City Extras: Barcelona

     

Clued In Barcelona – The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City

Grab the 2022 edition here

 

In Focus:  Brunch & Cake Café / October 2022

     In Barcelona, we recommend that you try Brunch & Cake, an usual but tasty café in the vibrant Eixample neighborhood (though they now have opened a second location next to the Port Vell yacht harbor.)  With an emphasis on fruits and baked goods, their plates are literally works of art.  Their sandwiches, salads, grain bowls, and breakfast choices are so unique that we hardly know how to describe it all. Let’s just say it’s like Grandma food made on a day when Grandma went a bit crazy.  And that’s a good thing! The fare will make you feel like it’s summer again, even in the middle of winter.

 

Attend a fun workshop while you’re on vacation – September 2022

   You might not have considered booking a workshop while you’re away from your daily grind but it’s the best way to learn about the culture you’ll be surrounded by.  They are always taught in English and will undoubtedly become a cherished memory.  In Barcelona, that means learning tango dancing for beginners on a rooftop with a view. Oh, and cocktails are served to help break the ice and stoke your confidence.  Details are in our new Bored in Barcelona book but here’s a handy link to the class that’s held right in the famed Gothic Quarter. So fun!

 

 

Join a standing e-scooter tour of Barcelona – August 2022

   Be the hero of your family by booking the standing electric scooter tour by GetYourGuide. You’ll see more of Barcelona’s famous spots in three hours than most visitors see in three days. Their electric scooters will zip you past the Sagrada Familia basilica, Passeig de Gràcia, Gaudi’s Casa Milà and Casa Batlló, not to mention Ciutadella Park, the Arc of Triomf, the Olympic Port, and the Barceloneta beach front. An expert, English-speaking guide will have something fascinating to say about each place.  Helmet and bottled water are included. This fun tour is held on most days and open to anyone age twelve and older. A 24-hour cancellation refund is offered. For more fun experiences, check out our new Bored in Barcelona guide.

Two of the e-scooter guides in front of Sagrada Familia

 

 

Where to grab a delicious lunch on the cheap – July 2022

    If you’re anywhere near the beach or the marina (Barceloneta or Port Vell, respectively) just head over to Baluard Barceloneta. This authentic Catalonian bakery has everything for an inexpensive pick-me-up. They offer sandwiches and pixtos made on their freshly baked bread, as well as a hefty assortment of pastries, juices, and coffee. Beach picnic, anyone? You’ll find them just a stone’s throw from the yachts at 38 Carrer del Baluard.  They open early everyday but close early on Sundays, usually by 3pm. 

 

 

Visit something special that’s probably off your radar – June 2022

   This month, all of our City-Extras  will highlight an awesome local sight that you’ve probably never heard of. (If you have, kudos to you!)  In Barcelona that has to be the newest Gaudi treasure to be opened to the public, Casa Vicens.  Occupied until 2017, this incredible piece of architecture was Gaudi’s first major project.  Built one-hundred-thirty years ago in an exotic Orientalist style, it is a bit farther north than his other famous works. You’ll find it at 20 Carrer de les Carolines, in the neighborhood of Gràcia. Now that it’s open for visitors, you need to get over there. Don’t worry about crowds because it really hasn’t been discovered yet. Win win.

 

 

Be part of a gourmet food crawl in Barcelona – May 2022

    Whether you’re a self-proclaimed expert of Barcelona’s cuisine or just can’t get enough of it, this fun food crawl will fit the bill. Follow an English-speaking, local culinary expert from Devour Tours to tastings at seven different places. Bring your appetite because you’ll be savoring lots of flavors and even a full lunch at the end.  With 2000 years of history all around you, some historical context will be given, along with a few hidden spots to discover. You can even upgrade to have complimenting wines and liquors included. This food crawl lasts about three and half hours. Get all the pertinent info at the website above.  Yummy!

 

 

Sharing our new spring advertising campaign.

