JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GEORGINA SALOMON FROM BARCELONA, SPAIN !
Gigi is a 24 years old journalist and travel blogger from Spain. Her greatest passion is travelling, and her dream is to go around the world. In her travel blog she writes about her travels and experiences while on her social media handles she shares pictures and anecdotes from her trips. She lives in Barcelona and thinks as a local she can help tourists see her city from a different perspective. She believes this is not an all-inclusive guide but will certainly help tourists get started with their basic needs once they step in Barcelona.
Barcelona is the largest and avant-garde capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. Situated in the north east of Spain, between the mountains and sea, Barcelona is more progressive and modern with alluring beaches than the bustling capital, Madrid. The name Barcelona comes from the Barca family of Carthage who ruled the area in the 3rd century before Christ. Catalan is the main language spoken in the city.
Barcelona is the first and only city in the world that received a Royal Gold Medal for architecture from Royal Institute of British Architects. Antoni Gaudi, one of the greatest architects, has made spectacular buildings in Barcelona. His La Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic Church, Casa Batlló, and Parc Güell sets Barcelona apart from any other city in the world.
Barcelona hosts a Mediterranean climate of mild and humid winters with warm and dry summers. In the city, the warmest months are July and August with temperatures above 25 degrees. Preferred time to visit the city is in the months of January-February & April-June.
Please tell us something about life in Barcelona.
Life in Barcelona is very cosmopolitan, with many different cultures, and a lot of urban art. It is a city where many people from around the world live, and with a thousand plans to make, in Barcelona you would never be bored!
Also, one of the best things about living in Barcelona is that you have the sea, the mountains and the city. For me, that mix of landscapes is unique.
What is the most convenient and favoured transport of Barcelona?
The common modes of transport in Barcelona are Subways, Transit buses, Rodalies and trams. The most used transport is the metro. It crosses the entire city, and at almost every corner you will find an underground stop. Moreover, it is very easy to move around in the Barcelona underground, it is very well indicated and it goes very fast. The BCN metro operates on 11 lines that span over 120 kilometres and 169 stations. A single ticket costs €2.15, whereas, the same ticket to the airport is €4.50.
The best way to get to the city from the airport is the Aerobus. The bus runs from 5:30am to 1am and leaves from both terminals every 5 or 10 minutes. The journey costs 5.90 euros (or 10.20 euros if you buy a return ticket) and takes about half an hour to reach the city centre, Plaza Cataluña. Although there are faster or cheaper means of transport, for me this is the best because the buses pass more and more frequently and leave you right in the centre of the city. But you can also get there by metro, train, city bus or taxi.
Although Madrid is well connected to everywhere, whether it’s the smaller gems of Spain like Sevilla, Salamanca, Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, San Sebastian and Girona or the rest of Europe, travelling within or out of Spain except France through Barcelona is a little harder.
According to you which are the top three places to visit in Barcelona?
For me, the best places in Barcelona are the Sagrada Familia, the El Born district and some of the viewpoints (Búnkers del Carmel or El mirador d’Horta).
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most representative icons of the city, so it cannot be missed on your visit. It took around 200 years to construct La Sagrada Familia using modern technology, more than the pyramids of Egypt. It is really beautiful both inside and outside, it is a wonder! For me, the best view of the cathedral from the outside is from the park right in front of it, it’s all there and it has a beautiful setting. Without a doubt, you have to go inside to fall in love with it.
How to Reach :
Metro: To reach the Sagrada Familia you can take the metro, the station is right across the street from the Basilica. It has stops for Line 2 (purple) and Line 5 (blue) metro lines.
Bus: All of these buses stop at Sagrada Familia – 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24.
El Born Barrio is the most charming and stylish neighbourhood in Barcelona. It is full of modern bars and restaurants, craft and alternative clothing shops, art galleries and very vintage shops. For me, one of the best ways to discover the most authentic and local Barcelona is to get lost in the streets of El Born, its medieval architecture and go for tapas in one of its trendy bars. The Picasso Museum is also located here in Montcada Street 15-23.
