Barcelona: a quick city guide for delegates attending MWC 2017
The centre of Barcelona is divided by two major roads: the Gran Via and the Diagonal, which form a long right triangle running roughly from the adjacent edge in the West to its apex in the East. The Diagonal is the hypotenuse, and the Gran Via is the opposite edge.
The most central and important north-south road connecting the two is Passeig de Gràcia, which runs from Catalunya up to Gran de Gràcia. This is where you will see Gaudi’s La Pedrera and Casa Batlló (and if you are interested in other Modernist architects you can also visit the beautiful but often overlooked Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó i Morera, designed by Lluís Domènech i Muntaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, respectively).
South from Catalunya is La Rambla, the famous old street which leads down to the harbour. Off from La Rambla you can enter the Barri Gotic to the left or El Raval to the right.
Gràcia – relaxed family neighbourhood with narrow streets and pretty squares, full of little bars and cafes. Pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and plenty of spots for a convivial drink before and after supper.
El Born – an old neighbourhood with lots of bars and a vibrant nightlife centred on the cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar. Can be very full of tourists and noisy, but there are plenty of cocktail bars and places serving ‘pintxos’ and light bites.
El Raval – formerly a rather grotty part of the city, now rapidly being gentrified and hipsterised by tourists and foreign residents. A wide selection of fashionable boutiques and gift shops.
L’Eixample – grid pattern avenues and streets, residential neighbourhood with upmarket shops, cafes and restaurants.
Ciutat Vella – the old historic centre of Barcelona, a warren of tiny medieval streets with workshops, a few very traditional Catalan restaurants, the palace of the Ajuntament and the Generalitat and the Cathedral and Roman remains.
Poble Nou – the centre of regeneration efforts in recent years by the council (ajuntament). Poble Nou was a very traditional family neighbourhood, and is now being converted into a centre of the start-up and digital economy. You can still experience something of the atmosphere of the old Poble Nou if you walk along the Rambla towards the seafront.
Useful Catalan expressions:
‘Merci’ (Mer – see) – thanks
‘Sisplau’ (Sees – PLOW) – please
‘Hola/Adeu’ (Hole-A/ a-DAY-ew) – Hi/Goodbye
‘A Veure’ (a VAY-u-re) – Let’s see
‘Em cobres?’ (M Co-bras?) – The bill, please
‘Una taula per …’ – a table for ….
‘Lo que sigui’ – Whatever
‘L’ordinador no funciona…’ – the computer isn’t working
‘Web’ – website
‘Fes click’ – click on something (with a mouse)
‘Xarxa social’ (Shar-sha so-ci-al) – social network
Barcelona is full of restaurants. Many of them excellent. This is a short list of some that I like. I am not going to give away all my favourite haunts, but you won’t have any trouble eating well in Barcelona as long as you are open to trying new things.
Lomo Alto (Aragó) – one for the meat lovers. An excellent selection of beef, both young and aged.
Sagardi (Paseig del Born) – a good place to try Basque ‘pintxos’ and cider.
Fermí Puig (Balmes) – an excellent Catalan restaurant. Not cheap but if you are looking to impress and feeling adventurous you won’t be disappointed.
Tiquets (Paral-lel) – Experimental dining from Albert Adrià (brother of the king of Catalan cooking, Ferran Adrià).
La Taqueria (Passatge del Font) – cheap and cheerful Mexican fare
Places to visit:
CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona – http://www.cccb.org/en
Carretera de les Aigües/Mirablau – http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/page/1237/carretera-de-les-aigues.html
Montjuic/Mirador – http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/page/1236/mirador-de-l-alcalde.html
MACBA – museum of contemporary art – http://www.macba.cat/en/
Hospital de Sant Pau – another jewel of ‘Moderniste’ architecture by Lluís Domènech i Montaner – https://www.santpaubarcelona.org/en/visits