Friday, May 23, 2014

A Guide to Barcelona for First-Timers

Sights to See (listed in order of importance):
1.Plaça Catalunya & Las Ramblas (The city center) –Also check out La Boqueria on Las Ramblas –a typical market unlike anything you’ve probably seen before. Sample a fresh fruit juice.
2. The Gothic Quarter & The Gothic Cathedral (don’t need to go inside)
3. La Sagrada Familia
4.Las Arenas (Bull fighting is now banned in Barcelona. This old bullfighting ring is now a gigantic shopping mall). Head to the top for a 360° view of Barcelona.
5. Parc Güell
6. The beach –metro stop Barceloneta or Villa Olímpica
7. Parc de la Ciutadella (if you have time, theres a great zoo here)
8. Montjüic –Beautiful mountain in Plaça d’Espanya filled with beautiful gardens and fountains. At the top is the 1992 Olympic stadium
9. The two best Guadí houses are Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (aka Casa Milà). You can admire them from the outside since they are expensive. If you would like to go inside, go inside La Pedrera.

Things to eat:
·      Tapas –small appetizer-like portions.
o   Typical Tapas:
§  Croquettas (stuffed with cheese, ham, potato or fish), tortilla patata, pan con tomate, patatas bravas
·      Pinchos or pintxos –are individual items held together with a toothpick. You pay by the number of toothpicks you have at the end.
·      If you like ham, Barcelona is the place for you. Check out jamón ibérico and ham flavored potato chips
·      El Principe are packaged cookies that are surprisingly delicious. You can find them in any food shop.
·      Beer –Mortiz and Estrella Damm are local beers with major breweries in Barcelona.

        Places to eat:
·      El Mussol – Typical Catalan food, more for a sit-down dinner. Try the calçots.
·      Bo d’ Be –Amazing sandwiches. Very popular so the line is usually 45 minutes long but the wait is definitely worth it.
·      Els 4 Gats –Frequented by Picasso, Guadí and other famous artists, writers and architects in the early 20th century. It has a vibrant history and is worth having a coffee or some tapas at.
· Qu Qu -Typical tapas bar
·      We Pudding –Café modeled after Alice in Wonderland
·      Cervecería 100 Montaditos –Cheap bocadillo (sandwich) restaurant. On Wednesdays and Sundays everything is €1!
·      Rosa Negra – Delicious Mexican food  
·      Betty Ford’s –Delicious American-style burgers

Bars & Clubs:
·      Chupitos –Extremely fun shot-bar with 1000’s of different types of shots.
·      L’ovela Negra -2 locations (recommend the one off of Las Ramblas before a night out) (recommend Poble Nou location for Barcelona Futból games)
·      Sugarbar –My personal favorite little hole-in-the-wall bar. Amazing mojitos
·      Bar Marsella –Absinth Bar, known as the oldest bar in Barcelona. Frequented by several famous people and known to be Hemmingway’s favorite spot.
·      Ryan’s Irish Pub –Many tourists from all over Europe come here. Fun atmosphere & good prices.
·      Opium, Catwalk and Shoko –On the beach, known as the “American clubs” or tourist clubs –check their Facebook pages for reduced covers (no sneakers, must look very nice)
·      Razzmatazz –A major club with 5 gigantic rooms, with various styles of music

The Metro:
·      You will most likely want to purchase a T-10 metro ticket which lasts for 10 rides and can be shared, it is approximately €11. A single-ride trip is a rip-off as it is about €2

General Tips:
·      Watch out for pick-pockets!! I cannot stress this enough, Barcelona is one has some of the worst pick-pocketing in the world. Zip and button all purses, jackets etc. Men, put your wallet in your front pocket. Pick-pockets are generally located at major tourist attractions such as Plaça Catalunya, Las Ramblas, La Sagrada Familia and on the metro.
·      The airport: To save money, when exiting the airport, get on the Aerobus. It is €5,90 per person. It stops/picks up at Plaça Catalunya and Plaça d’Espanya. You can walk from there to your hotel/hostel from there or take a taxi. When going back to the airport, get on at either of the two stops and know which terminal you’re flying out of.
·      I recommend you rent bicycles one day –they’re a cheap and easy way to get around the city, which you will find to be relatively small.
·      There is a cable-car that takes you to the top of Montjüic
·      There are buses that take you to the top of Montjüic and Montserrat (the other major mountain)

Things to know:
·      Barcelona is located in a region called Catalunya. Catalunya existed long before Barcelona. Catalonians are very proud of their culture. They have their own language (Catalan), food, holidays, traditions and flag. There is a major push for Catalonia to become an independent country from Spain right now.
·      Bullfighting is banned in Barcelona for political reasons.
·      The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is almost entirely political
·      Catalans speak both Spanish & Catalan
·      Siestas are more typical of Southern Spain. Their purpose was because it would be so hot around lunchtime that many shops would close in the afternoon for lunch.

· Women should not travel alone at night

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