How to Reach :
The El Born neighbourhood is located behind Barcelona’s beach barrio using the metro stop Barceloneta (yellow line L4) or using the metro Jaume I (yellow line L4), next to the famous Barrio Gotico.
My third recommendation is to contemplate the whole city from one of its viewpoints. The Carmel bunkers are the best known. Park Guell, located on Carmel Hill, is one of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces and is composed of beautiful gardens and incredible colourful architectural elements. For me there is one more special and very little known in the city. Very close to the Mirador d’Horta, there is a viewpoint with a swing overlooking the whole city. It’s incredible!
Apart from these, you must know that more than 10 percent of the city is covered by urban parks with Parc de Collserola as one of the largest metropolitan park in the world. Also, there are 55 museums in the city, so if you are a museum lover you have plenty to chose from. The most popular are the FC Barcelona Museum, with over 1.5 million visitors a year, Fundació Joan Miró, MNAC and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).
What are the most popular day trips for nature, culture and history from Barcelona?
One of the best excursions that can be made from Barcelona is to go to the mountain of Montserrat. It is a mountain about half an hour from Barcelona, with some very peculiar shapes, and with a monastery at the top.
You can do several routes on foot through this area or simply visit the monastery of Montserrat, a place of pilgrimage. One of my favourite places in this area is the Roca Foradada, a hole in the middle of a mountain with views of the whole of the Barcelona metropolitan area.
Another day trip is to the Tibidabo Amusement Park. This amusement park has views of the whole city and is perfect for a day full of fun. At the top of Tibidabo, there is a telecommunications tower standing at 288 metres tall, making it the highest structure in the city. You can also enjoy spectacular views from the observation deck at the tenth floor of it.
Are there any events or festivals in Barcelona around which tourists should plan their holiday to feel the local culture?
One of the best known and most awaited events in Barcelona is Sant Jordi. A traditional festival that is celebrated based on a legend of the city. Jordi is a combination of Barcelona’s Valentine’s Day as well as Book Day (Día del Libro), which coincides with the death of both Cervantes and Shakespeare, inspiring UNESCO to create the World Book and Copyright Day in 1995.On this day, 23 April, the streets are filled with roses and bookstalls, as it is a tradition that couples, friends or family give each other these objects. It is one of the most beautiful days to visit the city. It looks superb with all the atmosphere, concerts, music, castellers, indeed a very festive day!
Another event is La Mercè, held on the 24th of September each year, which is an official holiday. The Festival is held in honor of the Cities Patron Saint and Protector, the Virgin de La Merce.
Which are the must try local dishes of Catalan cuisine? Any recommendation on popular local places to try them?
The dishes you must try in Barcelona are the Paella, potato omelette, the Calçots, the Escudella and the bread with tomato and sausage (ham, fuet, cheese…). A delight! Also worth trying are bomba catalana and esqueixada.
And sweet dishes such as Crema Catalana, Mel i mató, Coca and Panellets, which are eaten at Halloween time.
The best places to try the local cuisine are the restaurants and bars in the Gracia district. They are local, small and family restaurants. This is the area where you can eat better and at a good price.
Barcelona is well known for its wonderful 2 kilometer long boulevard Las Ramblas in the old quarter called Gothic Quarter beginning from Placa Catalunya till the Colombus statue by the waterfront. A quarter that speaks of the history of Barcelona from Roman times to the medieval period. La Ramblas is a group of five streets – Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Caputxins, Rambla de Sant Josep and the Rambla de Santa Mònica. There you can find many restaurants with Spanish food and shops with souvenirs.
Also, for your knowledge, Barcelona has more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, so if you visit here, you are up for a treat !
Are there any popular weekend, night or flea markets in the city which tourists must visit? Anything that one must bring back home from Barcelona?
Located in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella or Old Town, the shopping mecca Portal de l’Àngel is one of the most expensive streets in Spain. In the centre of the city, very close to Plaza Cataluña, is the Boquería Market, the best known market in Barcelona. There you can buy good quality products and you can also eat “tapas”, a very common way of eating in Barcelona.
