Calling All Barcelonians!

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    Oct 21, 2007 3:22 AM GMT
    My boyfriend is in Barcelona for school, and I'll be visiting him for a week in early November. He's only been there since mid-October, so is still learning about the city and getting his bearings. Does anyone have suggestions for what we absolutely should not miss? Or anything we should really avoid?

    Obviously we'll be seeing a lot of Gaudi buildings, some of the museums and visiting Sitges. We're not much into the mainstream gay stuff, or heavily touristy areas. We both love sidewalk cafes and people-watching. But we also love nature, so maybe places of interest that are within driving distance but off the beaten path.

    We are absolutely NOT interested in any sexual escapades, but are open to hanging out with local guys if we end up meeting and hit it off.

    Any suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated.

    Oh, and we've found possible accommodation with a gay-friendly French guy, at a great price (40 Euros/night), but it's not set, and he seems a little... difficult. So if anyone has suggestions for a relatively quiet, well-located, clean, private and reasonably-priced place to stay, that would be wonderful, too.
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    Oct 21, 2007 4:29 AM GMT
    Probably your BF will have plenty of ideas. But if you have time, check out a copy of Barcelona by Robert Hughes. For some reason, I ended up reading it on the plane, on the way back from Barcelona. I had gone to the places that you mentioned, but as I read the book, I was thinking "DOH ! I should have seen that. DOH!! I should have seen that. etc.

    That said, the cities in Spain are magical, but I much prefer the countryside.
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    Oct 21, 2007 5:07 AM GMT
    Well, my bf hasn't been there long, and has asked what I want to see, so I'm being proactive! icon_smile.gif I just bought Robert Hughes' newer book, "Barcelona, the Enchantress," on Amazon.com. Thanks for the recommendation!
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    Oct 21, 2007 5:23 AM GMT
    -EDITED

    I love Barcelona and Sitges.

    In November you could run into some real cold and rain though - make sure your accomodations have heating.

    40 EUR is pretty cheap for lodgings in Europe these days. The cheapest place I know of in Barcelona (two years ago) was more than twice that and just outside of town.

    I have fiends who loved staying at Alberg Hostel Itaca, Carrer de Ripoll 21, Gracia, 08002, Barcelona RE, Tel: 93 301 97 51

    They had a great experience, and went back a second time, they have told me it is the cheapest and best place to stay in Barcelona. I'm sorry I don't know exactly what they charge.

    'If you can splurge a bit, Hotel Balmes (C/ Mallorca 216; ÷451-1914 or 800-44-UTELL, fax ß93-451-0049; 122+ EUR), is an excellent 3 star hotel known for their great attention to their guests and the small details. The Balmes is also located in the Eixample Derecho, also known as the "Gaixample."

    Head down to the Plaça de Catalunya, the nerve center of Barcelona and home to Barcelona's best shopping. El Corte Inglès is Spain's mega-market, peddling everything from clothes to CDs and books to groceries. Zara is Spain's answer to the Gap, only with more stylish clothes.

    Be carefull, La Rambla is infamous for pickpockets and gypsies.

    The Borne district is full of galleries, shops and funky restaurants (much better prices and food than the open air cafes of La Rambla).

    A must stop for food and the experience is La Cereria, Baixada de Sant Miquel 5 08003 /Tel: 93 301 85 10; A sort of cross between old style european cafe and a hippy hang-out, this food cooperative offers great vegetarian (mainly organic) pizzas, salads, crepes, bocadillos and sinful desserts, all at very low prices. A fruit shake and muesli might be just what you need after too many nights of botifarra and vino de mesa. Highly Recommended.' -Lonely Planet


  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Oct 21, 2007 5:25 AM GMT
    Barcelona is one of my favorite cities to visit...
    just taking a walk along the Ramblas and sitting at a cafe is great during the day and well into the night
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    Oct 21, 2007 5:29 AM GMT
    Oh, and beware: Restaurants and bars don't even open until about 10, but the subway stops operating at 11. You may have an expensive taxi ride, or a long walk back.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Oct 21, 2007 11:22 AM GMT
    Not really true..
    if you're hungry at 6 or 7 you're gonna be out of luck but 8 or 9 most restaurants are open and running

    as far as the subway goes...yeah if you're out late you're gonna be walkin home
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    Oct 21, 2007 9:23 PM GMT
    My bf is hungry most of the time, so after a few afternoons of near-starvation, he's already clued me in on the food situation. But thanks for the heads-up. icon_wink.gif

