Archive for the ‘barcelona’ Category

Unique Picnics on Barcelona’s Beaches

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Hit Barcelona's Beaches for a Picnic lunch, the entertainment is FREE

Hit Barcelona's Beaches for a Picnic lunch, the entertainment is FREE

It’s officially beach season in Barcelona. It’s May, but everywhere I go I hear the same thing, “The summer is finally here! It is here to stay!” I agree, it looks as if the rain and cold of this last winter and spring is really gone for good, and it’s time to dust off the bikini, dip myself in sunscreen, and seize the day at the beach.

Picnics in Barcelona, Spain

Picnics in Barcelona, Spain

Not much of a believer in ‘the early bird catches the worm’, I tend to head for the beach later in the day, around 2:30pm, or lunch time. Some say this is the worst time to be at the beach, that this is when the UV-rays are most penetrating, but if you have a sun-umbrella then it doesn’t much matter. I take my lunch with me to the beach, rent a lawn chair and sun-umbrella, and eat my picnic while watching the soft waves of the Mediterranean roll in. Life is good.

If you too want to have a picnic at the beach, but don’t have a kitchen in Barcelona, not to worry. Here are three superb spots that do take away near Barcelona’s shoreline, Barceloneta.

1)Yamane – Asian. Only take-away located in El Born, which is a 10 minute walk from the port and the beach. Here you can choose between tight sushi rolls, Teriyaki, curries, and even some Thai dishes.

About 10 Euros per person depending on how much sushi you can eat.

C/ Allada Vermell, Barcelona, 08002

2) Sant Carles 13 – Mediterranean. I love this place. If you go, you may see me there ordering the stuffed eggplant. Usually they have a veggie option. It’s deli style and for 6 Euros you will get three courses, wrapped up and ready for the seashore.

6 Euros is the special, drinks are more.

C/ Sant Carles 13, Barcelona, 08003 (2 blocks from the beach)

Night picnics can also be fun...

Night picnics can also be fun...

3) Born Seleccio – Mediterranean, Gourmet, Asian. Also in the Born, this shop carries gourmet products from Spain and has a deli. A sushi platter will cost you 8.00 Euros and is ample. They also have traditional pasta dishes, and beverages.

8.00 Euros for the special, and up.

Passeig del Born 34, Barcelona, 08002

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Petite Pension Rooms at San Remo in Barcelona

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

San Remo in Barcelona for Best Budget Stays

San Remo is tiny, but in this case, size doesn’t matter. This charming little Pension is right in the city center in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood, one of the best in the city. This area is safe, elegant, central, and offers lots in the way of cafes, markets, shops and restaurants.

Family-run, San Remo’s caretakers, Rosa Maria, lives on-site, meaning there is always someone around to help you and the vibe is a bit more B&B than hotel. All of the rooms at Remo have TV’s, AC, heating, and full bathrooms. They are simple, but tasteful and clean. There are just 8 rooms at Remo, so if you want to stay here in busy summer months or weekends, then book in advance.

The price is right at Remo, which is probably why it is often full. A single goes for 38 Euros and a double for 48 Euros. There is also an Internet station available for guests, and a cafe on the corner for morning coffees and chocolate croissants.

Staying at Remo, you will also be a stone’s throw away from Passeig de Gracia, where many Gaudi buildings line the street as well as museums such as the Tapies Museum and Palau Robert. From your base at Remo, you’ll be able to walk to most place in the center with little effort.

Price Range: Budget

More on Remo online:

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Best Barcelona Deal in the City Center

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Budget Digs at Hostal Lausanne

Most hotels in the center of Barcelona start at 80 Euros a night and then rise swiftly from there. If you are a couple you couple easily expect to pay 50 Euros each a night in the city for accommodations in a normal hotel. However, if you are open to going without a few conveniences, such as an in-room bathroom, then there are deals to be had in Barcelona, and money to be saved!

A single room with a shared bathroom at Hostal Lausanne goes for just 24 Euros a night – which considering, is a pretty sweet deal. In many places around the city, you will pay the same 24 Euros for a single bed in a shared dormroom with 20 other smelly backpackers.