   Yes, you really do deserve one.  Grab a copy of our Clued In Barcelona interactive ebook today. It’s easy when you download the free Amazon Kindle app first so that your ebook “knows” where to go. This app enables you to actually read the book, turn the pages, connect to the live links, and even adjust font sizes to your preferences. It’s so fun!  Note: If you already have this app on your smart phone (or have a Kindle device) then you’re all set.

 

 

Sagrada Familia is totally worth your time –  April 2022

   There are many “touristy” places to visit in Barcelona and while this may have a negative connotation for some people, please remember that ultra-famous sights are ultra-famous for a reason: it’s because they’re fantastic and highly memorable. The Sagrada Familia Basilica is a must-see, and we can honestly say that it is one of the most unforgettable places we’ve ever been to, is magnificent inside and out, and was chosen for the cover of our Clued In Barcelona travel book for those reasons.

So, is Gaudi’s masterpiece easy to book and visit? Very. Here are some helpful pointers to get your Barcelona travel juices flowing:

Gaudi’s temple basilica of Sagrada Familia (sacred family) is open daily from 9am to 6pm. You can book your timed-tickets up to two months ahead through their official app or website, or in person.  With advance tickets you can enter the basilica without queuing or waiting. The entry price ranges from around €21 to €26. They offer guided tours through their website if you prefer to take a deep-dive of the place.

Its immense towers are still under construction but the interior is finished so your visit will not be affected. As a recognized Catholic church, visitors must dress appropriately: no see-through clothing, tops must cover the shoulders, trousers and skirts must come down to at least mid-thigh. Visitors are not allowed to enter wearing promotional clothing or tops with bold statements.

 

 

Grab our newest [fun] guide to Barcelona!  March 2022

   Our new “companion book” to Clued In Barcelona is finally here. Get your copy of Bored in Barcelona – Awesome Experiences for the Repeat Visitor before you wrap up your plans and itinerary for that trip to Spain.  It’ll change the way you think about how you’re going to use your time while you’re here.  We think it’s a must-have, even for first-time visitors.  We offer it in both paperback or eBook and you can grab it here.

 

 

Eat your way through Barcelona  – February 2022

     February here means fewer crowds and cool weather. We adore it, even if we must don a jacket at night for warmth.  Since Barcelona’s beach is basically out of the question, why not spend a few hours on a fabulous Secret Food Tour instead? This town is simply made for foodies so get out there and discover some delicious local gastronomy. As you stroll through our favorite neighborhoods of El Born and the Barceloneta harbor area with a knowledgeable guide, you’ll enjoy a typical Catalan pastry from the city’s oldest bakery, sample traditional tapas, eat authentic paëlla, compare top quality jamóns, cheeses, olive oils, and much much more. There will even be a secret dish waiting for you! Gain an understanding of the local cuisine while satisfying your taste buds.

 

 

Plan ahead for the trip of a lifetime  – January 2022

    You might not think so right now, but travel will be returning in a big way and those who plan now will reap the benefits. As the pandemic fades, try to be one of the first to make a trip to Barcelona and enjoy it in a blissfully uncrowded way. Try making a detailed yet fluid itinerary without precise dates. Pencil in the days of the week only, noting which of your preferred sights are closed on Sundays or Mondays, etc. This will give you a basic framework on which to build your dream journey.  

     The more you can plan beforehand, the better it will be. At Clued In Travel Books we are big believers in having reservations at the restaurants we most desire rather than settling for our second or third choices. Dinner reservations are especially likely to fill up if not made in advance. As for the best sights, well, these must be booked ahead (due to the requirements of contactless service.) And with absolutely everyone now booking ahead, these too are more likely to sell out.

    Travelers visiting our particular website probably understand this so we won’t beat a dead horse. If you are the type of traveler who likes to go somewhere with no plans or reservations in order to just see where fate takes you, we say, “Good luck and bless your heart.”

