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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

VIP Barcelona

I love all things dodgy and messy and artistic and unique, qualities that are normally not part of the de luxe life. Nevertheless i do like to treat myself and "my significant other" to some luxury every once in a while.

I found THIS great, chic and inspiring article on Forbes traveller about the supposingly coolest places in Barcelona. Restaurants, bistros, tapas, shopping, chocolate, hotels, museums....

hmmmm as for me, I can't wait to splurge in Espai Sucre (an all-dessert incredibly chic restaurant)

espai sucre

Vanilla cream with coffee, black cardamom and banana

Check it out and tell me... what is your favourite over the top indulgence in BCN? Any cool terrace bars, restaurants, beach joints or penthouse spots?

BCN / Blogosphere Part 2

Thanks to TheBadRash i came across a number of very cool BCN blogs / websites. Make sure to check out his blog if you're looking for your daily BCN politics/socio fix! I am still in the process of reviewing his amazing blogroll but here are some of my favourites so far, which i'll be adding to my links:

Barcelona Life an eat/sleep/shop/drink/play kinda site, worth a visit!

Barcelona Reporter offers local news

Drink Barcelona LOVE IT!!! Bar reviews, maps and a really cool area guides which i'll be sure to steal from for my Barrio reviews! ;)

Drink Barcelona also led me to another bunch of great sites:

Barcelona Connect --> a bit of everything

Talk Conmigo --> if you're looking for language exchange

Barcelona Rocks --> Cool cool cool! Concerts and festivals in BCN

Giggling guiri --> English comedy club in BCN

Sin Carne --> vegetarian restaurant guide, yummi!

Just Barcelona --> comprehensive travel guide, recommended for tourists

BCN --> official Barcelona guide from the city

Barcelona Yellow --> Barcelona city tourist guide

Barcelona Metropolitan --> Love at first site! Fabulous online BCN magazine!

Loquou --> buy, sell, rent, get!

Keep the recommendations coming, part 3 is on its way! And until than GOOD SURFING!
Surf Culture

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Barrio Review Numero Uno - GRACIA

I remember one hot summer afternoon i spent in Park Guell but other than that Gracia did not make a huge impression on me. Now looking at all the recommendations all over the web it sounds to be the place to be! I'll definately check it out! New home... maybe! :D

This district, an ancient village enclosed in Barcelona’s city centre is a favourite. Shops, retro and trendy boutiques, nice restaurants, bars and cafés, charming little squares… Take it easy & enjoy a sunny nap or a shady coffee.Musicians, designers and artists of all sorts have made this Bohemian neighbourhood one the nicest in Barcelona. For those who are after the real Barcelona. Ideal location for longer stays.
  • Plaza del Sol, Rius i Taulet, de la Virreina : bars, restaurants, terraces.
  • Carrer Gran de Gracia : Belle Epoque buildings.
  • Cinéma Verdi : for cinema lovers.
  • Parc Güell : close to Gracia, a phantasmagoric park by Gaudi.

Couple sitting on rooftop terrace, woman on man's lap

  • Festa Major : 8 days of fiesta, mid-August.



Monday, September 28, 2009

Where to live in Barcelona?

Browsing the net I came across this great review of the different districs of Barcelona here from The Expatriator, which i will shamelessly copy in here ;) It is from 2007, so tell me did anything change? Which is your favourite barrio, the place to be?


These are the main areas in the centre, there aren’t really many reasons to want to live outside of the metropolitan area unless you’re looking for a bit of country bumpkin life or need to be right next to the beach. If you look at housing prices you’ll see that some of the outlying areas are actually more or as expensive as the centre of Barcelona. Ridiculous eh?