Sure, the bathroom is shared, but think of it as staying with relatives in a huge house, after all, Hostal Lausanne is family-run. If you just can’t deal with having to share the shower with strangers (not at the same time of course), then pay a bit more at Lausanne and get a single with an in-suite bathroom for 35 Euros or a double for 48 Euros.

Hostal Lausanne is right in the center of the city, a few blocks off Plaza Cataluna. Here you will be near the Metro, buses, airport bus, many restaurants and many of Barcelona’s most important sites.

For more on booking at Lausanne, see their web site:

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Budget Stays in Barcelona, Spain – Gat Xino

Friday, May 7th, 2010
Gat Xino in El Raval, Barcelona

Gat Xino in El Raval, Barcelona

Gat Rooms is a hotel chain that has hostels and hotels all over Europe. With two hotels in Barcelona, Gat Xino and Gat Raval, you have two budget options with this cool company in the Catalan capital city.

Gat means Cat in Catalan and a slick green cat’s eye is the logo for this modern chain. I say chain, but Gat Room is no Best Western, they are completely unique, a bit bohemian, and definitely design. Gat Xino’s rooms have flat-screen TV’s, original artwork, comfy beds, balconies, and modern well-equipped bathrooms.

I often forget about these Gat Rooms when I have people coming to visit me here in Barcelona, but really, aside from Fashion House they are my favorite budget options in Barcelona. It is only fair to mention the neighborhood that Gat Xino is in. El Raval, the barrio where you’ll find these hotels-hostels, is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is a bit rough around the edges in parts, and it is best to stay on the main streets where there are tons of happening bars, restaurants, cafes and eclectic shops.

There’s a University in El Raval and the vibe here is young, arty, alternative…I like it and if you are up for some late nights of bar hoping, then going out in El Raval and staying in Gat Xino will make your evening easier. Staying at Gat Xino you are also near the MACBA and CCCB, Barcelona’s contemporary art museums.

Price Range: Budget

More on Gat Xino and Gat Rooms online here:

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

The Most Romantic Day in Barcelona Calls for Neri Hotel

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Sant Jordi's Day is the day of the rose in Barcelona

Sant Jordi's Day is the day of the rose in Barcelona

Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in Spain (OK, it is celebrated by some, but it is an import holiday, like Halloween). In Barcelona, the most romantic day of the year is not in February but in the springtime, on  the 23rd of April. Today is Sant Jordi’s Day (St. George’s Day, from St George and the Dragon, remember?), and it is one of my favorite Catalan holidays.

Instead of having chocolates and valentines, men give the important women in their lives one single red rose, and women give the men in their lives a book. Clearly, this is not an even trade off, and nowadays women may also get books, but men don’t seem to be getting any roses.

I believe that the secret to long-lasting love is the element of surprise and romantic getaways (and all that communicating and compromise stuff, too). This St Jordi’s if I was trying to impress my main-squeeze I would take him or her to Boutique Hotel Neri for a romantic dinner and a night of bubble baths and cava in one of their deluxe suites.

Neri is located in Barcelona’s old Jewish Quarter on one of the quietest and most enchanting plazas in the city. Located inside a 18th century palace, a stay at this fabulous hotel will make you feel like the king or queen you are, at least for one evening. The hotel has 22 rooms,  3 of which are Jr Suites and 1 Suite.

If staying at Neri, you will be close to where all the action is today. On St. Jodi’s Day, the streets of Barcelona fill with lovers, young and old, plus rose vendors and authors signing books and shops selling books along the streets. This is one romantic day you will not want to miss.

Hotel Neri is in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Hotel Neri is in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Felic Sant Jordi!

See more on booking at Neri here:

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Where Less is Lux…One Great Barcelona Hotel

Monday, April 19th, 2010
Praktik is near many Gaudi buildings in Barcelona

Praktik is near many Gaudi buildings in Barcelona

I live in Barcelona, and so am opinionated about hotels in the city. There are many, and indeed, it can be hard to choose. My Barcelona hotel rules are to stay clear of La Rambla, and Pl. Catalunya, because these areas are overpriced and noisy.

