14 April 2012

mini guide to barcelona | part l

To me Barcelona is the most perfect city in the world. It's not my favorite city, but it's in the high end of my city list.

Barcelona is full of small cosy streets and squares, but at the same time it has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Wonderful shops, great restaurants (even though I have fallen into the tourist tapas trap a few times) and, not least, the wonderful architectonic works of Gaudì, which pop up around the city like small fairytale palaces. My favorite is La Pedrera, where I could spend hours on the roof among the funny- and a bit scary- chimneys with a view to another masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. I would love to try to live here for a longer period. To have a life in this wonderful city where everything meets in a perfect mix with a metro that works, clean streets, the beach, warm weather, great design, great architecture, and great restaurants (many of them with an international cuisine and many vegetarian and organic) Below are some of my favorite places in Barcelona. I have a few more coming up, so stay tuned for part II, which will be posted soon.

Ps: Before going, don't forget to watch Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona. Great movie with beautiful people and a beautiful city.



Churros

When visiting Barcelona (or Spain in general) there is one thing I will recommend everyone with a sweet tooth to try at least once: churros y chocolate. Churros are deepfried and are best when served warm. You dip them in the cup of thick warm chocolate which comes with the churros. They are crunchy, they are extremely fattening, they are fantastic... You can find churros in breakfast places and bars, but ask before you go in. Not everyone have them. The best places to eat them are the real churrerias where the churros are the speciality of the place. My Style City guide mentions one of these places. I haven't personally been there, but I find it impossible that a churreria shouldn't be good, so let me share the address with you.

Xurreria Trebol, Carrer de Córsega 341. T. +34 932179595




Kowasa

If you like me are into photography, a visit to Kowasa bookstore is a must. This little shop is exclusively dedicated to photography, which means that you can get the best and most beautiful books on photography in here. You will also find professional books on the technical sides of photography, and on the first floor you find different photo exhibitions. Kowasa is a place where you risk leaving a lot of money if you have the passion for photography- otherwise this might just be the place where you will find it - the passion!

Carrer Mallorca 235. T. +34 932158058 www.kowasa.com

Vincon 

Vincon is a classic among Barcelona shops. You find this big interior design store on Passeig de Gràcia, North of Placa Catalunya. Vincon has EVERYTHING you didn't know you needed. Here you find the world's best labels within interior design. Vincon is one of those shops where you just have to buy something even if you don't need it. But don't worry, since they have everything in here you won't have a problem finding a small symbolic thing without getting ruined. I bought a grass green Pantone box for 16 euros and I felt great afterwards! That's the thing about shopping, sometimes it's the little things that sadisfy you the most...

Passeig de Gràcia 96. T. +34 932156050 www.vincon.com


Hotel Banys Oriental

I discovered this hotel years ago when I read the Style City guide on Barcelona, and after a short visit to their homepage I fell in love immediately. Banys Orientals is situated in El Born district which is very cosy, very Barcelona and very central. The hotel is small and cosy with an interior that is kept in a simple, minimalistic design. Prices are cheap: 99 euros + 7% tax for a double room and 30 more if you want a really nice suite. Be aware that breakfast is not included. If you want breakfast you should add 10 euros. I recommend that you pay a visit to their homepage. The music that welcomes you, managed to put me in a Barcelona mood immediately and I just had to go... Did I mention the free wi fi connection and the fridge with bottles of water free of charge for the guests?

Carrer de l'Argenteria 37. T. +34 932688460 www.hotelbanysorientals.com





El Corte Inglés 

When I lived in Madrid I had the gigantic Spanish shopping centre El Corte Inglés just around the corner from my house. As I didn't work I would often be around the city exploring shops and cafes, and almost every day I stopped by El Corte Inglés. Maybe it's because this shopping centre was almost my home for one year or maybe it's simply because I love shopping too much...The fact is that I absolutely adore El Corte Inglés. This place is so gigantic. In here you can really find everything, from everyday things to expensive designer labels. And the supermarket in the bottom of the gigantic buildings that usually host El Corte Inglés is fantastic (even though quite expensive). In here you will find all kinds of Spanish and international delicatessen. In Barcelona I went to El Corte Inglés in Placa Catalunya and I visited the cafeteria on the last floor of the building. Ok, I admit it, the cafeteria could be better, but a wonderful surprise awaited me when I arrived here: In the cafeteria they have put big panorama windows half way round the building, so while you drink your coffee you can actually enjoy a perfect view of all of Barcelona. I was stunned! What a great idea. You can find lots of El Corte Inglés in most Spanish cities. 

