Welcome to Erin N Ella's Travel Blog!!

All you need to know about Eurotrips;
From budgeting tips to accommodation to food choices and places to go out (and a few other stories...)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barcelona - Land of the Pick Pocketer

(For a quick summary, scroll to the final paragraph)
After a fun and somewhat hyper journey, we finally set foot on Spanish land. What a relief, and may we say, success to have arrived safely in Barcelona. Transferring six girls across the sea is no easy feat.

We finally decided to take the metro to our hostel in the Gothic Barrier located off the famous Las Ramblas. We highly advise buying a train ticket in Barcelona even if you are staying in a central location and only for a couple of days, which we were. It is great to be able to use the ticket whenever you want to travel to various landmarks dotted around the center. Anyway, back to our arrival in Barcelona - as soon as we got off the metro station at Liceu we were greeted by the more unpleasant side of local Spanish culture. Two pick-pocketers were stealthily weaving their way in and out of our group and other metro-travelers. To add to our panic, as soon as we laboriously began to lift our suitcases up what seemed to be 50 steps, a train supervisor told us to stay put since a famous pick-pocketer was milling around at the top of the station. Perhaps its just us, but a small suggestion to the Spanish police would be to sort out the situation, considering they know who is involved, don't ya think?! But, do not worry, pick-pocketing should not deter you from visiting Barcelona. While the issue is admittedly worse in there, it is a common problem practically in every major city. All we can say is- be sensible, keep your money in a safe place that is out of sight, and be especially aware in very crowded areas. Erin, Myra and Simone would highly recommend wearing a money bum-bag at all times (preferably nude coloured as this is least visible and very discrete). Also, beware if you happen to be approached by groups that will try and distract your attention so that they can pick-pocket you (this didn't happen to us but we were given the heads up by others).

View from our balcony
Although we were slightly apprehensive about walking around Las Ramblas and the Gothic Barrier at night, this really is the best place to stay in Barcelona if you want to be right in the heart of this vibrant city - great places to eat (and might we add, rather standard price and even slightly cheap - by London standards - if you choose carefully), great nightlife, vibrant food markets and fantastic sightseeing locations. Our hostel, Galerias Malda, was really brilliant. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of place. Not the cleanest and certainly not luxurious, but perfect for saving money that can otherwise be spent on going out or for a little retail therapy. At about €15 a night it serves its purpose as a place to rest your head, AND, for meeting fantastic people --> shout-out to our American buddies Breck and Brenden. It has a rustic feel, which is reinforced by the Spanish (only!) speaking owners- brilliant for those who want to immerse themselves in local culture. What we certainly noticed during our travels is that choosing a hostel is mainly about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! If you stay too far out of the centre, you compromise time and money spent traveling to all the sights and places to go out at night.

Top of the list places to see and things to do:

Food: for traditional Spanish cooking you can just pick from the countless little restaurants and tapas bars dotted around the area. If you are looking for something cheaper, word of advice, stay away from eating right on Las Ramblas - try finding a nice restaurant on a quieter side-street (most restaurants are usually having some special deal on). For those looking for a good value for money meal which is rather cheap and very filling- Maoz is the place. A falafel joint where you can refill your pita as often as you like (and trust us, did we refill that pita :D).
Pasta Bar, mmmm
For a top quality (and quite cheap) burger it is worth checking out George Orwell square (from memory we think the restaurant is called Oviso Oasis Bar though we are not 100% sure!)- its a lovely little area to stop for lunch and is also a nice family place since there is a little playground. For a wide selection of fresh pasta, sauces and toppings, visit pasta bar - a hip restaurant in the Gothic Barrier with a great ambiance and good food.
Fruit, finallyyyyy!!!
For a fresh boost of fruit and veg (something that is easily lost from a travelers' diet) the local market just off Las Ramblas is the perfect place - from fresh juices, to packed-full fruit boxes, to sweets and nuts, and of course fresh meat, fish and cheese. Its brilliant if you want to get some fresh fruit for breakfast (Simone would suggest buying some muesli from the supermarket to add to the fruit, with yoghurt). See http://dining-guide.net/europe/barcelona.htm for more info.