    Frankly, I'd rather be inconvenienced now and then than see a fast-food chain, especially American (is there another kind?), on every corner. America: We're democratic and obese, so you should be too!! icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Oct 21, 2007 10:26 PM GMT
    Well, I haven't actually been to Barcelona (except the airport) for quite a few years, but I can never find a restaurant in Madrid or Sevilla that will serve food before 2200, except possibly right around the tourist trap areas. In the summertime in Andalusia, it's quite common to see families with small children going out for dinner at midnight or 0100.
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    Oct 21, 2007 11:02 PM GMT
    Le cool Barcelona is a useful little guide; lots of advice on avoiding the tourist traps and a brief section on things to do away from the city. . ace!
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    Oct 22, 2007 12:30 AM GMT
    "A must stop for food and the experience is La Cereria, Baixada de Sant Miquel 5 08003 /Tel: 93 301 85 10; A sort of cross between old style european cafe and a hippy hang-out, this food cooperative offers great vegetarian (mainly organic) pizzas, salads, crepes, bocadillos and sinful desserts, all at very low prices."

    Uh, IT, you might wanna indicate when you're quoting something like Lonely Planet.

    I've been to Cereria a zillion times. It's kind of a dump but it's always flooded with Americans for one reason: Getting a vegetable that is cooked straightforwardly (without organ meats in spinach, for example) is often difficult in Barcelona. (I know: The Spanish protest this, but it's been my experience.)

    Mindgarden: I've spent at least a year altogether in Madrid, Sevilla and the rest of Andalucia. While people dine late, it's easy to make a meal of tapas in the early evening.
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    Oct 22, 2007 12:55 AM GMT
    Obscenewish -

    Thank you. Thats the problem with copying private notes to yourself - and not keeping attribution - and then trying to pass on those notes.

    Yes, much of it was from Lonely Planet, my favorite guides.

    Edited and Noted.

    R
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    Oct 22, 2007 1:40 AM GMT
    Hey obscenewish - You sound incredibly familiar with the city and must have tons of helpful and useful tips! In addition to correcting the advice of others, I'd be very grateful if you'd also share some of what I'm sure will be wonderful suggestions that are uniquely your own. Thanks for the help!
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    Oct 22, 2007 1:49 AM GMT
    You will be seen a s a typical American tourist cuz you that. Have a heart and pretend you care. I'm half Spanish. Have a sense of elegance and pretend you not impressed. Keep an open heart and beware of the Gypsies. lol OLE!
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    Oct 22, 2007 2:19 AM GMT
    I'm half Spanish.

    And half-illiterate too it would seem. Well of course you're not going to morph into a Spaniard in a few weeks. So what if you're a tourist? As long as you're having a good time what does it matter.

    I've been to Spain several times, and always had a good time, and I'm sure I'm obviously American, or something other than Spanish. Yes, it does help to speak the language, but then again don't expect the Catalans to be impressed with your Castellano either.
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    Oct 22, 2007 2:34 AM GMT
    Barndoggy, I've spent far more time in the south, which I much prefer over Barcelona. My time in the latter has usually been about visiting restaurants, since, as you may know, it's maybe Europe's most influential culinary center now.

    As it happens a good dining critic friend just returned from BCN and the following is a mix of both our impressions. (I haven't been to BCN in 2 years.)

    The thing to avoid is touristy paella shops and the like. Since there is so much experimentation going on in BCN, don't limit yourself to traditional cuisine.

    El Bulli, where molecular cuisine was born, in nearby Roses, will be closed -- and I think they are literally already booked throughout 2008. But you might want to take an excursion to San Pol de Mar to dine at Sant Pau, which, if I'm not mistaken, recently earned a third Michelin star. It's about 30 miles outside BCN. Like El Bulli, you may get 25 courses here. You should try to make a reservation immediately if you can.

    If you like beef lips, pork chin and green apple sorbet, go to Sauc in the Eixample neighborhood. Also very good is Toc, in the same hood. The standout recent dish there, my friend told me, is a clear tomato broth with flash-cooked anchovies, beet gelee and dollops of sweet cheese and olive oil. It's an example of the direction of contemporary Catalan cuisine. It ain't gazpacho.

    If you like pastries: Pasteleria Escriba on Gran Via. It's Ferran Adria's favorite bakery (he's the chef at El Bulli).

    Tapas: Go to TapaC24. The tapas here also go beyond the traditional. I've been half a dozen times and my friend said she had a really good black rice dish there (black from squid ink).

    You may want to google the NY Times Magazine. They did a cover story on Barcelona a few years ago that explains why the city has in some respects replaced Paris as Europe's most creative city.

    If there are any flamenco performances, try to hit at least one. The tablaos, touristy places, are like flash dancing but still lots of fun if there's not a theater performance of the artier, more soulful stuff.

    It's too bad you won't have time to go south. Sevilla is my favorite city in Spain, maybe one of the world's most beautiful cities.

