My (Ever-Growing) Guide to Barcelona…

I’m writing this post because I have had SO many people ask for Barcelona recommendations since we moved. I’ve not had time (or motivation) to write lots of blogs since we made the move as there’s been so much more going on with our business, future plans and just generally settling into a new culture and way of life. Anyway, I’m going to update this post when I can, but for anyone planning a trip soon here’s my brain dump of cool stuff in Barcelona so that I don’t have to keep tweeting lists to people.

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If you have a specific question tweet me @JayneKitsch or comment below and I’ll update this post when I can with any new worthwhile information.

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TRANSPORT

There are two airports that can be labelled as Barcelona, but only one is actually IN Barcelona. El Prat is about 35-50 mins from the centre of the city and there’s lots of transport routes to get to where you’re staying. The other airport in over an hour away near Girona, there are coaches to Barcelona from there but it’ll add time and distance that isn’t needed! Transport is simple, very similar to London, but cheaper and less chaotic.

TAXI: Taxi drivers here are very friendly and helpful in our experience, especially if you’ve learnt some Spanish and make an effort, although most will speak English too. A taxi from the Airport to a Central place like Catalyuna is about 35 Euros. For the rest of your journey, you can catch a cab in designated areas and flag them down and they aren’t too expensive.

TRAIN: Alternatively, you can get the orange metro from the Airport, to Torrassa (on the red L1 line) and change to get Central via another train route, this is the cheapest route. You need a special ticket to and from the airport, but the rest of your journey is super cheap. We’d recommend the T-10 ticket for just about 9 Euros, which is 10 journeys with little restriction. If you are going to travel around more to sight-see, there are other tickets that might be more economical. But generally, it’s cheap, clean and easy to use the trains.

WALK: Don’t forget that Barcelona is on a hill, so in certain areas you’re going to suffer if you walk too much! However, if you’re visiting walking is by far the best option as there is SO much to discover down side streets, lots of hidden squares and some amazing indie shops, bars and restaurants. If you just want to see the main areas of the city & you have the energy, you can definitely do a majority of the trip on foot.

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CRAFT BEER

We love finding new craft beer flavours and brands, it’s such an exciting industry right now with some genius creativity and branding going on. It’s massive in England and in the past few years has picked up quite a arsenal of kick-ass brewers and bars for Barcelona too. There’s even a whole block between Universtat & Rocafort metro that seems to have evolved into Craft Beer Town. It’s pretty epic and exciting for a branding nerd like me and a beer geek like Miz and I’m sure many of you will agree. If you’re new to Craft Beer, there’s SO much variety and most of the time the staff in craft beer bars are ready to help give suggestions based on your preferences and allow you to sample before you buy, so it’s a bit more of a flavour experience than just a pint at ‘Spoons. Here’s some of our faves.

Mikkeller, 202 Carrer de Valencia: Beer nerds will know the Mikkeller brand, a very slick brand from Copenhagen with their own chain of bars a la Brewdog. The Barcelona branch has a special place in our heart and we spent most of our free time here on one of our house-hunting holidays. It’s has cool Scandinavian themed decor and they play chilled rock music and always has a vast selection of beers from their own breweries, local ones and other interesting brands. They also serve food.

BierCaB, 55 Carrer de Muntaner: Not too far from Mikkeller, in that region of craft beer bars I mentioned earlier. This place has a VAST array of beers on tap and in bottles as well as a bottle shop next door for taking beer home. It’s a little more expensive than other places, but if you’re a beer fan it’s worth a visit. They also serve a great selection of food, but also a little pricey for the area, yet still cheaper than London!

Brewdog, 69 Carrer de Casanova: What an address! Hehe. Anyway, if you live in England you know Brewdog, this is the Barcelona version and it’s what you’d hope for. They serve food also, including a mix of traditional Spanish & British inspired dishes too. Cool vibe, a bit out of the way, but worth it if you’re a fan.

Garage, 261 Carrer Counsell d’Cent: This microbrewery allows you to sip your brewskies right next to the barrels, it’s pretty amazing. A modern, concrete minimalist design is less cosy than other places, but with flavours like Mojito Berliner Weisse and their new Imperial Chocolate Stout, you will want to check out their latest creations. If you don’t make it to the bar, you’ll find their IPA and a few others in various bars and restaurants around the city.

Napar, 223 Carrer de la Diputació: Super close to the lively Universtat area, this place looks a little intimidating from the outside, particularly at night as it looks like a really fancy restaurant at a glance. However, if you walk to the back there’s a large bar area next to their microbrewery. The food here is amazing, they do traditional Spanish bar snack (potatoes, croquettes and tapas) which are little more expensive than other places in the area, but a very high quality. Ace range of beers from all over the place and something for every price point & taste. Feels like you’re in a fancy cocktail bar, but with epic craft beer instead. Very cool.