Ciutat Vella is comprised of the following four barrios:
Barceloneta - next to Barceloneta Beach. Higher crime (organized), lots of immigrants and expats, tons of tourists who walk through to get to the beach. Some very good hidden restaurants and things to do. Very near museums and marina and…
El Borne - or as expats call it, The Born. Everyone’s #2 favourite, probably because it’s great in so many ways but lacking some of the dirty flavour of other barrios. Top restaurants and top fashion shopping: all around very indie and chique. Note the ubiquitous black turtleneck, it’s that kind of area.
El Raval - This word is just fun to say with the Catalan drawl. Musicians love Raval and it’s indeed it’s full of life. Tons of immigrants, especially middle Asians like Indians/Pakistanis (see the Rambla de Raval). A long history of gangs, drugs and prostitution, Raval has, sadly, cleaned itself up and now people can visit again thinking to themselves how cool they are for hanging with immigrants… or something like that. Tons of nooks and crannies to discover, and in these nooks and crannies you find some of the originally cool bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, trendy stuff, etc. This isn’t really where the tourists go but you can still get a hooker at the right cross-street.
Barrio Gotico - Strangely we call this one by its full name in English. This is where all the tourists go to get lost in that *aww* “I love Europe!” sort of way. It’s definitely got its appeal, I can’t deny it. All the great history of old Barcelona is right there, along with the new Dutch junkies (no, not all are Dutch, but a lot of ‘em). A lot of expats set up shop here first and branch out after the first few months of dealing with the noise and belch of non-stop tourism. If you can get a roof-top patio then you are rockin’!

Beyond Ciutat Vella there’s, of course, The Expansion of Barcelona, known more commonly as L’Eixample or, in Spanish, El Ensanche, I believe. No, it doesn’t mean The Example as we expats commonly believe for years on end (or was it only me?). Pronounced, “ey-sham-pla”. It’s a massive suburb in the centre of the city. Yep, imagine America’s perfectly planned gated communities, and then make all the roads octagonal, 20x the density, dash some Catalan modernism throughout the whole thing, put the buildings in the middle of the blocks out like donuts (reminds me of Sim City) with park in the middle of the donut and, BOOM. You have the perfect example of how to enlarge a city 1890’s style. Does this make any sense? It does to me. Regarding living here, it’s very downtown New York or London. Big-ass buildings, no community feel (it feels very cosmo), some good shopping and places to go no doubt and quite safe: much less drugs, etc. The tourist spots are real mecas of tourism though. This is where you find all the Gaudi stuff. Eixample is divided into the left and right, “izquierda” and “derecha” respectively, and it’s commonly held that the izquierda is higher end. But alas the Eixample is boring for me, so let’s move on…

Poble Sec (“Dry Town” I believe) or the Montjuic area is really nice actually. Enough character, good metro connections, the Montjuic area is amazing for running and events and stuff, all around quite safe, not too expensive… the only problem is the total lack of good restaurants! I know that sounds lame but Barcelona has amazing cuisine and if you’re not around that good cuisine you’re going to be subjected to TOTAL CRAP. I mean, churros? WTF? Have you had a Spanish bocadillo before? The roof of your mouth will hate you for the first few months as you alternate between burning it on overheated cafes con leche and jamon y queso bocadillos. Anyway, Poble Sec rocks, and will be a big hit for anyone needing some good nature and a little more quiet. Please note the presence of great exaggeration in the above bitch fest.

Sants and Les Corts are both cheaper areas with higher crime but may be the new hot areas. I don’t know them all that well but people I’ve met from Sants are nice. Does that help? The main train station is right there people, you can imagine what that does to the area.

Poble Nou, aka New Town (just call it “pob-la no”), is a real mixed bag. This is a zone that perhaps only The Cheat could love… and other expats I suppose. This is an old industrial district so it carries all of those hallmarks: big old brick buildings with huge frosted windows (now lofts), smoke stacks (not-in-use), wider streets, etc. Poble Nou has seen the most new construction of any barrio in Barcelona though. Tons of new high-rise condos line the highway that runs next to the many beaches. If you go straight south from Poble Nou metro station about 10 min (walking), then at the beach turn right and go around the big grassy knob you’ll be at Mar Bella and Bogatell (another fun Catalan word, “bo-ga-teyy”) which are total nude beaches. If you like looking at schlong and boobs then this is your spot. Other highlights of Poble Nou include the big penis building, known as Monumental (ironic?) 

