life in barcelona
Living Abroad

Life Abroad: Barcelona

Barcelona, on the Spanish coast, is a city with a long and rich history. Barcelona’s founding is a bit muddled with some historical versions stating that Hercules founded the city about 400 years before Rome was built, while others state the city was founded by Hannibal in the third century BCE.  Artefacts of the city’s ancient history continue to be found such as when an ancient Roman graveyard was discovered underneath the Barcelona Maritime Museum.

In addition to its long history, Barcelona is a major centre of art and architecture, as well as fashion and commerce.  The city’s dining options, vibrant nightlife, and world-class beaches have also contributed to Barcelona’s rank as the third most popular tourist destination in Europe.

What can you do in Barcelona?

  • Visit the Beaches

National Geographic and numerous travel site polls have ranked Barcelona’s beaches as the best in Europe. What makes this ranking so surprising is the fact that the beaches have only recently been used for leisure activities. Up until 1992, the beaches were crowded by factories and industrial buildings, which were moved and the beaches were reclaimed.

  • Check Out the Architecture

Most major European cities have some amazing architecture. What makes Barcelona unique is the influence of one man, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s work is scattered throughout the city and accounts for 7 of Barcelona’s 9 UNESECO World Heritage designations.  The Sagrada Famila is perhaps the most famous. Construction on the Roman Catholic cathedral began in 1882 and is still going on.

  • Go to a Game of Football

FC Barcelona is one of the most popular clubs in the world and a major tourist attraction. Camp Nou stadium is the largest in Europe.

  • Go Clubbing

The clubs in Barcelona are some of the liveliest and most vibrant and exciting in Europe. Almost every genre of music is covered, and many are open until 6 AM.

  • Go Shopping

Las Ramblas is a 1.2-mile long pedestrian street and is home to the oldest indoor market in Barcelona. The main shopping street is Portal de l’Angel, which is the most crowded street in Spain.

  • Go Drinking

Unless you like drinking alone don’t start your night out before 9:30, otherwise you’re likely to be one of the only people in the place. Barcelona has bars of every genre imaginable. Most serve tapas, small appetisers on tiny skewers or toothpicks. You keep the skewers and toothpicks on your plate; they are counted up at the end of the night to determine the charge.

Some of the best bars are found in the Gothic Quarter:

  1. Sor Rita is an eclectic bar with décor that includes Virgin Mary’s, stilettos (the shoes not the knives), and Barbie dolls on the ceiling.
  2. Bar Mingus is known for its beer tap and gin and tonics along with surprising good meatballs. The walls are covered with skateboards.
  3. To reach the Red Rocket Bar, you have to go down a rather uninviting alley, but once inside, you will find yourself in one of the best rock and roll bars in Barcelona; the bar frequently has excellent live acts.

Where can you have lunch? 

It’s possible to make a full meal on tapas, which is everywhere. The selection of world-class restaurants is impressive.  You can make your trip memorable by trying some of the regional Catalan and Basque restaurants.

  • Argut is one of the finest Catalan restaurants in the world. Some of the house specialties include veal brains, cuttlefish burger, braised lamb cheeks, frog legs, warm duck gizzard salad, boneless pig trotters stuffed with sausage, and oxtail stew.  The desserts are also excellent.
  • Ipar-Txoko is an excellent Basque restaurant with an ever-changing list of daily specialties. The steaks are first class, and starters include their signature cod omelette, clams, and squid.

Where to Stay

The range of accommodation in Barcelona is what you would expect for a world class city from luxury five-star hotels, quaint boutique hotels, hostels, and owner leased private apartments.  So instead of listing hotels, here is a list of some of the more popular areas:

  • Les Corts is an important financial and business centre.
  • Ciutat Villa is the oldest and most populated area and a very popular area for first time visitors.
  • El Raval was once one of the seedier areas and home to the city’s red-light district. The area is now popular with artists.
  • Eixample is home to the city’s most expensive upscale shops and many of Gaudi’s most famous works. Accommodations tend to be expensive.
  • El Poblenou is the preferred spot for artists and young professionals.

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