Thursday, October 1

El Vaso de Oro: Authentic La Barceloneta Style Tapas

They say that an image is worth a thousand words, so see for yourselves in a nutshell all that El Vaso de Oro can give you and don't just take my word for granted. Notice that the place is crowded with people that look pretty satisfied with the quality of the food, the special charm of the place and the friendly professional waiters (that one leaning on the counter, is an authentic showman and almost the soul of the bar). But let's go with the food, cause no matter how warm the atmosphere is, you go there to entertain your stomach and then let your mind do the rest. El Vaso de Oro is well known for its Solomillo con Foie (Sirloin and foie gras), which is highly recommended but it also serves great Ensaladilla Rusa or delicious croquettes. Besides that, you can try their Patatas Bravas (fried diced potatoes with spicy sauce) or the extense variety of seafood and why not their good serrano ham. Considering they have an exquisite draft beer of their own and the fact that they really know how to pour one in a flute glass, I can say that what you really have to worry about is your diet and how sober you'll get back home. All in all, this is a small and rather noisy bar with an attractive decoration and a lot of history behind. Be prepared to eat while standing behind other lucky customers that take long to leave their seats. Be prepared to fight a little bit to be heard and served, but rest assured that you will enjoy good tapas in a traditional La Barceloneta neighbourhood style. 

El Vaso de Oro: Address: Carrer Balboa, 6
Phone: +34 933 19 30 98

Monday, August 24

Cloister at Santa Maria de Santes Creus Monastery, Tarragona, Catalonia

This splendid Gothic cloister arcade can be admired at one of the gems of Cistercian art in Catalonia, the Santa Maria de Santes Creus monastery (1160). Cistercian architecture is well known for its austerity, following the precepts of Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (St. Bernard), who was against any sort of superfluous adornment that distracted monks from their religious path. Although the original cloister was Romanesque in style, most of it was demolished and replaced by this sober but admirable Gothic architecture. Santes Creus is not the only Cistercian monastery built throughout the 12th century in Catalonia there are also the monastery of Poblet (1150) and Vallbona de les Monges (1157). Santa Maria de les Santes Creus holds the royal tombs of Peter the Great and of James II and his wife Blanca of Anjou, as well as the great admiral Roger de Llúria. How to go from Barcelona to Santes Creus Monastery

Monday, August 17

New Stained Glass Windows at Sagrada Familia Cathedral

Here is a detail of one of the stain glass windows at Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Many of these stained glass works of art are meant to harmonize with the light according to the season and the hour of day. Inside the cathedral, you notice that on the Nativity side green and blue tones are predominant, colors that announce Jesus birth, in opposition to red, yellow and orange on the Passion side. New stain glass has been designed by artist Joan Vila-Grau following strict original indications by Gaudi.

Monday, August 3

Quick Tips for Choosing a Hotel in Barcelona

Jorge Franganillo

Whenever you book a trip, one of the most important decisions to make is where to stay. Even if you're hoping to spend your time out and about, a good night's sleep is essential. You don't want to be kept awake by partying downstairs, next door or outside. And you certainly don't want to spend your time in Barcelona staying in a dirty or unsafe room. Whether you go for cheap and cheerful, or you're looking for the ultimate luxury, choosing the right hotel could make or break your vacation. Try using the tips below to pick the right place for you and have an enjoyable time in Barcelona.

Set Your Budget
The first thing you should decide is how much money you want to spend on your hotel. If money is no object, you can look at four and five-star hotels that have everything you could need. But if you need to watch your wallet, it's better to set yourself a budget. There are different levels of accommodation you could choose from, from hostels or pensions to budget and luxury hotels. If you want to stick to somewhere in the middle, look at three-star hotels.

Choose Your Requirements
You need to think about what you're looking for in a hotel. Barcelona has a lot to offer in terms of accommodation, so narrowing down your wishes will help. Perhaps you have to have a pool, or you want somewhere with a bar. Are you looking for a hotel in a certain location or one with a gym? Remember that the price will be influenced by the location and facilities. So don't expect to find everything you could ever need at a budget hotel.

Use Booking Sites
The easiest way to find a Barcelona hotel that's perfect for you is to use booking sites. Visit Venere or a similar site and browse through the many hotels available. You'll be able to look at photos and read information about each hotel. Then you can book your stay without having to leave the site. Most sites also have ratings and reviews too, so you can see what other guests thought.

Check the Photos
Having a look at a hotel's photos is always a good idea. If you love photography, it's an even better idea. You could find a hotel that's perfect for taking a few shots. If you can, try to find photos taken by guests too. Doing so will give you a more accurate picture of the state of the hotel, and not just a carefully-controlled professional image.

Read Reviews
It may seem obvious, but reading hotel reviews is essential. You don't want to check into an awful establishment, only to find it could have been avoided if you had read the reviews. However, they're less important for more expensive hotels. And if you want to stay closer to the center of Barcelona, you probably won't find anywhere horrible.

There are lots of hotels to choose from in Barcelona, and some of them are beautiful buildings. Just take your time choosing one to make sure you don't get duped.