Guide Spotlight: Montse – Barcelona

April 13, 2023

In this blog series, we get up close and personal with some of Walks’ guides around the world. While this blog is usually dedicated to Italy, during this time we decided to open up the space a little, and showcase some of the amazing people who take Walks with us from Rome to New York. Having recently launched Tours from Home, we hope this blog series will add another bit of travel inspiration to your life – hearing from the men and women who inspire us and Walks guests around the world!

In this post we have Montse Marquès Fernadez, our local guide in Barcelona.

Montse, tell us a bit about yourself:

I graduated in Audiovisual Communication and I did a Masters in script writing. For many years I’ve been combining tourism jobs with performing arts, cinema and theatre plays. Two fields that apparently have nothing in common have actually really inspired my style as a tour guide. You can discover a city as if you were watching a movie, and you use visual poetry and narrative in the way we talk about the city! I’m interested in art, history and culture in general and I’m constantly learning new things which helps keep my tour content informative and engaging (hopefully!).

What are you doing/studying in this period? 

I’m improving my French and learning about Art History at the same time – I’m also watching documentaries in French about art on Youtube, all while practising my singing skills, of course! With all the news and information that we’re getting these days, singing is a great way to relax and unwind from stress.

What’s your favorite story to tell guests on a tour?

My favourite story, among all the stories we talk about when we visit Barcelona is about Gaudí’s life – Gaudí and Barcelona belong together. The city wouldn’t be the same if this architect hadn’t moved to Barcelona when he was only 16. His works, his masterpieces are part Barcelona’s DNA.

What’s your all-time favorite piece of art?

I know it maybe seems biased to say the Sagrada Familia, the most famous building in Barcelona… but I realise now that I can’t go there, how much I miss it. As you can imagine, for my work I’ve been there many, many, many times, but I never get tired of it because everyday I see it with new eyes, there really is that much to admire. I love to see people’s faces the first time they enter – depending on the light, the time of the year, the building changes as if it’s a living being. There’s no photo that can picture what it’s like, you have to experience it.

What’s your favourite neighborhood in Barcelona?

It is difficult to say which is my favourite neighborhood, it depends on the moment and for what. If I had to choose one I’d say Poble Sec, it’s wonderful for tapas, it has a great vibe and it’s attached to Montjuïc mountain, the green lung of Barcelona, where there’s many gardens to walk around and amazing views.

As a tour guide, what is your biggest challenge during this period? 

I miss a lot not being able to be outside, meeting people from all different places, sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge: I enjoy to learn things from the people who comes to Barcelona and decides to take a tour to me is like travelling without leaving my city. I realize how much I love my job now that I’m not able to do it. That’s why during this time I’m learning new things to improve as a guide.

How do you see the travel industry evolving during and after this time? 

At the moment, everything it’s very incertain. Maybe we’ll have to reinvent a little ourselves, as it’s not possible to travel physically we will have to find a way to travel virtually! We can learn things from all this, when there’s restrictions it’s when people finds some amazing creative solutions. I think that little by little the situation will improve and we will be able to travel again implementing new products and new ways developed during this time of restrictions.

Outside of your home city, what is your favourite place in the world to visit?  

When I was at University I studied a semester in Copenhagen, so part of my heart is Denmark. I’d love to visit it again, in Summertime the light is wonderful, I love that everybody moves around by bike. I’d like to be how much is changed, now that I’m older I’d look everything with different eyes. If you are a foodie it’s a wonderful place to visit.

Where would you love to travel to next? 

I feel that I need to go back to the nature. These days I’m dreaming about the forest, the countryside, the smell of the flowers, pine trees. So I think is going to be rural/ green destination. Maybe Switzerland? Canadá? let’s see.

What city or place in the world do you think is the most underrated, and would you urge people to visit? 

Well, I have a Polish friend who is living in Barcelona, who also works as a guide who is always telling me that Poland it’s a great country to visit in summer. Quiet, green, of the beaten track (meaning is not the typical country to visit) and cheap. I have to admit she sells it very well and I’ve seen pictures and it looks really appealing to me. We guides, as we are used to be all the time in the most visited places, when we travel we like to discover hidden jewels, we sometimes like to go where nobody goes…

Where have you tried the best food and what was it?

If I say in Spain will it sound bad? We have wonderful food anywhere you go! I was invited once to have dinner in a winery in the Aragón region; the chef, who had a Michelin star was presenting every dish as if it was his own little work of art – talking about the details, the ingredients, how he took care of everything and why with the sommelier, they decided to pair the dish with that specific wine. It was such an amazing experience. I cried while I was eating, the same way you can cry when at a concert, theatre play, or watching movie that touches you. It was the first and only time something like this happened to me!

Update notice: This article was updated on April 9, 2023.

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