But Hotel Praktik breaks my rules. It is right in the center of the city, and its gorgeous. It is also a boutique hotel, and I have a special love for boutique hotels, because they are intimate and often unique.  Barcelona is known for its Modernista architecture, which was Gaudi’s style. Praktik Hotel is located in a Modernista building designed by architect Villar i Comona, and is right down the street from some of the city’s most important Modernista sites. Those who love art and architecture will feel at home at Praktik Hotel.

The rooms at Praktik are reasonably priced and at the time of this writing the hotel was offering specials on rooms starting at 80 Euros, which is a pretty good deal for the center of the city. Though this area is touristy, staying at Praktik guests will be close to the metro, bus, train and many bars and restaurants.

On La Rambla de Catalunya, Praktik is in the center of it all

On La Rambla de Catalunya, Praktik is in the center of it all

See more on this unique boutique online

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is a guest post.

If you want a vacation that’s filled with fun, excitement and adventure, try out things you’ve never tried before. There’s no point trotting down beaten tracks and going through the motions like other tourists do. If you’re a foodie, taste the local cuisine, even if the food that arrives on the plate scares you. If you’ve never stayed in hotels other than 5-star or similar, check into a backpacker hotel and see how it goes. There are so many things you can do to add spice to your vacation. Only, you’ve got to have the guts to make your holiday exciting and worth the dough you spend. Actually, your holidays can get to be more fun, even if you simply ape the locals and do all the stuff they do.

Talking about excitement, if you haven’t tried riding a scooter on a holiday, then you’ve not made the fun tourist grade, yet. Scooters are zippy and loads of fun. Don’t let their diminutive sizes (some look like big mice) fool you. Some of these dainty machines pack quite a punch. Though not of the Harley type, riding a scooter can be quite a thrill and pleasure if you know where and when to ride one. So we thought we’ll just give you a ride on our pillion and listed 5 places where we think you can have the best scooter rides on your vacation.

bermuda Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

1. Bermuda

Bermuda offers you no rental cars, so you’re left with three choices apart from walking, crawling, or swimming. Ferries, buses, taxies and scooters. Forget the first three because we don’t want the regular stuff, remember? The first thing you’d notice if you’re an American tourist is that the Bermudans drive funny on the road. If you don’t want to be splattered on the sidewalk, you’d better drive on the left side, too…just as the locals do. Bermuda isn’t a big place, and there are only 3 main roads here. If you drive your scooter around the North Shore, South Shore, and Middle roads, you’ll pretty much see everything this place has to offer. But riding a scooter on the small winding roads of Bermuda is in itself an experience. The warm breeze from the Caribbean Sea on your face will please you no end as you make your way down the main roads or the winding alleys. Scooter rentals are in plenty and much cheaper than taxis. The best thing is…most rentals will deliver your scooter to your hotel, give lessons on driving if needed, and pick up the scooter from the same place. The South Shore Road is the one you should take if you want to enjoy the most panoramic scenes of Bermuda on a single stretch. So the next time you’re in Bermuda, have a scooter ride ready and waiting for you at the airport.

key west

2. Key West, Florida

If you don’t want to drive on the left side in Bermuda, try driving a scooter in some place closer to home. And if you thought that scooters aren’t ideal choices for zooming around in American cities, check out Key West, Florida. This is one place in America where going around in a scooter is considered hip and happening. If you’re already in Key West and if the balmy weather, tropical landscape, active nightlife, and thriving beaches don’t excite you enough, take a scooter for hire and zip around the city. A scooter ride in Key West is just what the doc ordered to get the adrenaline pumping again. And we’re not talking about excitement of the dangerous variety—most scooter drivers are as sensible as motorists in other cities (which is not saying much about road safety)—but the fact remains streets in Key West are as safe or unsafe as any other American city streets, and driving a scooter doesn’t add to the dangers one bit. In fact, you’ll see a lot of people going around in scooters, and you’ll find many scooter rentals in the city stuffed with a range of these little, motorized gizmos. One huge plus for people that hire scooters is the parking spaces they’ll find, and this is akin to getting VIP passes to the Super Bowl because Key West can get pretty jammed with tourists during the busy seasons, and finding parking spaces for your cars is next to impossible. So if Key West is your destination for your next vacation, scooters won’t be just fun rides—they’re absolute necessities!

