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Barcelona Information Desk
Barcelona has transformed itself from smug backwater into one of the most dynamic and stylish capitals in the world. Summer is serious party time, with week-long fiesta fun. But year-round the city sizzles - it's always on the biting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music and good times.
The buildings, many the work of the eccentric genius Gaudí, will blow you away. The art, with significant collections by Picasso and Miró, will make you clammy all over. The people, with their exuberance, their duende, their persistent egalitarianism, will fascinate you.
Barcelona's enviable position between the mountains and the sea ensures year-round outdoor fun. It is a city that is inconceivable until you get there, unbelievable while you walk its streets and unforgettable after you've gone.
Barri Gòtic, the enchanting centre of old Barcelona, is a maze of dark streets crammed with cafes, bars and the cheapest accommodation in town. Spend a day wandering among wonderful, medieval buildings and some of the most awe-inspiring architecture ever to leave a draughtsman's desk.
Most of the buildings date from the 14th and 15th centuries, when Barcelona was at the height of its commercial prosperity and before it had been absorbed into Castilla. A masterpiece of its medieval heritage, the Barri Gòtic's catedral, is one of Spain's greatest Gothic buildings.
The quarter is centred on the Plaça de Sant Jaume, a spacious square, the site of a busy market and will be THE Venue for the Celtic Support come match day.
Travel – Planes, Train’s and Automobiles
If you're flying to Barcelona, the airport is 12km (7.5mi) southwest of the city centre. It's a fairly busy airport and receives many direct flights from North America and Europe.
Alternatively you can catch an international train to Barcelona. Buses are a cheaper, less comfortable way of getting there or for something a little different, you can get to Barcelona via ferry from the Balearic Islands and Italy.
Barcelona's airport is 12km (7.5mi) southwest of the city centre at El Prat de Llobregat. The city is a big international and domestic destination, with direct flights from North America and many European cities. Departure tax is factored into ticket prices.
You can take domestic and international trains to Barcelona. The main train station is Estació Sants, 2.5km (1.6mi) west of La Ramblas. Direct overnight trains from Paris, Geneva, Lisbon and Milan arrive here, as do services from various French cities and across Spain.
Buses are generally cheaper than trains, though not so comfortable. The main intercity bus station, Estació del Nord, is 1.5km (0.9mi) northeast of La Rambla, close to Arc de Triomf metro.
You can get to Barcelona via ferry from the Balearic Islands and Italy. From the Balearics there are standard boats, on which you can get beds in cabins of up to four people and high-speed boats on which sleepers are not necessary.
Taxis are an affordable alternative to public transport. A 15 min's journey will only cost about 5 Euros. Licensed Taxis have to charge you the amount displayed on the meter. However if you are carrying extra luggage there may be a small surcharge. Rates will be displayed inside the cab.
Official Barcelona Taxi's are yellow and black and a green illuminated light on the top of the Taxi indicates that it's available for hire.
If you have not booked your digs yet, try some of these last minute websites for cheaper accomodation:
In case of emergencies please keep these numbers handy:
Emergency - 061
Fire Department - 080
Police - 091
Ambulance - 93-3002020
City Info - 010
Visa - 91 5196000
Airport – 93-2983838
Security - Muggers & pick-pockets
Sorry to have to bring up such a subject, but with Barcelona its something that can't be treated as if it were the same as anywhere else. Barcelona is quite a haven for pick-pockets, and ask any few Celtic fans who has travelled there and i'm sure they'll tell you a bunch of stories of muggings and near misses. Don't let this put you off, but be careful as the muggers are organised in groups and target at will. Use common sense and only carry around as much as need be, and keep valuables at home, and any stranger trying to be too much of a friend, could end up just helping himself to your pockets. La Ramblas and the mini-streets round about it are in particular the worst parts and after 10pm are also a hive for very over-bearing prostitutes offering their services. Don't be afraid, just be aware.
Right on to the good stuff............
Bar’s and Nightlife:
You could write a book solely on Barcelona's bars from the wood-panelled wine cellars to bright waterfront places and trendy haunts sporting gimmicky modern designs. Each is a different scene. Some bars are very local, some are full of foreigners, some are favoured by students, others by the well-dressed middle classes. Some play great music, others are places for a quiet chat.