    So, grab one of our travel books and peruse through it to the end. You’ll be shocked at how a city you knew nothing about is suddenly as familiar as can be.  It’s almost magical.  

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

    The folks here at Clued In Travel Books wish you and yours a wonderful and safe holiday season filled with lots of love and lots of food. If you avoid conversations about religion, politics, and mask mandates you’ll be just fine! Let’s hope we get back to some normalcy in 2022, especially in regard to travel. It’s what we live for.

All the best to all of you, Dean & Andie

Barcelona’s Christmas Market

 

 

Our brand new edition for 2022 is on Amazon now! – December 2021

    Some things have changed in Barcelona, but much has stayed the same.  We think it’s actually better than ever and are very happy to announce our brand new version of Clued In Barcelona for 2022. Use the link above to see its dedicated product page because it’s super-fun and has some new surprises.  Let’s just call it the best one  we’ve ever written!    

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Enjoy fall to the fullest in Barcelona! – November 2021

    If you like to really explore a city without the tourist crowds, head to Barcelona this month. There’s a lot going on and you can do it all just like a local! Whether it’s taking in an exciting soccer game, experiencing the Sagrada Familia cathedral, discovering fabulous music at the annual jazz festival, ice-skating in a huge plaza, or seeing the city’s holiday lights presentation, you will be very welcome. You might even make a new friend or two at one of their Christmas Markets.

Barcelona’s ice skating rink

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Summer Happenings – July 2021

   After a very long eighteen months of pandemic, Barcelona’s Theatre season has finally been announced. The magnificent Palau de la Música is simply bursting with a calendar of upcoming performances that range from flamenco to Bach to Spanish Guitar. If you are in Catalunya or will be soon, be sure to snag a ticket to one of these. And since the Palau is also a UNESCO Heritage Site, it’s a definite win-win. The city’s opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu has also resumed its performances.  So fun!

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Gran Teatre

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Taxi Clues for Barcelona – March 2020 

     Since some travelers are looking to avoid crowds and mass transit this spring, we’re providing at-a-glace info regarding official taxi cabs in Barcelona. While not as inexpensive, a taxi will make you feel more confident and get you where you’re going in style. And if your party is more than a single rider, it can be a great value. We always budget it in!

  • Only hire the city’s official, metered, black and yellow taxis. You can hail a taxi from any Barcelona curbside, as long as it’s not too near an official taxi queue. They must be “available” of course, with their green roof light lit up. Don’t worry about the numbers 1 or 2 being lit up as this does not pertain to anything that waiting passengers need to know.
  • Most taxi fares within central Barcelona range between €5 to €10 and tipping is not necessary. They do take credit cards, but always have cash on you in case their credit machine isn’t functioning or can’t find a signal.
  • Most of the city’s cab drivers resist speaking in English or Spanish, and will express in Catalan that they do not understand the address you’re giving them. Be ready to show them a printed address, either on your phone or on a piece of paper. The meter is already running while you have this often confusing discussion, even though the taxi has not moved.
  • Do not play with your smart phone while inside a taxi, unless you’re on Google Maps watching the progress of your ride. If you don’t pay attention, many drivers will complete a long, circular route before finally taking you to your destination and you’ll never even know it. They count on you not seeing the same buildings passing by a second time. They may also try to take a longer route than was needed so be aware.
  • Do not expect cab drivers to change a €50 or €100 note; they are not required to, and the more dishonest ones will give you back €20 notes that are merely color copies of euros. These fake bills will not have the required foil strip running through them but you won’t notice when you’re busy getting out of the back of a dark taxi at night.
  • If a taxi is called to your hotel or restaurant, it will already have its meter running from when it started to come get you. Don’t be alarmed by this as it’s completely legal and is the norm.
  • Official taxi queues can be found near main plazas or sights, so note where they are in your area is case you need one quickly at some point. 
  • Supplements are imposed on top of the timed fare, such as late night fees, weekend fees, etc. Watch out for meters that seem suspicious in their pricing. For instance, the meter should never show a large supplement fee of €10. See below for specific pricing at the time of publishing. If there’s any confusion regarding your fare, remember that the current rates and surcharges are clearly displayed on window stickers at the back of every cab.
  • All of the problems mentioned above can be avoided by telling the cab driver when you first enter his/her taxi that you’ll need a paper machine receipt at the end of the ride. Make sure the driver acknowledges this and does not indicate that the printer is broken. If so, exit the taxi and find another. Keep this receipt in case you have a problem; it identifies the cab and the driver and is in place to actually help keep them honest.