See also Cat Bar, Ca La Merce, Mosquito and below…

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COCKTAILS & BARS

We haven’t been to as many cocktail/bar type places as of yet, it’s not been long enough yet! But here’s a few places that we frequent that are useful if you’re looking for some good atmosphere, a few drinks and some music. These bars are in some of our favourite areas of the city, so great places to head for discovering indie shops, bars, restaurants and spotting some pretty epic street art along the way. Skate and rock music culture (although they are about 10 years behind us in some musical tastes) is very popular in Barcelona so you can see this influence in a lot of these places, which suits us perfectly.

Betty Ford’s, 56 Carrer de Joaquín Costa: This street has a lot of interesting things on it and slightly off it, very interesting to explore. This little cocktail bar and burger joint is very popular and tourist friendly. It’s a higher price point than elsewhere but their almond based, dairy free Pina Colada is the most amazing cocktail I’ve ever tried.

Nevermind, Carrer dels Tallers 68: There is another one of this bar chain in Barrio Gotico but this is the better one and the must visit! It’s a grunge, skate themed bar with a skate bowl inside! The interior is decorated with wrecked skateboards, stickers, street art and projectors playing skate video, it basically looks like a 16 year old punk kids dream. It is. They play rock, punk and alternative music and the drinks are very cheap. If you go at happy hour you can get a basic beer for 1 Euro and a extremely alcoholic cocktail for about 3.50. They don’t measure alcohol the same in Spain, so when you get a glass and mixer, it can quite often be almost half a pint of spirit in there. Bear this in mind when ordering and it’s quite easy to drink more than you think! This place has lots of atmosphere, can get very busy late on but worth a visit at anytime. They sometimes put gigs on here too. Oh, and if you ask when you order, you can get a free bowl of popcorn which is always a bonus!

Sin Copa, 35 Carrer d’Avinyó: A rock bar across the way from Ca La Merce, it looks a bit grungy and have rock music playlist. A nice place to chill between other things and has cheap drinks and a few great offers on craft beer and cocktails.

Ca La Merce, 54 Carrer d’Avinyó: This place is advertised as a craft beer bar but really it’s a cocktail bar with Brewdog on tap and a few good bottles. They have a good array of craft beer bottles including Flying Dog, but mostly ones that are easily available elsewhere. The cocktail menu here includes a speciality in Mojito alongside lots of classic and creative flavours. Nice atmosphere, good location and affordable.

Bollocks Bar, 46 Carrer Ample: This is owned by the same peeps as Nevermind and the less good version of Nevermind is on this same street. It’s a similar vibe as above but metal music themed instead. They also serve burgers. Metal music is very popular in Barcelona, so there’s quite a few rock bars in the city.

Notes on cocktails on the Beach: If you’re here on a sunny day you HAVE to get a cocktail on the beach because it’s just the most epic holiday treat. In peak season there are lots of pop up bars on the sand, where you can sit on a terrace or take a plastic cup and sit on the sand. It’s way more expensive than in town, but such a treat. There’s also random street vendors trying to sell you cocktails too, along with a gazillion other things, they will annoy you but if you’re polite they shouldn’t hassle you. If you’re on a budget, go to a corner shop and pick up some can or a box of Sangria! Yes, really. A can can cost as little as 50 cents and alcohol is generally very cheap, 5 euros will get you a big bottle or Rum and a bottle of Cava for about 2 euros.

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FOOD

Bacoa: This is a Barcelona based burger chain so there’s quite a few branches. Our favourite is the one just off Placa Reial in Barrio Gotico, but there’s loads and the food is solid everytime. They do EPIC burgers made with ethically and locally sourced ingredients, a little more expensive than a meal elsewhere but a brilliant, tasty, fresh meal that kick the ass of anything like Meat Mission or Five Guys.

La Taguara Areperia, 10 Carrer del Rec: This is an odd recommendation as most people won’t have seen this dish before, the specialise in Arepas, which is a dish traditional in a few different Latino cultures, Miz introduced them to me as they are something he grew up eating. This is a perfect place if you want a quick meal that is super tasty and filling. They are maiz flour buns filled with ingredients such as chicken, avocado, cheese and beans. Cheap, delicious and in the centre of El Born which is a beautiful area to explore.

Taco Alto, 62 Carrer del Portal Nou: Another one in the El Born district and super close to Arc de Triomf if you’re visiting that area. A perfect lunch spot with a casual canteen vibe. They specialise in tacos (including a vegan option) you purchase per taco so can mix and match flavours. Fresh, delicious and a cheap meal that you can eat quickly.

Mosquito, 46 Carrer dels Carders: This is such a random combination of things, this place specialises in dim sum and craft beer. Not the most obvious pairing but it works. Very cheap and tasty food and you can eat ALOT for very little. They have a big choice of craft beer bottles and taps, including fruit beers which I really love with this type of Asian food. Can get really busy, so if you are keen on this place plan ahead!

