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I think you just have to have your street smarts dialed up a bit in a case like that. But that you can still enjoy what the city has to offer.

Agreed and we did (as we did in most cities), but it just didn't work for us. I was very disappointed because I expected so much.

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An open letter to two esteemed members who are making their first trip to this, one of my three favorite cities, later this summer. Veterans might wish to skip the "obvious" section:   Obvious thin

On many trips to Barcelona, I stayed in an apartment rented out by its owner. I found it in the columns of a newspaper or magazine, and it was great value (they since sold it) - but it's worth lookin

Agree re the cava - it was awful.   The tapas was good though, and the atmosphere fun.   In terms of cost, a couple of poker players shouted our bill.

A long post with my observations just disappeared. I'll try again.

 

Loved the architecture. Gaudi is the name everyone knows, but he is far from the only important figure. Las Ramblas is filled with tacky stores, but the buildings are still intact as they are in the other parts of the old city, even if the the first floor now houses a tee-shirt or other tourist souvenir crap shop. The recently restored Palau de Guell just off Las Ramblas was probably my favorite Gaudi site. As if just for me, there was a temporary exhibit in the attic about the restoration, which was done to the highest standards and was very impressive.

 

The tourists are overwhelming and I think the locals are sick of them (us.) I agree that no one was friendly, even in the most superficial way, not even in our hotel, which, presumably is in the "hospitality" business. (The location, at 62 Passeig de Gracia, half a block from a subway station that had three lines and the commuter train to the airport was fabulous.)

 

It was important to me to engage in heavy-duty touring because I doubted even before we left that I would ever be back. I thought the city would be relatively light on tourists mid-March and maybe it was, but the numbers of tour busses disgorging their contents, bored high-school students being led around by their teachers and slightly older students on spring break were overwhelming. In other cities, it has been easier to escape the hordes. Barcelona is the most heavily visited city in Spain, but it is relatively small in area, so everyone is concentrated in a few square miles. The locals can't stand it any more.

 

The major tourist attraction that we missed was the Picasso Museum. The line was very long, populated by the bored high schoolers mentioned above and I refused to waste an hour or more waiting to see yet more paintings by Picasso, despite the appeal of seeing them in Barcelona. We did get to the Miro museum and on the rainy day, spent some time at the museum of contemporary art and the CCCB, both very worthwhile. The MNAC, on Monjuic, was also open and we were able to see the Romanesque murals. We went to two concerts, both in churches. One, at Santa Maria del Mar, was a Prague orchestra and choir performing Mozart's Requiem and the other was a solo Spanish guitar recital by Manuel Gonzalez. (Maybe I'll post a list of everything we did.)

 

I loved seeing the laundry hanging from balconies, even in well-to-to neighborhoods. The clothes dryer has not caught on, at least not for sheets.

 

You may all disagree with me about the bread, but I can't imagine anyone saying the rest of the food is anything but delicious. I'll post separately about the food in the Spain forum.

 

Petty crime: Yes. We were approached by some dubious types. Now, I remind you that Ranitidine is a born and bred New Yorker who has been used to riding the NYC subway for all of his 72 years without ever being the victim of a crime, not even an attempted pickpocketing. In Barcelona, we were on the metro during a crowded rush hour, standing near the door in the front car. A young woman got into the car, bumped into me, but I didn't think anything of it because I had my bag strung diagonally over my shoulder, clasp to the body and there was no way anyone could get in. It was a cool day and Ranitidine was wearing a raincoat over his blazer, wallet in the interior pocket of the jacket. Suddenly, he said to me, "I've been pickpocketed! My wallet is gone." Just as he said that, the door opened and the woman who had bumped into me left the car right at the exit, with her coat draped over her hands. We assume that she was the thief. R. said he was tempted to run after her and pull away the coat but he couldn't be 100 per cent certain and what if he were wrong?

 

Lessons to be learned from this event: Try not to ride in a crowded car. Don't speak English to your companion if you can avoid it. Do not ride in the first or last car; they are nearest the exits. The criminals do not necessarily look the way you may expect them to. (We were both impressed by the level of skill of the perp.)

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It's a great pity that petty crime has taken such a strong hold in central neighborhoods - it was evident even before the post-Olympics tourist boom. My Beloved and I used to sit at terrace tables on the Ramblas and watch the pickpockets working. Indeed, my Beloved once managed to slap a bag out of the hand of a grabber.

 

The tourist overkill, and the profusion of nasty Irish/British pubs around the Ramblas is deeply regrettable. Of course, there's so much to see beyond that, and it sounds like you managed.

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Really need to say the food wasn't very good at all. Not in the same league as in Seville or Malaga. Even Cartagena was significantly better.

 

Can't understand why it gets such high praise from people in the travel business.

 

ETA - Most of the churches (if not all) were magnificent.

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Really need to say the food wasn't very good at all. Not in the same league as in Seville or Malaga. Even Cartagena was significantly better.

 

Can't understand why it gets such high praise from people in the travel business.

 

ETA - Most of the churches (if not all) were magnificent.

Rich where did you eat? What nabes?

 

I don't want to do the whole "you eat at the wrong places" but when a town is as tourism driven as BCN is it really matters.

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I'm sure the epic unemployment rates for under 25's is going a long way towards increasing the petty crime unfortunately. Spain is a mess.

 

ETA: Did you make it to Girona?

I am sure that you are right that unemployment is a contributing factor to the rise in petty crime.

 

We did not get to either Girona or Montserrat, although I had planned day trips to both places. There was simply too much to see and do in Barcelona.

 

I read most of Barcelona, by Robert Hughes before the trip and finished the book there. I also took the Cadogan guide, which I used as a reference in the hotel, but carried around the MapGuide and Barcelona Day by Day. R. carried the 24 Walks in Barcelona book. We didn't "follow" any of them, except for a few of the walking routes, more or less.