The initial minimum fare is €2.15,  plus the price per kilometer as follows:

€1.13 Workdays: Monday to Friday from 8am and 8pm / €1.34 Overnight: Monday to Friday from 8pm and 8am / €1.40 Weekend: Saturdays, Sundays, & public holidays / €2 Wee hours: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays & holidays from midnight to 6am / €22.10 is the standard one hour “waiting time” fee.

There are no fixed rates to and from the BCN Airport but there will be minimum of €20 for these rides.

Supplemental fees: €1 each for luggage, €2.10 to and from the BCN Airport, Sants Railway Station, the cruise port, or any trade fair

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Our Barcelona NTK – February 2020

     Every so often, we like to add a Need-to-Know for our favorite cities. With a new year and new decade upon us, it’s time to mention where to find some of Barcelona’s best concerts. For us that means the incredibly gorgeous (and declared UNESCO world heritage site) Palau de la Musica which translates simply to “palace of music.” Built in 1905, this theatre near the Gothic Quarter has a handy calendar on its website that makes it easy to see performance offerings for the exact dates of your visit. Since Catalans eat dinner very late at night, this is the prefect city for attending a concert and then dining afterwards. Boasting everything from Flamenco performances to Spanish guitar or even classical ensembles, there’s usually something for everyone. And if you don’t happen to speak Catalan, a musical performance is definitely the way to go . Full disclosure: we don’t much care what the performance is because we just love being inside this wonderful space! Note that there are currently several offerings of Beethoven music because this year is his 250th birthday. Check out the Palau de la Musica here.

Palau-de-la-Musica

 

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Explore your own artistic talent in Barcelona – January 2020

     In a city where modern art is so important, it seems very apropos to take an art class. Discover your talent in a fun one-day intensive held by La Terraza Atico Art School. It includes all the materials you’ll need as well as a catered picnic lunch with wine for the participants.  Taught by English-speaking, professional artist Paul, beginners and experts alike will enjoy this highly creative plein-air watercolors workshop. Create your own masterpiece of a Barcelona view in this informative, three hour experience. Okay all you artistic-types, let’s do this!

Painting in Barcelona

 

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Where to enjoy an amazing holiday dinner – December 2019

     We love having a meal with a festive menu at holiday time, and in Barcelona that means Botafumeiro restaurant north of the old town in the Gracia neighborhood. They serve up impressive fish and meat offerings, and are known for fresh seafood platters that will knock your socks off. You can enjoy a meal on Christmas Eve if you don’t mind dining in the afternoon, and are open late on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve.  This is our idea of ringing in the new year right!

Seafood Platter

 

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Enjoy great mixology in the El Born neighborhood – November 2019

     Whether you’ll be staying in the city center or not, a visit to the quaint streets of El Born is totally worth your time. Already our favorite area, we now have a new reason to go there. The Collage Art & Social Club bar has some of the best and most unique cocktails in town and its colorful decor will list your spirits as nothing else can. Check it out at the website above, or click here to see some of their amazing creations. These might just be the best cocktails in Spain!