Check out the website for addresses. www.elcorteingles.es 

Habitat 

I loooove Habitat. I remember having it in Rome several years ago but I actually don't think it's in Italy anymore. What a pity. In Barcelona I went to the store in Placa Catalunya and I loved it. Here you find all kinds of interior at reasonable prices and in a great design. Forget about Ikea. Habitat is so much better (and, fair enough, also a bit more expensive). I could have bought so much more than I actually did (and I did come home with candles, passe partouts, magnetic frames for the fridge, a teddy bear for my then unborn child, and some kitchen stuff...). I love the colours and the minimalistic design. I love Habitat. 

Placa Catalunya 4. Tel. +34 933017484 www.habitat.net 




Bar Lobo 

I discovered Bar Lobo walking around the small streets of Barcelona. I instantly knew that this would be one of those places I would love. I went for a coffee in the morning and decided to come back for dinner the same night, as the menu seemed very promising. I wasn't disappointed. Bar Lobo has both Catalan and international cuisine on the menu. I had fried artichokes as a starter and wild rice with vegetables afterwards. All very delicious. The interior design is very cool. Modern but cosy at the same time. Bar Lobo is situated in a little nice square with other restaurants. We were there in November so we ate inside, but I can imagine that the place will be even better during summer time, when you can eat outside and maybe continue your evening with cocktails after dinner. Remember to also try the tapas of the place. They are amazing. 

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny 3. T. +34 934815346 www.grupotragaluz.com 





Coquette - born to be beautiful 

Coquette is an extremely cool shop in El Born. Oh, I fell in love with this place as soon as I saw it. Great clothes and especially one fabulous black leather bag, which I still fantasies about. In here you find great designers and labels such as the Danish Custommade, Black Lily, Isabel Marant, See by Chloe and many more. Do yourself a favour and stop by here, even if you just need to dream for five minutes. And remember that Coquette has two other shops in Barcelona. I didn't visit them, but I'm sure they will be just as fantastic as the one in El Born. 

C/ Bonaire 5. Tel. +34 933103535 www.coquettebcn.com




Vueling 

I went to Barcelona with Catalan Vueling and I simply need to write about it here, because I realised how different this company is compared to many other low cost companies. First of all I have travelled with Vueling two times now back and forth between Rome and Barcelona. That makes a total of four flights all without any particular delays.

But actually what I realy like about Vueling are the little things. I like that the menu is Spanish and different from most other airline companies. First of all prices are very reasonable. With Vueling you can have a breakfast menu including one hot beverage, one muffin or croissant and one orange juice at the price of 5,50 euro. This may be normal in a bar, but not when you are far up in the sky! Another great thing about the menu is that it contains several quite healthy things. You can buy a little bag of sliced apples, corn bisquits, nuts, musli bars, and for lunch you can even choose between several vegetarian sandwiches, pasta salad and a vegetable soup! Vueling even has a small selection of wonderful teas with names such as Loving Tea and Working Tea, and the menu informs you, if what you are about to eat meals that contain gluten or nuts. A little tree indicates that the dish is suitable for vegetarians.

Finally there is the classic in flight magazine. The Vueling version is simply called Ling and of course it is printed on recycled paper making it even more lovely to read. The cities described in the magazine are of course Vueling destinations, but the great thing is that you don't find the usual guides to ordinary tourist attractions, markets and festivals. In Ling magazine you can meet unusual people in unusual places from around the world, mostly Europe. This makes the magazine a lot more original and you actually feel like taking it with you when you leave the plane.

Finally Vueling is cheap. I got a two way ticket Rome-Barcelona at the price of 114 euro. And that even includes ordinary luggage of 23 kilos + a 10 kilos hand luggage! So if you are going to a Vueling destination, do yourself a favour and book your ticket with this company.

 www.vueling.com