A wicked weekend in Barcelona
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Did you miss me (or even notice I’d gone)?!
Either way, I’m back – rested, relaxed and still ever so slightly hungover after a long weekend in Barcelona without kids – my noisy, whiny, don’t-want-to-go-to-beddy children who I thought I may throttle on Thursday night, but who I now think are rather nice again. That’s the glory of four days away.
Maybe you’re thinking you need to get away too. In which case, here are my handy tips for making the most of your citybreak…
1/ Don’t feel guilty
You may be the kind of parents who angst about the effect your absence will have on your children. As someone who has been dumping my kids on friends and family for years now without any glaringly adverse effects I say, don’t sweat it. This time round, my 3-year-old couldn’t be bothered to say goodbye or kiss me the day I was leaving, and on my return four days later the first words he uttered were a nonchalant, ‘Hi, where’s Margaret?’ (his occasional if brilliant childminder) before having a hissy fit at the Barcelona football we had the cheek to bring back for him.
2/ Take a guidebook
Like, der and all that. It turns out that iphones are all very well, but honestly it’s a right faff having to squint at miniscule maps on your screen as your mobile runs out of battery and you have no bloody idea where you are or where you need to go. The Rough Guides and Time Outs give you the tourist basics, but there are also some funkier guide books, such as Le Cool (www.lecool.com) and – dammit, a really brilliant one that I can’t remember but will get back to you on – that will really help you get the best out of your break. Not much good if you discover them on your last morning like, ahem, me.
3/ Beware the cocktail waiter
Three days in to our holiday we were feeling exhuberant and frankly a bit cocky about being so well-travelled and sophis until we were handed a £90 tab – £15 a bleedin cocktail! A rudimentary error my dear Juatson.
4/ Stay in an apartment
I love a swish hotel as much as the next girl (probably more!) , but if you’re bombing around a city and just using your bedroom to shower and collapse at the end of the day, it’s better value and more relaxing to have your own gaff. We’ve stayed twice at the two bedroomed Ferran 1 apartment through habitatapartments.com in the Barri Gotic. I’d really recommend it, as it’s the old medieval district, close to the trendy bits of Barcelona like El Born, and 5 minutes from La Rambla (if you like to be run over by a barrage of pedestrians) and 15 minutes amble from the beach. Habitat has loads of lovely apartments in different areas so even if you don’t want to be in the Barri Gotic, it’s worth looking at their website.
5/ Cool places to try out if you’re off to Barcelona, in no real order:
Vostok Printing Shop (vostokshop.eu) – fantastic limited edition prints from the loveliest guy around. Located on a cool street of great shops in El Born.
Wawas (wawasbarcelona.com) – touristy bits done brilliantly, like cool-branded chocolate and mugs, graphic postcards, tapas and olive platters etc.
Boca Grande (bocagrande.cat)
Beautifully presented, glossy, seeringly superficial cocktail bar and restaurant. Fabulous loos complete with DJ booth. Those crippingly expensive cocktails served in a wonderful bar that’s a cross between gentleman’s club, Spanish cathedral and big game hunting (you can just make out the elephant tusks on either side of the mirror on the left in the photo). Dinner was lovely, from the little I can remember.
Ginger (ginger.cat). Art deco cocktail bar in the Barri Gotic, plus tapas and music late in the evening makes this a very pleasant place to get slowly sozzled.
Café de L’Academia . Just round the corner from Ginger with outdoor seating in a lovely little piazza. Fab food at decent prices.
Jamboree jazz club, Plaça Reial.
Plaça Reial is like a tackier version of Covent Garden, with tourists around the perimeter watching each other from their plastic chairs. But it also happens to be the home of Jamboree, one of the best jazz clubs in Spain, a tiny cellar where we saw the most amazing three-piece from New York. Definitely worth checking out.
Taller de Tapas, near Placa del Pi. There are several Taller de Tapas in the city, but this one is happily situated near the Placa del Pi’s artisan market and the 14th century gothic Santa Maria del Pi church. Perfect for lunch.
Ca la Nuri, Barcelona beach.
Love jewellery? You’re a goner then. This addictive little boutique is on the same square as Ginger and Cafe de l’Academia, so you can eye up the baubles over lunch or dinner, then go crazy with the credit card when you’re half-cut.
De nada, mes amigas, de nada!