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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Top 5 Alternative Things to do in Barcelona



Barcelona attracts millions of visitors every year, and it has some amazing places that you can visit. However, there is so much more to see than just the obvious attractions. Barcelona is buzzing with restaurants, bars and a few places you might not have heard about much before. For the aspiring traveler or blogger, your readers will love the idea of seeing these alternatives that are not as busy with the usual tourists.

Sub-Zero Beach Bar

When you are on the beach in Barcelona, one thing you can almost always count on is heat. However, there is a place where you might want to wrap up a little. Located on the beach at Port Olympic, you can drink vodka from a frozen glass, take a look at the beautiful ice sculptures and cool off after a hot day sightseeing.

Steel Donkey Tour

You won’t be riding a steel donkey as such, it is actually another name for a bicycle, but the tour part is correct. These tours are not your typical Barcelona trips they take in many of the back streets in El Borne, the village district of Gracia and the old ruins or Poblenou. Along the way, you are treated to flea markets, squat houses and recycled workshops. There are plenty of photo opportunities for you to share, you can create a poster of your favorites and post it on social media. It is a big hit with those looking to see other parts of the city, and it is a fun-filled day out in its own right.

Make Your Own Cava

One thing that anyone who goes to Spain will want to try is their world-famous Cava. However, with this experience, you can do more than taste it, you can try your hand at creating your own. Take a trip by train to a 1,000-year-old farmhouse in the Penedes wine region in Spain. You can try a variety of wines and then get the chance to bottle your own and apply your custom-made label. There are a few such places as this in Spain so even if you cannot leave the city, you can still have the same experience.

The Escape Rooms

If you like solving puzzles and have a few friends with you, why not try one of the many companies that have escape rooms in the city. They have many scenarios to choose from, and along the way, you will be required to crack codes and find missing keys. Although this isn’t uniquely Barcelona, it is good fun, and it will pass a nice afternoon.

e-bikes

If you are fed up trying to get around the city on, then the Barcelona e-bikes might just be what you need. They are bikes that have a battery powered motor attached; it gives you enough power to ride up and down the hills easily. It also lets you get around the city without having to sit in traffic or on a hot coach. These are just a few of the many things you can do in Barcelona without having to visit the main tourist attractions or go too far outside the city.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Catalan Olives and Where to Buy Best Olive Oil in Barcelona

Catalan-Pickled-Olives

Olives and the oil extracted from them are the very essence of Mediterranean countries. They permeate our traditions, our idiosyncrasy and our very existence, since they give us health too. Wild olives were collected by Neolithic peoples as early as the 8th millennium BC. Its trees were grown even before language came to life. Shrub-like "feral" olives still exist in the Middle East and represent the original stock from which all other olives are descended. 

Oil was used to anoint athletes after winning or was applied to the dead. Olive oil purifies and soothes the soul, cleanses the mind. Does that mean that if you use the extra virgin kind, would you be cleaner?. I digress. By the way, virgin or extra virgin, means that you do not use chemicals to produce it, that you get the oil just by pressing the olives. 

Catalan-Pickled-Black-Olives

In Catalonia, there are many varieties of olives that are cultivated across the region. Among them you have the picual (very common and responsible for 25 % of all oil in the world), the empeltre (black) , the arbequina (smaller, very tasty and one of my favorites). Also cornicabra, blanqueta, farga, manzanilla fina and sevillana just to mention some. 

Before buying olive oil you should know that some of them really make the difference. There is good Andalusian oil, and there is good Catalan oil, and so on. I have bought myself extremely good olive oil in Priego, Cordoba for example and have found good rivals many times in oils produced in Lleida, Catalonia. 