hawaii Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

3. Hawaii

Another place you might want to try if you’re looking to be the scooter explorer this vacation…is Hawaii. Take a flight or a cruise to the Aloha state and hop on to the first scooter you find on arrival. Scooters in Hawaii aren’t about parking hassles, it’s more than that. It’s culture, its fun, it’s Hawaii! C’mon, three piece suits and luxury cars are so not happening in Hawaii. It is bare bodies (well, almost, don’t get your hopes up), flippers, and scooters all the way. Don’t be a fashion outcaste in Hawaii and hire a scooter the moment you land in the land of succulent pineapples. The back roads and streets of Hawaii are perfect for scooter rides, and seeing the sights and doing the dos are so much better on the back of a scooter than in a claustrophobic car. Quaint hamlets and roadside coffee shops are more accessible if you’re on a scooter. Diamond Head or Pearl Harbor, Waikiki or Honolulu, doing a slow 30 miles an hour gives you a better chance to imbibe the spirit of Hawaii and strike up a friendship with local folks. So, the next time you’re in Hawaii, remember the 3 golden rules. Hire a scooter, put a smile on your face, and say Aloha to everyone as you whiz past them on your scooter!

rome Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

Piazza dei Spagna © Vladimir Fofanov

4. Rome, Italy

Some guy once said, “When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The problem is…nobody actually listens to this guy, anymore. When tourists arrive in Rome, they forget the golden saying and just go through the grind until it’s time for the flight back home. BUT; the smart tourist always does what the Romans do. The cool ones always hire a scooter and this is exactly what the Romans do. Italians are simply scooter crazy, and you can’t blame these good people because Italy is the land of the Vespas (scooters from Piaggio), and off course—the pizza and the leaning tower of Pisa—among many other things. When you go around Rome, you can see the first one in all colors, shapes and sizes. Even the prized Pizza is transported and delivered across the city in scooters. Though Rome is an ultra modern city now, the city still retains the cobbled streets, narrow alleys, and buildings of historic times. Most streets in the old quarters are one way, and getting around the city in a car might get you stuck in a jam. You can only have a complete ‘Roman Holiday’ if you can access all the alleys and the nooks and corners of Rome. Churches, museums, and monuments are what the regular tourists do; for tourists that are looking for the unusual and extraordinary, explore the unseen and unheard of Rome, on a scooter.

barcelona Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

5. Barcelona, Spain

Many people feel that if you see one city in Europe, you’ve seen all the cities of the continent. Can’t blame them since most cities across Europe have similar architecture and culture, and even the countryside looks the same. There’s a visible difference between the colder north and the warm Mediterranean south in terms of the landscape, but the architecture and general culture remain the same. London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Geneva, Oslo or Madrid, most places have the same feel in the air and more or less share the same essence. But Barcelona—Barcelona is different; Barcelona is magical; Barcelona is unique.  That’s not to say other European cities are boring, but Barcelona is Barcelona. The capital of the Catalan province or Catalunya as the Spanish call this region, Barcelona strikes you as distinct the moment you arrive in the city. And what makes Barcelona more special apart from the squares which the Spanish refer to as Piazzas, the long cobbled roads with souvenir shops on the sides, and street shows on 24/7 are the nifty scooters you’ll find in plenty. Barcelonans simply adore their scooters, and the tourists that come down here have borrowed the passion of the local folks for these gizmos. That’s why you’d see more tourists on scooters than even the local people, nowadays. Scooters also offer practical solutions for traffic congestions and budget worries in Barcelona. The whole city is full of squares and thoroughfares, and the Spanish people prefer to take it easy; so never be in a hurry when you tour Barcelona and go easy on the engine of your scooter. The Spaniards believe there’s always a time for everything and there’s no point hurrying to get there. Perhaps, it’s time for you to park your scooter on the sidewalk and take a siesta just like the locals. Don’t worry about the sights of Barcelona running away from you; there’s always plenty of time, and Barcelona always takes good care of its guests who go around on scooters!

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