Nightlife: for a chilled night, you can easily find a bar to hang out in pretty much anywhere. If you want a chance to meet people (most of which will be tourists) and chat but also have a good time dancing and listening to music, then a pub crawl is the choice for you. Most cost around €15 but there is normally a free shot at each pub/bar/club you go to, and more importantly, the Mediterranean venues do not hold back on pouring the alcohol!! To find out about details of these, just walk along Las Ramblas in the evenings and promoters will no doubt approach you. If you are a hard-core party-goer then Barcelona is by far one of our chart toppers.
There are plenty of clubs to choose from - Apollo, BeCool, Razzmatazz, Macarena Beach Club and loads more. These clubs get very crowded, and temperatures soar - particularly in summer. If you like to get lost in the crowd, party HARD, dance to a mixture of House/Old School/Techno and some good old pop music, then this is the perfect scene for you. If you are looking for a more relaxed vibe, with fewer sweaty bodies pressed up against you then STAY AWAY. Another word of warning - people in the Mediterranean smoke inside clubs - so if you cant stand smoke, and cant handle the heat - again, better you stayed away from the clubs and stuck to the bars. Keep your eyes open for beach parties, they are brilliant! If you want to feel like you are in a scene of a popular show like 'The Hills', or just part of the local elite, this is a great choice. Ghoa Beach Party on is up there on the list of parties to attend - a summer event filled with all sorts of characters from all over Spain, and all over the world, dancing by the pool, drinking cocktails and having a good time. Nearby is Macarena Club - a 'rough-around-the-edges sweatbox of a club its an excellent destination for quality, non-commercial dance music. Fact and Clubtura on Wednesdays and Thursdays are particularly good'. For a free party (and who can resist that) Mac Arena Mar Beach Club is easily one of top summer venues - 'the Sunday parties are the pièce de résistance'.

Parc de Guell
Parc de Guell: is certainly a must when visiting Barcelona - interesting history, beautiful architecture and a lovely area to hang out in on a nice summer day.
Sagrada Familia: magnificent on the outside, albeit there are always renovations being carried out so the view is slightly restricted. Entry is rather pricey for hard-core budgeters (about €10.50 for students and about €13 for adults), though Erin thinks entry is worth it to see the beautiful interior. It is important for us to mention that in many of these places information is lacking. So if you want to go in and explore every corner of the church, it is best you asked a ticket officer whether the stairs/elevators are in use and what the charges are. Ella and Dora would not recommend going inside - though devoted art lovers would not miss this sight.
Picasso museum: right in the heart of Barcelona's Gothic Barrier, a really interesting museum to visit since it showcases Picasso's earlier work and skill as a young artist, apart from just the cubist work he is most famous for- it also exhibits Picasso's blue phase. You should leave time to spend a good 2 to 3 hours here.
Cuatro Gatos - a cafe/restaurant famous for its history and great ambiance. As mentioned on their website, Picasso at aged 17 (in 1899) started to frequent the place and carried out his first exhibition in the big room. He also made the poster that was used as a title page of the menu of the house.

Keep your eyes pierced for free museums, there are plenty of those in Barcelona! (To find out more see here http://gospain.about.com/od/barcelon1/qt/free_barcelona.htm)

We highly recommend going on a free-walking tour in each city you visit (shout-out to DUNCAN from the travel Bar who took us around Barcelona). Its a brilliant way for getting to know your local area, especially if you will be sticking around for a few days, but its also interesting to learn a little about the history of each place, not to mention a good chance to meet people from all over. Another tip - go to a travelers bar - you are likely to meet friendly people who also want to have a good time and get a taste of local culture.

Barcelona is a brilliant city to visit whether you want to sight see or just party all nightt looongggg
1. Sightseeing - Parc de Guell, Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, Cuatro Gatos, Free walking tour - go to the travelers bar to find out more
2. Nightlife - Apolo (best on a Monday night - Nasty Mondays), Razzmatazz, Goha beach, Macarena
3. Food - fresh food market, Maoz, Pasta Bar, good old supermarket shopping to save money :D - buy the supermarkets own brand of everything

Quoted sources include the Guardian website and Cuatro Gatos  official website


  1. Im going to Barcelona next week, so this is really helpful. I wanted to know, what exactly was the hostel like?

  2. Its a nice hostel, has a few toilets/shower rooms. If you are looking for cleanliness this isn't really the place, buts its definitely bearable. Very cheap and a nice communal feel to it. And the location is brilliant. Hope that helps!!