Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A Hedonist's Guide to Barcelona: Cafes and Restaurants

So, I didn't spend every waking minute in Barcelona in night clubs...luckily. In keeping with the Spanish way of life, I spent the daylight hours mincing around the city looking for anywhere to sit, ponder and scribble.

I'm going to dive straight in with my favourite place that I went to probably three or four times during my stay there; a little rustic tea house named Caj Chai. Situated in the heart of the Gothic quarter, (in fact it can be a mission to find but persevere because it's worth it!) this little den smells unbelievable the second you walk in and feels like home to me. You're given plenty of choice when it comes to tea to drink, with a plentiful menu littered with exotic options. My personal pick was cinammon black tea, one I ashamedly didn't budge from each time I went. Those who are a little peckish should randomly choose the little Indian and Arabic pastries served. Those a bit more hungry could probably take down a chocolate brownie if they think they can handle the density.

If you're out on a shopping spree in and around the Gothic quarter and fancy re-energising with some carbs, there is great place just off George Orwell Square aptly named Pasta Bar. This tucked away spot provides nicely sized portions, and reasonable priced too. You choose your pasta (some cost more than others but only by a euro or less), your sauce, and then any other accoutrements that take your fancy. Whipped up in a matter of minutes, it will keep you going all afternoon in the Barcelona sun.

Finally, this last place was introduced to me whilst eavesdropping on a conversation the delicious man at the front desk of our hostel was having with some other guests. Caleuche is situated on the other side of La Ramblas, Paral.lel being the closest metro station. It's mouth-watering menu made it hard to choose just one single thing, so myself and a friend of mine ended up having to choose at the last minute and then subsequently sharing. Whilst inching our chairs every so often back into the sunshine as it was moving over us, we ended up staying here for around three hours without even noticing, our bellies nicely full from pizza and salad. If you're staying the HelloBCN, which is just round the corner, ask the front desk for a card for this restaurant and you'll be able to bag some extra food for the same price.

Now I've talked about food, I'm starving...

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Hedonist's Guide to Barcelona: Nightlife

Truth be told, Barcelona was probably the  least productive bit of travelling I have ever done. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was a 'holiday', one of my least favourite and most insulting words. I embraced the pleasure-seeking Spanish life to the max., and ended up partying all night, snoozing 'til midday, recovery and repeat.

So, in terms of tourism, I am useless. In terms of nightclubs, bars, incredible pasta joints and my favourite tea house, there I can help you. So as to not make my posts too long, lets stick to the nightlife first and the more savoury acitivites I will explain at a later date.

We mostly went out with the crowd in our hostel, as they organised club nights for free. Situated right next to Paral.lel metro station are a couple of bars we frequented before hopping in cabs towards the club.

Malverde is a teensy little mojito place that seems like it's always empty until thirty of us from the hostel arrive and then there's hardly room to breathe. The poor barman dreaded the clock striking midnight I'm sure. The beers are cheap at around 2.5 euros, which believe me is nothing in comparison to how much you're about to spend later in the night.

A stones throw away from our hostel is El Petit Apolo, nestled behind the Apollo Theatre (more to come on that tasty gem). With individual beer pumps on each table and the dangerous ability to pour your own drink without having to wait for service, this place was a regular haunt of ours. You're given a number from 1 to 10, representing your table number, and a couple of screens around the place show you how much you've poured and therefore how much you've spent (its around 7 euros a litre). They even turn it into a competition and have first and last place emblazoned across the top of the screen. The tapas here is hit or miss, as is the service. Don't order the Russian salad, tuck into plenty of fries with spicy sauce and be pushy with the staff otherwise you'll never get served.

So, the clubs. Not much of a clubber myself as I prefer quirky bars, Barcelona was a taste of something different for me. Hyde Club and Boardbar are both pretty standard clubs but worth a visit. Both have walkways from the door opening up to a wider dancefloor, Broadbar's is lit up with UV and white lighting which gives it a classy feel. Get ready to spend in both, drink are rarely less than ten euros a pop. Needless to say I stopped drinking on arrival.

The one club that everyone says in a must-do in BCN is Razzmatazz, a.k.a my worst nightmare. It's a huge clubbing complex, with five rooms, an endless number of staircases, and the capacity for tens of thousands of people. Granted the drinks are cheaper, but intimacy is thrown out the window and replaced with black concrete walls and a funny smells that sticks to your clothes. Still worth a go if it's your kind of thing.