Marmalade, 4-6 Carrer de la Riera Alta: This place is owned by the same people as the famous Milk Bistro (and new Firebug bar) it’s a bit hidden away down some pretty back streets in El Raval but inside is beautiful and sumptuous. They have a lovely brunch menu with generous portions, which you can enjoy with epic Hershey’s hot chocolates or a Kir Royale. They also have a very good cocktail menu, as they evolve into a bar in the evenings. Fair price for the experience, but not the cheapest place, totally worth it though.

OM India, 130 Carrer de Floridablanca: This is a great location if you fancy going to the cinema, as it’s just across the road from the Renoir which shows English films. Amazing traditional Indian restaurant with a vast menu including lots of veggie and vegan options. Fairly priced and so tasty.

See also, Napar (above) and the section below…

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VEGAN & VEGETARIAN

Neither Miz or I are vegetarian or vegan, but a lot of our friends are so we’ve had to get very good at learning where is good for our vegan and veggie mates when they come to visit. Traditional Spanish food it not generally veggie or vegan friendly and there is not always a clear definition between the two here. However, in Barcelona there is a large community of veggie & vegans, with a very trendy array of choices popping up in the centre, so you can still eat well in this Spanish city. Here’s some of the places we’ve been or that our friends enjoyed:

Cat Bar, 17 Carrer de la Boria: 100% Vegan Craft Beer & Burgers, close to Jaume I metro station and the edge of the beautiful El Born area. Quirky, small cat themed decor with a piano you can play. Menu of various flavours of vegan burgers and chips, big portions and affordable and awesome beers, all vegan! Cosy, near lots of interesting stuff but is open strange opening times, so check online first.

Gopal, 42 Carrer dels Escudellers: 100% Vegan deli style take out burger places that also does vegan donuts and cakes. Close to Placa Reial in Barrio Gotico. There are benches to stand at to eat inside, otherwise best to takeaway. Very affordable and filling.

Rosa Del Raval, 6 Carrer dels Angels: Mexican themed restaurant that serves meat, but many dishes are veggie or can be made veggie or vegan easily. One of our favourite places, also serves very strong cocktails & have a wonderful, colourful decor. Perfect if you want a sit down meal and a couple of drinks.

Biocenter, 25 Pintor Fortuny: Very chic bistro style restaurant in one of our favourite areas of Barcelona, we haven’t been to this one yet but a friend says it’s great for vegans.

Flax & Kale, 74B  Carrer dels Tallers: Very fancy and famous “flexiterian” restaurant by chef Teresa Carles, so can cater to all but towards a veggie/vegan angle. New York style vibe with lots of healthy dishes and a juice bar. Very beautiful building at the top of one of our favourite shopping streets. Haven’t eaten here yet but a friend liked it a lot.

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Learning Languages…

How many languages do you speak? And I don’t mean, which languages did the UK school system make you learn for a couple of hours here and there when you were in High School. I’m talking fluent or enough to get by living in another country. As a Brit, it’s pretty much always just English and if you were keen you might have enough French, German or Spanish to get by on holiday but not much else. For me I know a bit of French, but really only my English is something to shout about.

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What I’ve learnt about Spain in the first week of living here….

So it’s been a week of living in Barcelona now, it’s gone so fast and we’ve achieved so much already. It’s been a minimum of 20 degrees everyday, only rained for about 10 minutes and we’ve eaten a lot of amazing and cheap food. We’ve also been to IKEA about 5 times, assembled ALOT of flat pack furniture, eaten a lot of IKEA meatballs and tried Spanish Domino’s. We’ve yet to go to the beach, even though my Dad asks me everyday if we have or not. It’s on the to do list. Anyway, thought it would be fun/interesting to have a little ramble about some of the (possibly) useful things that I’ve learnt about Spain so far.
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Why we’ve moved to Spain…

Why not? Where we are born is not something we can choose, it just happens. So, why not think about living in another country? It’s an adventure, it’s an opportunity to learn a new language, it’s a chance to meet new people and live amongst a different culture and chances are you’ll get better weather than the UK too! Whilst the UK is still part of the EU, it’s the time to give it a go too whilst the process is fairly straight forward, who knows what the future holds there! It’s not straight forward at all, but more on that in another post. We signed the paperwork and got our keys last night, so now we’ve just got to figure out how to get our stuff there, so, time to explain it all!

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What I learnt from being on tour with punks…

As most of you will know my boyfriend, Miz is in a band and has been in various bands for a very long time. He goes on mini tours about once a month and gigs around the UK frequently. His latest incarnation of his band is a three piece meaning that whenever they go on tour there’s no space in the car for me so I’ve never been on tour with them. This year, Miz started pursuing some acoustic stuff under the Larkhill name and this weekend I had my first experience of being on tour and thought it’d be interesting to blog about as it’s not something everyone will have experienced and was certainly very illuminating and fun! Now, just bear with me whilst I write this currently being the most tired I’ve ever been.

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My Miz playing acoustic as Larkhill

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