Collage Cocktail Bar

 

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Try to escape from the Ouija Room – October 2019

    Our recommendations for Barcelona in the fall usually include gallery openings or new restaurants, but our new series of “Bored In” travel books have inspired us to go in a spookier direction this year. Below is one of the creepy places you can visit that will be included in the upcoming Bored in Barcelona –Awesome Experiences for the Repeat Visitor:

     If you like to be terrified and have never tried an Escape Room before, you’re in for a treat. The city’s most admired (and challenging) one is called the Jigsaw Horror Box, located just a stone’s throw away from the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral.  They offer several different experiences, but their Ouija Room is getting a lot of attention by escape room devotees. There, two to six players will be locked inside rooms that feature spirits, exorcism, occultism, black magic, and voodoo. Be careful not to open doors that you might not be able to close!  Check out their website for more info here.

ouijahorror box

 

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It’s the start of the social season in Barcelona/ September 2019

     There’s a lot going on in the Catalonian capital so if you’re planning to visit during the fall season, snag a ticket to a flamenco performance or jazz concert because this city has it all.  September also means it’s time for the city-wide celebration of La Mercè. Held from September 20-24, 2019, it’s in honor of Barcelona’s patron saint and boasts human towers as well as giants, dragons, and big-headed, papier-mâché creatures in the Plaça Sant Jaume. The Saturday night of the event is the biggest celebration of all and will feature fireworks. The final parade in the Barri Gòtic is popular so plan ahead if you want a good spot.

La-Merce-Festival

 

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Reflect on this for awhile/ August 2019 

     We’re not sure what to bring to your attention, Hotel Ohla’s incredible rooftop restaurant and infinity pool, or the accommodations. And wow, what a location! It is truly situated in the exact nexus of four amazing (and important) neighborhoods. You can walk to nearly everything  from there. Of course, with a pool like that you might not want to leave the place. Check it out.

ohla rooftop pool

 

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Update: July 2019 – Happenings

     Barcelona in July is jammed-packed with music festivals and other cultural events! At the fortress high above the beach (known as Montjuic Castle) there will be three Sunday evening concerts aptly called the Vespres de Juliol. These begin promptly at 7pm on July 14, 21, & 28.  July is also the month of the famous Festa Major del Raval, a street festival that features the multiculturalism of the Raval neighborhood. The best days to go are Friday and Saturday, July 12 & 13 though it does continue through the 14th. This festival features a parade of Catalan “giants” made of paper mache.  Also, starting on July 26 for a week, is the annual Festa Major del Poble Sec. There you will gasp at the incredible Castellers who make human towers with their bodies.  In addition is the correfoc, a fire-run which is never for the faint of heart. Your hotel concierge will let you know the best times and streets in which to experience it.

 

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Where to enjoy a picnic in Barcelona– June 2019

       Now that summer has arrived you may want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors rather than be inside a cramped restaurant. Between all the pintxos and tapas bars, its super easy to put together a finger-food feast here.  Heck, give us a bottle of wine, a bag of sliced jamon, and some Spanish asiago cheese and we’re good. (Don’t forget the plastic cups.) But if you want an effortless picnic, perhaps in the city’s beautiful Ciutadella Park, just “click” one together at Picnic! Picnic!  a full-service picnic caterer. Their picnicking selections include delicious food, drinks, large tablecloth, and all necessary utensils in order for you to enjoy a magnificent picnic. It’s delivered to you and everything is for you to keep! As they say in Catalonia, Bon profit!  

barcelona picnic.jpg

 

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Festival in Barceloneta, May 2019

     Barcelona’s festival called the Cors Muts (mute chorus) will be in full swing with a parade through the streets of the waterfront Barceloneta neighborhood from 8am to noon on Saturday, May 19. Humorous groups in costume carrying excessively large objects will take to dancing in the streets. Confetti adds a festive atmosphere and special events will continue through the weekend.   

cors muts

 

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In Focus: Where to brunch in Barcelona / April 2019

    April and May bring amazing weather and moderate temperatures to the Catalonian capital so why not make a celebration of it by enjoying a really delicious brunch… in Barcelona that means a leisurely couple of hours with friends and loved ones at Elsa y Fred. This charming gastrobar, with its cozy leather couches and mid-century details, makes you feel like you’re in someone’s home.  The food is remarkable and is served up daily.  To try their lovely brunch menu, you must book a table on a Saturday or Sunday between 9am to 4pm. Their spectacular tapas and creative egg dishes combine to create a memorable meal with which to start or end a fun weekend.  