There is also a vintage market, with alternative fashion, art and music, called Palo Alto Market, named after the tech city in California. It is located in the Poblenou district famous for its graffitis. The market is held only one Sunday a month (first weekend), but it is worth going to. There is a garden outside with food trucks selling gourmet food. You need to buy tickets to enter.
I would bring some Barcelona sausage or some souvenir related to the city. For example, some representative figure of Gaudí, the architect of many modernist buildings in Barcelona.
Which are the most popular beaches in Barcelona frequented by locals?
The most popular beach is La Barceloneta. It is the most touristic area of the city and is full of beach bars and restaurants with chillout music and surfing atmosphere.
I prefer to go to the beaches on the outside of the city such as Gavà, Castelldefels or Garraf. The best beaches are on the Costa Brava, which is much further away, 1 hour away, but they have super-clear water.
Would you suggest any events in your city to drama, music or art lovers? Which are the best street art spots of Barcelona?
Barcelona is a city full of cultural and musical events. Some of the best music events are Sonar (held once a year) or the Electronic Brunch (held every Sunday in summer). There is a street, El Paral-lel, which is full of theatres and clubs where musicals, plays, monologues are performed. It is the area of Barcelona with the most theatre culture.
Also, although Sardana is preferred over Flamenco, if you wish to watch flamenco artists, you can visit Los Tarantos which has some of the best Flamenco performers in the city.
The best area for enjoying street art is the Poblenou district. The streets are full of professional graffiti, and many claimants. Many years back artists took over abandoned factories to work here. La Escocesa is an ex-industrial building there which is now a base for 17 artists.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems that Barcelona locals use?
In Barcelona, the Glovo or Just Eat application is widely used to order food at home. And to move around the city, people often use Cabify (an alternative to a taxi) or Bicing, which are electric bicycles that are rented by the hour. Barcelona’s 180 km of bicycle lanes and the most successful bike-sharing programs in the world, Bicing, makes it one of the most bike friendly cities.
Anything that one must remember while visiting Barcelona? Would you like to give any suggestion to tourists visiting your city?
For me, the most important thing when visiting Barcelona is to let yourself be carried away by the city, its atmosphere, its improvised plans and its people. The best way to get to know Barcelona is by living like a local, getting lost in its streets, going to the restaurants that are most unfamiliar to tourists and contemplating every corner.
THINGS TO KNOW :
Visa : Citizens who are not from visa-exempt countries need to obtain a Schengen Visa, which allows stays of up to 90 days from tourism and business purposes. Applications can be made at Spanish embassies and consulates. Visa-exempt countries include the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan.
Currency : Euro
HOW TO REACH
By Air : Barcelona is well-connected to most European destinations with major airlines operating from the Barcelona El Prat Airport, situated about 17 km from the city centre. There are two smaller airports located near Barcelona, the Sabadell Airport and the Reus Airport.
By Rail : The high speed trains connect the city to other major cities like Madrid, Malaga, Zaragoza, Valencia and Seville. It also connects Barcelona to various French cities like Lyon, Toulouse, Parish and Marseille. The train stations in Barcelona are Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Passeig de Gracia and Barcelona Estacio de Franca. For Barcelona Train Map and Train schedule, you can refer to: click here.
By Sea : Barcelona port is one of the busiest ports on the Mediterranean sea. It has nine passenger terminals, seven for cruise liners and four for ferries. One can arrive to Barcelona by boat from Rome, Livorno, Balearic Islands, Genoa, Tangier, Algiers and Sardinia.
By Road : There are many main roads that lead to Barcelona from France or other cities in Spain. One can take the AP 7 motorway from France, while people coming from Zaragoza, Bilbao and Madrid need to take the AP2 Motorway. The major bus operators in Barcelona are Eurolines, the Megabus and Barcelona Nord. The Estacion del Nord Station is a domestic, as well as, international bus stop and there are regular bus services to various parts of Spain and France. Intracity buses operate from 4:25 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., tickets for which can be purchased via ticket kiosks scattered all across the city or from the following websites: click here.