Food, Coffee, and People

If you're into seafood, then you'll feel right at home in Barcelona. Almost every eatery in town will have some delicious seafood dish on their menu since the Mediterranean's bounty remains plentiful.

Barcelona's intense Latin culture makes the city a lively and cheerful place. Locals are enthusiastic almost to the point of absurdity. In our opinion, you couldn't find a happier atmosphere than the one you get in Barcelona. A combination of soothing sea breezes, splashes of sun, amazing architecture by Gaudi, and a hearty food and cocktail diet makes the city a definite international favorite. A diverse range of tourists flock to Barcelona each day, and the locals greet them with sublime enthusiasm and warm hospitality

If you would like to engage in an exciting conversation with a local, simply ask them what their first language is. It's the easiest way to open up the not-so-heated debate about the differences between Barcelona and Madrid, Catalunya and Spain, and basically everything Spanish. You'll be glad you asked.

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European Barcelona0Spain0Travel0Guide

· First Things First
· Where to Stay
· Getting Around
· At Your Hotel
· Around Venice
· Food, Coffee, and People
· Musts
· Maybes
· Skip It

First Things First

Barcelona, the truly international, fiercely independent capital of Catalunya, enjoys an envied location on the Mediterranean as well as a venerated position in the world of culture, nightlife, and funky architecture.

Spain is a member of the Eurozone, the group of countries that uses the Euro currency (€). Prices below are expressed in U.S. dollars for convenience; check the rate of exchange prior to arrival in Europe. Catalan is the primary language of the region, though Spanish is the official language. A Spanish phrasebook will be most useful, but try to pick up some Catalan phrases to sweeten your greetings.

Where to Stay

Unlike other major European cities, Barcelona's main rail station, Barcelona-Sants, is a short bus ride from the city center. There are many hotels near the rail station which offer easy access to public transportation and other benefits such as tourist offices and ATMs.

However, most of Barcelon's action takes place in the Ciutat Vella area of south-central Barcelona. This area is slightly more expensive, but it offers easy access to much of what you want to see, do, and eat in Barcelona. The area also encompasses the Gothic Quarter, and Las Ramblas Avenida. You will be close to the port, as well as the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

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Getting to Your Hotel

... From El Prat de Llobregat Inetrnational Airport
Aerobus provides an inexpensive bus ride to the city center. You can hop on for about $5 for a 40-minute ride to Place de Catalunya, in the center of town.

Otherwise, try the RENFE trains for a little less money and a little more convenience. It's a one-seat, 20-minute ride to Estacio Barcelona-Sants or Place de Catalunya.

Late at night, look for bus EN from the airport to Place de Espana, then jump in a taxi from there to your destination.

... From Estacio Barcelona-Sants
Simple. Stop at the tourist office inside the station and pick up a city map. Then, take the N14 Nitbus to Place de Catalunya and either walk or hop in a cab to your destination.

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At Your Hotel

Pick up a free city map and other helpful information. City information can usually be obtained in hotel lobbies or from the front desk.

Check in, freshen up, and, with your bags unpacked, your room key in your pocket, and some euros to spare, you're ready to take on Barcelona!

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Around Barcelona

You won't feel rushed in Barcelona. Despite being a large city, life moves at a more laid-back, small town feel. And with everything from beaches to museums, you'll find a diverse amount of activities to keep you enthralled with the Catalunya culture. For your reading pleasure, we have compiled a list of must-see sights. And if you've got the time, we've incuded a few that are highly worthwhile. On with the list!

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Musts:

Las Ramblas: The good thing about Barcelona's favorite street is that it's a frequented by locals as well as tourists. Shops, cafes, kiosks, and, arguably Barcelona's best attraction (people) are everywhere. The best part is that it's always open and it's free...until you decide to go shopping!

Barri Gotic: The Gothic Quarter is where to find the Cathedral de la Seu, the Picasso Museum, and the Barcelona City History Museum. You can tackle them all in a day if you've got the ambition.

Modernisme: The city has designated a very well-mapped Ruta del Modernisme. Along the route are the highlights of Gaudi and Moderisme architecture, including the Palau Guell, Parc Guell, Casa Mila, La Sagrada Familia, Casa-Museu Gaudi, Palau de la Musica, and the Museo de Arte Moderno, along with many others. The $7 Ruta del Modernisme pass allows for half-price admission to many attractions along the route. Passes, guides, and maps are available at the Casa Lleo Morera.

Montjuic: Barcelona's once-vital fortress sits atop Montjuic, and is now home to several museums, the Olympic arena, and unbeatable views of the city.

Boqueria: Off Las Ramblas near the Liceu metro station is Barcelona's finest market. You can't beat it for wine, cheese, bread, fresh fish, and produce, along with a revolving selection of fresh flowers, baked goods, and other items. Save time for a picnic with the bounty from the Boqueria.

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Maybes:

Port Vell: A huge reconstruction project at the port area has focused attention as much on the sea as had been focused on the Ramblas and other, interior points in the city. These days, the area around the port hosts very scenic, if somewhat pricey, cafes and shops. It's a must for the atmosphere as well as the fantastic views back of the city and Montjuic.

An Olympic Swim: Well, it's not a huge secret, but not too many people know about it. For a few euros, you may don your thong and dive into the not-just-Olympic-size but actual Olympic pool from the 1992 Games. Up on Montjuic, look for Piscinas Bernat Picornell on the Avenida l'Estadi.

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Skip It

They put the "spring" in Springfield, and every city has 'em. The not-so-famous El Raval is the closest thing to a red light district Barcelona sees these days. Just before the Olympics, all the hookers and drug dealers were rounded up. The area was cleaned up a little and since 1992 has attracted a more Bohemian crowd. There are few tourist attractions here, and it's not nearly as dangerous as it once was, but most often what gets people here is the lore of the area. It wasn't as exciting as it was made out to be, and today it can be a little sketchy, especially after dark. If your curiosity still has the best of you, leave your bag at home and go with one or two good, big, scary friends.

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