Last but most certainly not least, is the Apollo Theatre, and my favourite clubbing destination in Barcelona. I was but seconds away from getting on a bus to a beach club with the rest of the hostel when a certain lady from Manchester next to me pointed out that the building we were standing next to was supposed to be the best indie night in the city. How could I possibly resist? After some sweet-talking to skip the queue (seriously Anna, mad skills) we found ourselves howling Florence and the Machine and Blondie until the wee hours amongst a huge crowd and next to a stage with it's own bar, a very excitable DJ boosting the crowds energy and, mysteriously, a telephone which the DJs used to call...the bartenders? Their mates? Pete Tong?! To this day it annoys me that I don't know what it was for. Anyway, as far as club nights go for me, this I would definitely recommend.

Go forth and enjoy, and drink lots of sangria in the process!

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Another post on Barcelona to come, but whilst I try and shake off this headache and reposses the will to write, check out these mad snaps from photographer James Mollison. I don't want to put up too many in fear of plummeting the sales of Mollisons' book in which they are published, and plagarising the website which I got them from, but here are a few.

There are so many more I wanted to put up and it took me a good half an hour to just chose these, which I see as just as good as the ones I left out but I had to choose! i implore you too take a look at the rest.

Major perspecitve shake-up ensues.

(Also, my birthday's coming up in June and you can buy the book here. Say no more.)

Where would you rather sleep?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

A new perspective

Someone told me the other day that they had been reading a few things on my blog, present and past posts, which raised points that they couldn't agree with more, and others that they disagreed with entirely.

At first there was a tiny pang of fear in my mind that people don't like that I write, and that it is a load of mutterings from the mind of a mad woman. But then rationality kicked in, and I realised that she wasn't saying she didn't like what she read, but that her opinions were different and she still enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Phew, that I can deal with. Over the past year as I have been writing this blog, even my own opinions have changed. Sometimes I look back on previous posts and find myself not entirely agreeing some of the points I made. Part of me dislikes my lack of constant conviction, and I'd prefer consistency throughout my beliefs and expressions. However, I am only 22 after all with a lot to learn and a lot to live in front of me, and if I always stayed the way I was now I would feel so in the dark about the ways of the world.

I never expected everyone to agree with me. In fact that would make a rather dull world if there was no debate, no argument (friendly argument, I must stress). Sometimes I can find myself more interested in things I so firmly disagree with that they anger me, things that make no sense to exist. Like this video for example...

I'll let you all form your own opinions of that one! It is, nonetheless, very interesting to me regardless of my general hatred towards that concept. Likewise, I'm about that start reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I'm not the greatest fan of old Richie, but the fact that his theories have influenced the world drastically is interesting to me, and makes me want to at least be informed as to his beliefs before I continue to dislike him.

I think it is just flattering that something I have created myself, from my own little mind, can provoke thoughts and feelings in other people. If my writing stirs up in you no emotions whatsoever, that would worry me more. Whether you agree with me or not, if it's made you think that is all I can ask for.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Spanish Life

So, I think it's about time I tell you about Barcelona.

The streets I may one day call home...
It's a tricky place to write about because it is, more or less, everything you would expect from a Spanish city. The way of life there is pure pleasure-seeking; laid back, rustic and a little rough around the edges, but all the more beautiful for it.

A guy I met from America had plenty to say how it was different from his city back home, LA. I've never been to that part of the US but as far as he could describe, the focus is on money, and what it can buy. The reason Barcelona seemed so different to him was that it consumed in different ways. People in BCN indulge in things to satisfy their human needs, the best food and wine and the finest company to enjoy it with. It didn't seem that these Catalans were collecting material goods to raise their social status.

Truth is, I did very little sight-seeing whilst I was there, having been a couple of times before. I feel a touch guilty for that but to be honest, Barcelona was the break I needed from various things at home. It was a week long non-stop party-fest. The sangria went down far too smooth in the bar at the bottom of our hostel, Hello BCN.

A pasta parlour we found
with some inventive lighting

I've never found it so difficult to leave a place. I even sat there on my last day looking up rooms to rent and figuring out how much it would cost for me to live there, and when the hell I could do it. I'm taking up Spanish lessons as soon as possible.

I don't think this will be the last I see of this gorgeous Spanish city. I didn't do much sight-seeing but I certainly wandered my way through the streets imagining living in a tiny apartment above a tea house, sitting on my terrace and writing this very blog. One day...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A week to remember...

This post is a bit of an exclusive one for all those incredible people I met over the past week in the Spanish gem of Barcelona. Yes, that's where I've been!

It is funny to think that just over a week ago, all but one of these people were complete strangers to me from all corners of the globe. And yet they have all contributed to one hell of a week in one hell of a city.

Posts on Barcelona to follow, but just a quick message out to all you guys (for the rest of you, this is a bit of an inside joke).

Wherever you go, whatever you do, and until the next time I see you, I love you all and...

Don't be scared.