Here is a good article on where to buy excellent olive oil in Barcelona  

But where to buy the olives? I recommend you visit L'oliveria de Sant Antoni  follow the link for details.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Becoming a Pubilla, An Ancestral Tradition in Catalonia

Pubillas


Every year pubilles and hereus from all over Catalonia participate in a contest summoned by organizations that promote traditions of the past in the region. As was described in a previous post in Barcelona Photoblog, a pubilla is the heiress in a family where there is no son. She is the eldest daughter, must be between 16 and 21 years old and inherits the home and the estate. The hereu, is the heir, in those cases when there is a son. Families with pubilles were supposed to receive a contribution from the family of the groom, that unlike dowries, were voluntary. This contribution was called aixovar, from Arabic, assovár.

Being elected as the pubilla or the hereu of their municipality or in a final national contest, the representatives of all Catalonia, is a privilege for these youngsters who feel proud of defending the traditions of their ancestors. They will be honor guests in all minor festivities concerning these matters around Catalonia and will be received by the president of the Catalan parliament. A visit to Montserrat Monastery will be a must in their schedule.

Check also this post about Pubilles and Hereus or this one featuring a dancer in traditional dress.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Where to Have Real Italian Ice Cream in Barcelona

Gelaaati Di Marco Italian Ice Cream Barcelona

Although real good Italian ice cream you have to try in Italy, there are some good parlors in Barcelona that keep up with customer expectations.

As with everything in this life, you have genuine things and bad copies, like JFK and Trump for example. There are the touristic spots, the local shops and then there are the authentic venues selling the real thing. Not that I want to harm the well doing of our ice cream vendors, but quality should always be a must for everyone.

Today I will mention my two favorite ice cream parlors offering the real stuff in the city, la creme de la creme. I prefer not to mention which is my second best.

Gelaaati! Di Marco at Carrer de la Llibreteria, 7 near Plaça Sant Jaume Metro Line 4 Yellow

In spite of being located in a well known touristic area, the Gothic quarter or Barri Gotic, this place manages to offer high quality, homemade ice cream in a way that is really appealing to the eye and the stomach. The staff is efficient and friendly and always dressed up for the occasion.

DelaCrem at Carrer d'Enric Granados, 15

In this case, we are talking about a shop in a very quiet street, not too frequented by tourists, that in spite of the small space could be a winner in any prestigious list of ice cream specialists. DelaCrem has a terrace that in summer really makes a difference. Offering less flavors than Gelaaati! Di Marco,  they are always original and offer extremely delicious ice creams. 

You would say I'm crazy because I am talking about ice cream in winter but with this global warming it really does not matter anymore.  

Here is a list of the best ice cream shops in Barcelona via @TimeOutBCN



Ice cream sticks

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mass Tourism in Barcelona and Catalan Crisis According to the Media

Mass Tourism in Barcelona


According to several sources, both local and international, tourism in Barcelona, Catalonia has dropped about 15 percent with respect to the same period last year during the referendum, the violent police repression crisis and the pacific demonstrations of Catalans.

It is evident that figures will not skyrocket in this situation but it must be stressed that this is low season so there is no place for pessimism.

Whoever reads newspaper headlines these days must be aware of one thing that is not perceived from outside this country, the media are always under controlled of certain political groups. After the events of the past days, there are different points of view to evaluate Catalan crisis. Some Catalans have declared a Republic and do not want to follow Spain and its constitution anymore, some other Catalans do believe in the Spanish constitution although they might back up the Republic. There are the ones that are against the Republic, the independence movement but feel more Catalan than Spanish or the ones that feel Spanish but Catalan at the same time. As you see, this is not easy to understand sometimes.

It is not strange then that the media take sides and are biased. Some leftist newspapers have blatantly drifted to more centrist positions or directly flirted with the conservative right. A few are only defending the constitutional rights of Spaniards and thus according to their opinion, of Catalans but there are many who have decided to sell their professional ethic in favor of higher interests who pay their wages.

So summing up, you will hear the word crisis too often, you will hear that Catalan stability is worsening and that economy is breaking up in pieces. Bearing all this in mind, knowing all the pros and cons, I think you are prepared to judge what is really happening in Catalonia and Spain.

Do not be afraid of coming to Barcelona just because of a bunch of headlines written by manipulated newspapers.
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