Also, the only real “mall” in Barcelona is here in Poble Nou, called Diagonal. If you’re a runner then you’ll probably appreciate Poble Nou. I did when I lived there. The proximity to the beaches is great. Big downside: the metro line sucks. The yellow line running through the barrio is old and rickety. Higher crime here too, avoid the parks and beaches at night (pickpockets, scams, and, well, gay predators). If you’re into the loft thing then this is your barrio though.

Sarria and Sant Gervasi is at the diagonally opposite side of Barcelona from Poble Nou. Literally, it’s on the other end of Diagonal. All apartments start at a million euros. Very nice, very safe, some might say beautiful, with tons of trees and parks. Sarria used to be its own little town so it’s got a cool pueblo feel to it. Very few tourists out here. Kinda snobby though. No good metro connections, but if you have the money to live out here then you’ll own a car anyway, plus there are the Ferro Carrils which are more like a regional metro, but they go downtown and connect to the metros pretty well. Did I mention how snooty these barrios are?

I’ve saved my favourite for last. Gracia. Oh Gracia how I love thee, let me count the ways. Artsy, funky, unpretentious. Great expat scene, cool cafes, great plazas, diverse and quality restaurant scene… great metro connections and close to Parc Guell too! It’s super urban and hipster but beware of the anarkistas and okupas! No, just kidding, kinda. It’s a diverse mix of people though, a great soup of cultures like I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world. The one problem is the distance to the beaches, but you’ll be partying on roof-tops and sipping cafes at Plaça Vierreina so who cares? I won’t go on because I don’t want to send too many of the wrong kind of people there. No, it’s not for everyone, but nearly everyone finds something to like in Gracia. This is where your second apartment will be and then when you leave it you will long for it again and again.

I'm planning to dig deeper and review the ones which seem to be the most interesting, including pics and additional to dos! Your feedback would certainly help me out! ;)

BCN / Blogosphere Part 1

One of the reasons why i started this blog was that i found very few blogs/websites on Barcelona by expats for expats. Nevertheless i did stumble upon a couple of interesting ones which are on my daily BCN reading list ;) ENJOY and don't forget to leave me your favourite BCN sites, blogs.... etc in comments, i'll make sure to feature them in BCN/Blogosphere Part 2!

MINIGUIDE  Discover what's up in Barcelona! One of my favourite BCN sites so far!

OH Barcelona has lots of good tips on entertainment and local BCN event! Check it out!

FROM Barcelona gives a really good insight to real expat life in BCN

Barcelona Photo Blog beautiful pictures, intersting insights, definately worth a visit!

Mental Irrigation totally chic! totally mental in the good sense ;) live from BCN!

 Orange Polka Dot A published writer and mummy, living in Barcelona with frequent updates on daily life, cultural happenings and children related topics

TO BE CONTINUED..... Young woman sitting on bench by books using laptop, smiling

Barcelomania, Barcamia... BarceloMIA!!!

I've been thinking long and hard on the first post on my soon to be sweetest waste of time! (Hence it took me three tries to get the name right! :))I am a fan and soon to be citizen of the greatest city on Earth, Barcelona. I'm preparing on my big move and although there are no concrete plans so far, i know i will land in BCN and will have a blast of a life there! Join me in preparing for the big move, looking up on all the knowledge the net and the blogosphere has to offer and collecting all that there is to know about expat life in BCN!!!

I hope that one day i can put this quote on my about page: ;)

"I live in a city open to the sea, kind to the visitor, with beaches, with wild boars, with a Sònar Festival; I live in a city made of the sum of little towns and of big cultures; I live in a modernist / contemporary / modern / ancient / gothic city; I live in the city of design, of art, of Mrs. Rose, of the bravas potatoes, of the bulding works in Lesseps Sq.; I live in the Eixample, in the Montbau, in the Guineueta, in Diputació St., I live in Barcelona".

Spain, Barcelona, couple reading map near Sagrada Familia, laughing
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