 

Here's what I checked off in my trusty (and indispensable) Knopf MapGuide Barcelona:

 

Map A El Born/La Barceloneta/ Port Vell

Santa Maria del Mar

Barceloneta

Les Rambles

Palau Guell

Placa Relai

 

Map B El Raval, Barri Gotic, La Ribera

Museu d'Historia de Barcelona (primarily for the Roman ruins underground)

Catedral

La Boqueria

Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu

CCCB (Centre de Cultyural Contiemporania de Barcelona)

MACBA (Museu d'Art Contimporani de Barcelona) a Richard Meier building. We went to both on the same rainy day. I'm glad it rained because we might not have gone otherwise and the exhibits were very good.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

 

Map C Sarria/Pedrables/Sants

didn't get to these areas

 

Map D L'Eixample/GraciaParc Guell

La Pedrera

Casa Battlo

walking and gawking for blocks in L'Eixample

 

Map E

Montjuic.Poble Sec.Sant Antoni

CaixaForum (exhibits of Goya and Delacroix in conjunction withh the Prado and Louvre!)

Mies van der Rohe paviliion

Poble Espanol (corny, but still worthwhile and expecially fun because they were shooting a medieval movie and we could watch the behind-the-scenes prep.)

MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (the Romanesque murals in an outstanding display, with an explanation of the way they were removed from their original crumbling churches and installed and preserved in the museum.)

Fundacio Joan Miro

 

Map F Port Olimpic/PoblenouLa Dreta de l'Eixample

Sagrada Familia (no one should see this without reading Hughes first)

Torre Agbar, along with a slew of other new or new-ish building along a tram (I would call it a trolley) ride. We were very glad at this point to sit down for a while.

Arc de Triomf

Parc de la Ciutadella

 

We did this (and more)in a leisurely way, which is why we didn't get to Montserrat. Even so, I missed the Picasso Museum (I mentioned the line, above) the Monestir de Sant Paul del Camp, and the Tapies Museum, but, hey,, you can't see everything in just a week.

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We ate at:

 

Pintxo (in La Boqueria, because we couldn't find El Quim the first time.)

 

Ceva Txapela (a tapas joint a couple of doors from the hotel, the first night, when we were too tired to actually go anyplace.)

 

Buffet breakfast at our hotel on Sunday. The other days we had our coffee and croissant at a little coffee shop, also a couple of doors from our hotel.

 

Dinner Sunday at Barceloneta.

 

Monday -- we grabbed a "bikini" (ham and cheese) sandwich for lunch at our breakfast place and had dinner at Moo.

 

Tuesday -- Lunch at Oleum, a spectacular-looking restaurant in MNAC at Montjuic. Dinner at Tapas 24

 

Wednesday -- Lunch, the famous ham sandwich at Viena, a place on Las Ramblas extolled by Mark Bittman, but it was good anyway.

Dinner - La Taberna de Cobre (delicious blood pudding)

 

Thursday - lunch at Taberna Basca Irate (one dish was an entire leg of suckling lamb)

dinner -- a bit of cheese and fruit from the market in the hotel room

 

Friday - lunch at Commerc 24 (very late, skipped dinner altogether)

 

Saturday lunch, Cal Pep

dinner - gelato and waffle from a joint near the church after the concert. Before the concert, a woman eating a waffle walked past us as we were waiting for the doors to be opened and I knew that I had to find a waffle afterwards. It hit the spot.

 

I may fill in what we ate later.

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Rich where did you eat? What nabes?

 

I would need to check my receipts to recall the names, but they weren't near Las Ramblas. Both were in neighborhoods off the main thoroughfares. Both were recommendations. I recall one was very close to a police station/court house complex. The other was in an alley that took us forever to find.

 

The tortillas were barely edible. If the eggs were cooked any longer, they would have been cardboard. The fish didn't taste fresh and the sauce they used was cloying. The service was unfriendly and disinterested.

 

The anchovies were good.

 

Out tapas lunch in Seville was spectacular. We were the only non-locals in the place and the staff was more than helpful. We must have tried 10 items and one was better than the other. Even the bread was good. :lol:

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Good work, Lippy. So you made it to Moo? I had forgotten that place.

 

The best thing about Monserrat is the mountain views above the church, but I understand the time constraints. Did you see the Salo de Tinell in the old district?

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Good work, Lippy. So you made it to Moo? I had forgotten that place.

 

It was a lovely, quiet, formal restaurant. We ate there Monday night, early in our stay. We realized after this dinner that we would prefer having our larger meal at lunch. We had the seasonal tasting menu, which featured a few modern gimmicks, such as what appeared to be a slow-cooked egg (barely warm) in an almost transparent golden sugar shell. This dish was my tip-off, to my surprise, that some sweetness often appears with in savory dishes in Catalan cuisine. There was also wood pigeon and a sous vide pigeon breast. I'm not sure what a wood pigeon is compared with a plain pigeon but they did have different flavors, although that may have been the result of the preparations. We had the matching wines with the tasting. The sommelier was charming and R., especially, loved the wines. He is eager to visit the wine store next to Espana. We noticed that the tablecloths extended to the floor and there were no flowers on the table, as there would have been here. We had made a reservation earlier in the day, but several tables remained empty as long as we were there. At a table near us was a Spanish family that attracted a great deal of special attention from the chef and the rest of the staff. This was our most expensive meal of the trip, but not necessarily the best in its entirety, although we did like all the dishes. We chose it because we were still a bit jet-lagged and it was close to our hotel. I didn't take notes during dinner and my reconstruction is scanty.

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