    Noting that you aren't in search of sexcapades, I won't write 10,000 words about the Strong Center, Europe's largest dark room in Madrid, where 800 to 1200 men are all at once looking for sex at 3 in the morning.

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    Oct 22, 2007 2:43 AM GMT
    LOL - Okay, this is getting way too amusing!

    First, Onixotto? Oh, no you di'ent!

    I am soooo not the "typical American tourist," and I definitely don't have to "pretend" to care! The nerve... icon_surprised.gif

    And wrerick - Not that he needs me to defend him (and I can't actually vouch for his literacy), but Onixotto is actually a real sweetheart who's just giving me crap. (Right, Onixotto? ...Right?!?) icon_wink.gif

    Just as I'll be pretending to care while I'm in Barcelona (offending all Spaniards, full- AND half-blooded alike) can we all just pretend to have fun and not take this so seriously?? I'm going on vacation, for cryin' out loud! This isn't a debate on steroid use or gay marriage! icon_biggrin.gif

    Thanks to all for the posts. Who'd have thought I'd get entertainment along with such great advice?!

    Oh, and my Spanish accent (along with my entire vocabulary and grammar) is that refined Mexican dialect one gains as a native Southern Californian... who's never actually taken a class... with a couple years of French classes thrown-in for ultimate confusion. (My bf will be doing all the talking.)
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    Oct 22, 2007 2:53 AM GMT
    Entertainment is half the fun of getting there.
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    Oct 22, 2007 3:45 AM GMT

    Spanish wont get you in very cool places in Barcelona icon_lol.gif But if you need help on Catalan - I'm yer man. Its my native language and I am from Barcelona. All of the above mentioned ideas are great I think. I dont know much about housing though, b/c I have an apartment there, and have never had to put people up in a hostel. When family overwhelms me I tend to put people in the NH Hotel on Travessera de Les Corts, next to the Soccer stadium Camp Nou. Very reasonably priced, and roof top bar / swimming pool to DIE FOR!!! It is also in the Les Corts District which is my favorite. Also a must see is the District of Gracia. Tourists tend to spend most of their time on the Ramblas, and in all honesty, locals NEVER go there. It is overpriced and full of "foreigners". If you want the best paella in the world, go to ElX / Elche on Moll de la Fusta in the "old Port". It is amazing and so are the views. In Les Corts visit the Crown Palace, also known as the Palacio de Pedralbes. The best shopping in the city is on Diagonal Road or Paseo de Gracia. Both very long streets so take the subway or start doing some cross-training!!!! There is a great bar scene on Avenida Maria Cubi. Locals never go and it is so much fun. In particular go to bar UNIVERSAL. Old converted mansion into a two level bar/disco. Very classy - AND FREE!!!! You MUST go to the area known as EL BORN... very gothic, very beautiful, wonderful restaurants. If you have time, 2 things: 1) drive 40 minutes to Montserrat Holy Mountain. Visit the patron saint of Barcelona and the monastery. Stunning. 2) Drive 2 hours north to the coastal village of Cadaques. The hometown of Dali, Magritte, and Picasso.... double-stunning!!! And peaceful to stroll and very romantic. Hostel Cristina is right downtown and super cheap. You could jump from the room window into the mediterranean.

    Have a wonderful time!!! I'm so jealous....

    Bona nit!!!! [good night - in Catalan]
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    Oct 22, 2007 3:48 AM GMT
    Ooooh - I ALMOST FORGOT!!!! An aussie friend of mine just opened a new bar off the street Carrer Pintor Fortuny. The bar is called "The Betty Ford Clinic" icon_eek.gif Seriously. They are great people, the clients are always really cool, and it was just written up in Vanity Fair Spain.... its tucked away in the Raval Quarter there, so if you find it.... be prepared for no tourists and CRAZY locals!!!!
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    Oct 22, 2007 3:57 AM GMT
    LOL. There is a club in PDX called "The Betty Ford Clinic." I walked past it a zillion times in the daytime, never suspecting that it was a club. Until I walked by a night and saw the huge queue! Doh!
  • dreamer

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    Oct 22, 2007 4:19 AM GMT
    Thanks for all the great info, gentlemen. I am leaving for Barcelona on Friday of this week -and you gave me great info!
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    Oct 22, 2007 2:58 PM GMT
    For housing check out Loquo.com It is a great place, how we find our roommies. There are places for finding food at all time, it is just that you might have to walk far. If you like to eat and flavor is not that important there are many bufets libres, they run about 9e for all you can eat y una bebida. Have you bf email if he needs any help. Un beso, m
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    Oct 28, 2007 11:15 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the great info! Again, if anyone has advice as to what should be seen outside the city, that would be great, too. The suggestions for Montserrat and the hometown of Salvador Dali - either Cadaques or Figueres (depending on who you ask) - are great ideas!