 

 

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In Focus: Museu Taurino de la Monumental/ March 2019

          This month we’re featuring local sights that are lesser-known but which are a must-see in our very opinionated view.  In Barcelona, that means the old Monumental bullfighting ring at Plaza de Toros.  Now before you get upset, please know that the Catalonia region outlawed bullfighting in 2012 so this sight is now a museum dedicated to a sport that was part of the culture here for more than three-hundred years. The city boasted two major rings, one of which is now a circular, covered shopping mall. Ugh. The other, called La Monumental, has been preserved as an almost-living museum. It looks the same today as when the bullfighting ended. (Today the place is sometimes used for concerts.) 

      Visitors who want to learn more about the sport of bullfighting can enter for a small fee and roam around the place at their own pace. You’re allowed to stand right in the middle of the ring and get the Matador’s perspective, so to speak. There are also a few exhibit rooms of bullfighters’ gear and hats, vintage posters, and even some actual Matador and Toreador costumes dating back to 1693. Go on a weekday and you might just have the entire place to yourself.  For hours and info, check out our listing in Clued In Barcelona.

 

 

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Update – February 2019

         If you’ve never tried a free walking tour and are curious about Barcelona’s enigmatic Gothic Quarter, why not combine the two? February, with its uncrowded streets, presents the best time of year to enjoy a leisurely stroll.  How can it be free? Well, local freelance guides take pre-booked groups through the medieval section and share the stories of its past. You will see the Roman ruins as well, a more than a few surprises. At the end of the tour, simply tip the guide what you feel it was worth. That’s it! No judgments. Click here to reserve a spot or get more information:  Tour Info

gothic quarter

 

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In Focus: Where to shop the sales/ January 2019

      Like many stores in the U.S., Spain puts its best designer items on sale after the holidays. If you’re visiting Barcelona in January and have the urge to do some shopping (or just want to come home with one really special item) now is the time.  The most famous shopping street in Barcelona is Passeig de Gràcia, also referred to as Paseo de Gràcia,  which runs sort of north/south through the Eixample neighborhood.  For those who are unfamiliar with Barcelona, this means that the best shopping can be found smack-dab in the city center, just north of the famed Gothic Quarter.  This may be helpful to know even if you don’t plan on hitting the boutiques… being aware of this type of location also tells you precisely where a city’s most desirable neighborhood is.  That’s usually where you’ll also find some of the best hotels, and some top-notch restaurants too.

loewe in barcelona

 

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In Focus: New Year’s Eve Barcelona-style

     If you plan on being in Barcelona over the New Year then you’d better start making plans now. The main clubs like Shoko, Opium, or Pacha are situated right on the beach and pump the music on the dancefloor until the wee hours of January 1st. Tickets can be purchased online through their websites. If you’re looking for something just as festive but not as fancy (or expensive) join the locals at either Plaça Catalunya or Plaça d’Espanya. The former is a beautiful, large square where many folks will smash their Cava bottles in the center of it at midnight. We recommend you do not situate yourself in the center! The latter will have a better view of the official fireworks, along with the dancing waters of the Magic Fountain, “Font Màgica.” Either way, be sure to take a bunch of grapes with you. (In Spain it’s considered bad luck if you don’t eat twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Everyone does it.)  If you don’t bring your own and then have a sudden feeling of fear and superstition, you’ll be forced to buy them from private vendors on the street for an inflated price!

barcelona nye

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