand,” she remarks. “Working overtime? Pour yourself a glass of wine. Have to do the dishes? Pour yourself a glass of wine. Watching a beautiful sunset? Order a glass of cold white wine to go with it.” Victoria’s friends know best that she can usually be found at her favorite wine bar in the city, Bodega Maestrazgo.
Moving the conversation back to food, Victoria is also a big fan of paella. While many Spaniards debate the origins of this delicious rice dish, Victoria focuses on what’s more important: tracking down the best places to eat it Barcelona. Her list includes Cheriff, Terazza Martinez, and Beso in the nearby beach town of Sitges.
Taking Catalonia to the Swedes
After having spent so much time helping visitors to understand the delicious food and drink of Barcelona, Victoria is now setting her sights once more on Sweden. “I’m working on getting my own TV show about Spanish gastronomy in Sweden,” she explains. “Spanish gastronomy is a bit misunderstood by Swedes, and I want to show them the beauty and the pride of this country; its heritage and the food.”
We were wondering if this meant we’d soon be losing Victoria to her home country, but she put us at ease when she told us about the moment she knew she was meant to stay in Spain:
“After six months of living in Barcelona, I had to decide whether I wanted to stay after my sabbatical or if I wanted to go back to my ‘old’ life in Stockholm. I remember the second I realized that I had to stay. I still can’t explain why, I didn’t have anything tying me to Barcelona, but I just knew I’m supposed to be here.”
Take your time and explore
So, what tips does our passionate Barcelona expert have for anyone traveling to the Catalonian capital? “Don’t rush it; let things take time. And make sure to explore outside of the old part of the city. Go to Gracia, Poblenou, Sants and Poble Sec and you will see different sides of Barcelona.”
If you want to see Victoria’s Barcelona, follow her lead for a perfect day in the Catalan capital: “a sunny day in January when I can sit outside and sip some cava while watching the ocean!”