You can pay anything up to €3 for a bottle of beer (for the same quantity, draught costs less) - a lot depends on where and at what time you buy it. Mixed drinks start at about €3.50 but frequently cost €5 to €6.
Most bars are at their liveliest from around 11pm and close between 2am (Sunday to Thursday) and 3am (Friday and Saturday). A handful of places keep their doors open as late as 5am.
Many bars and some cafes offer some form of solid sustenance. This can range from entrepans/bocadillos (filled rolls) and tapes/tapas (bar snacks) through to more substantive raciones (basically a bigger version of a tapa), and full meals in menjadors/comedores (sit-down restaurants) out the back.
Cerveseries/cervezerias (beer bars), tavernes/tabernas (taverns), tasques/tascas (snack bars) and cellers/bodegas (cellars) are just some of the kinds of establishment in this category.
For a full meal, you are most likely to end up in a restaurant/restaurante, but other names will pop out at you. A marisqueria specialises in seafood, while a meson (a 'big table') might indicate (but not always!) a more modest eatery.
Barri Gotic Area
Bar del Pi
(Placa de Sant Josep Oriol), a characterful little bar, has a mixed local clientele. You can sip an early evening aperitif outside on one of Barri Gotic's nicest plazas.
(tel 93 342 52 52, fax 93 481 75 74; Carrer de la Boqueria 27; open to 1am) is a good place to meet up with other travellers and shoot the breeze.
(Carrer d'En Roca 14) is a curiously dingy dive. Wander in and you'll probably find yourself in the company of no more than a dozen or so punters, tippling or smoking spliffs and generally being laid back. Closing time is flexible.
(Carrer d'En Roca 18) is just a few doors down from Bar Roca and falls into the same category.
(Carrer del Paradis; open to around 3am Wednesday to Saturday) is a reggae hideaway just off Placa de Sant Jaume.
(tel 93 302 11 63; Placa Reial 3) is a classic old bar that is popular with a young crowd of foreigners and locals in the evening.
(Carrer d'En Rauric 20) fills at night with a young, casual crowd and plays great Latin and African music, although frequently the DJs indulge in only one musical theme or another - it takes a while to get into gear.
(tel 93 317 67 87; Carrer de Ferran 23; open 10am-2am) is a much classier, low-lit place with a varied, gay-friendly clientele. Getting a table isn't always easy.
Al Limon Negro
(Carrer dels Escudellers Blancs 3) has decor that keeps changing, but it remains a favoured laid-back place for a few tipples until well into the night.
(Carrer de N'Agla 9), a few yards closer to the waterfront, is a humming but cosy place for a beer and a chat - you can actually hear yourself talk and you can get to the bar with little trouble.
(Carrer del Vidre 3) is a cool Senegalese haunt where you can get a bite to eat or just sit in mellow contentment listening to the African rhythms and allowing soothing ales to do their work.
(tel 93 302 77 28; Carrer dels Escudellers 33) is a busy little watering hole. It caters to foreigners' desires for sangria but the place gets quite a few locals in too. Out the back is an interesting little restaurant, should hunger overtake your thirst.
(tel Rambla de Catalunya 100) is a classic wine cellar. Bottles and barrels line the walls and wooden stools surround the marble tables.
Michael Collins Pub
(tel 93 459 79 64; Placa de la Sagrada Familia 4; open noon-3am daily) is one of the city's best loved Irish pubs, a favourite with locals and expats alike. Meeting point of the Etims Bhoys last season and would be a good meeting point for us again, information can be found here:
Maps and Metro Guide:
Great days out if Barcelona is doing your head in
Montserrat (only 60-70mins away by train)
Girona (only 90mins away by train)
- Celtic yes, Rangers no (Oct 07)
- To Rangers Fans: "Don't come back to Barcelona" (Nov 07) (El Mundo Deportivo)
- Rangers: Fans get a wee protest (urine) (Mar 08)
- Barcelona - President hails Celtic's fans (Feb 08)
- Celtic fans give an example of civility/politeness (Metro Directe, Spanish newspaper) (Mar 08)
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, Sep 12 2008, 8:27 AM EDT
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