SIGHTS in Barcelona:
The times where El Raval was avoided are definitely over. In previous times, there were many cheap and cheap-looking apartments that immigrants used to start off their lives abroad. Today musicians, sprayers and artists have discovered the beauty of the darkness that surrounds this area. As an example, the mestizo sound of Manu Chao was born here. After the opening of the three temples for contemporary art MACBA, CCCB and FAD, the area was upgraded and turned into a hot spot for tourists, creative and trendy people. Meanwhile, there are many trendy and hip bars and restaurants. Nevertheless, there are still some dodgy people, cheap restaurants and 24-hour shops that keep the area exiting and trendy. Tip: avoid the side alleys especially at night and if you are dressed smart.
Barcelona is all about contemporary art, especially in November. At the BAC! festival everything goes as long as it looks good and is art. Examples include graphite, objects, sculptures, photography, painting and video art. The participating artists are international and their work is exhibited all over town in galleries and public spaces. The works are connected through a common theme that changes every year. The exact programme is constantly being updated and is published on their website.
The nice side of Place Reial is that you just can't get it under control. In this square, the Catalonian joy of life is celebrated day and night. It can become rather noisy here and only recently the locals took to the streets with huge posters to stop the noise at night. Admittedly, they weren't very successful. It is still rather noisy but somehow the sound has become nicer. The street musicians need to proof in a casting that they are actually able to play before they are allowed to perform on the square. Drug dealers have disappeared, as police officers take more frequent walks through the square. In other words, be it day or night, a coffee or a beer on one of the many terraces is always worthwhile.
SHOPPING in Barcelona:
Are you familiar with Small Faces and The Who? Do you love the noise of a Vespa driving by? Then you are ready for Smart and Clean, the Mod-Spot of Barcelona. Here, they cherish everything about British fashion of the 60s and 70s. In other words, you'll find things here that you won't find anywhere else. That relates to the clothes as well as to a small but fine vinyl selection that beckons you to take a closer look. There are also items available which can still be found in our everyday lives such as Harrington, Britac and Doc Martens. All you need for your vintage dress or shirt is the matching parka!
Probably the most famous fashion export Barcelona's is mainly one thing: colourful. The eye-catching prints are recognised by everyone who has seen them once. Famous people like Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Julia Roberts helped the brand gain international fame. Nevertheless, Custo's flagship stores are a rarity in Europe. Take the opportunity to shop in one of the three Custo shops in Barcelona and your friends back home will envy your purchases for sure.
The decoration of the shop is very colourful indeed: green walls with red highlights and chess-coloured black and white tiles. The loft is as trendy as the hair cut you will get at this place. The exclusive young hairdressers also know exactly what to wear at the next clubbing event and they know where it will take place. If you ask them nicely they will be happy to share their insider tips. If it is just tips you need but no haircut, just go by for a head massage. Mmmh!
EAT in Barcelona:
In July 2012 Albert Longán kicked off his restaurant Loft212 in Barcelona. The economic crisis has seized the country, unemployment rates are high. But in his restaurant business booms. The guests order tapas - including sushi - and drink Cerveza. In the kitchen Albert's son Daniel Longán creates Spanish bites with an Asian touch, he serves seasonal and regional cuisine for the main courses - from fish to meat (the latter is from the Valle de Cardener and therefore specifically tasteful). And all this embedded in the ambiance of New York lofts from the 1950s. The design comes from Carlos Martinez: bright and dark wood, whitewashed brick walls with black and white photographies, a mix of wooden and aluminium chairs at the bar - long, black, with a counter lighted in yellow colours. Quite comfortable indeed and therefore no surprise that the Spaniards love to spend their money here - for good food and good company. All crises aside!
What would Barcelona be without chocolate? Still worth a trip, we happily admit that. However, there still would be an elementary part missing to complete your happiness. We recommend whenever possible to take a break at a coffee house and eat a piece of cake and never ever to resist dessert in a restaurant. If that's still not enough than you should not miss out on Bubo?s. In this place sweets are treated like little treasures: chocolates, bonbons, chocolate cakes and cookies are displayed like jewellery in a show window. If you want to start nibbling straight away, you will be served coffee or champagne.
Ca l'Isidre is considered to be one of the best restaurants in town and not only since, in 1986, HRH King Juan Carlos and his spouse HRH Queen Sophia celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary here. This true Catalonian kitchen, which has very little French influence, will allow you an extraordinary gourmet experience. The menu changes every day, as owner Isidre Gironés pays a visit to the market and evaluates its offerings. He then decides what will be put on the menu that day. There is a huge selection of great wines which go along very well with your gazpacho, sea bass, scampi or turbot.
STAY in Barcelona:
Yessica had to have this apartment. But because of its 400 square metres, it was just a little too big for one person and so she decided to transform it into a small hotel. How you do that? You take 5 large rooms, furbish them stylishly and wait until a traveller magazine mentions it alongside the luxury hotels of the city. If you are staying at Yessica, it is like you are staying with a friend who is happy to provide you with all kinds of insider tips that you won't find in any guide book. Double rooms are available from Euro 135 per night
Don't be scared off by the name: If in the morning, you don't remember whether you are staying in a hotel or a castle, then you are in the La Florida. The grand hotel does not hold back with luxury and has been the accommodation of choice for the rich and beautiful. Service and rooms are top class since the early 20th century. A highlight is the generous private terrace that provides great views of the city. In addition, you'll have a beautiful spa area for relaxing. Double rooms are available from Euro 227 per night.
How does a palace dating from 1892 become an exclusive 5-star hotel? You add glass, concrete and steel to the old walls and turn this into an architectural highlight in the middle of El Born next to the old town. The theme is pure elegance in the rooms, the pool terrace and the gourmet restaurant East 47. The terrace hosts Djs from June to October while guests like to enjoy their cocktails. The private Egyptian art collection is an evidence of how classy this hotel is. Double rooms are available from 170 euros per night.