Linguists at language learning app Babbel share with SilverKris their best tips on what you should do when exploring the largest city of Catalonia.
1. Eat like a local
When in Barcelona, you absolutely must experience all the delicious food that the city has to offer. To eat like locals do, head for markets like Santa Catarina or La Boqueria (below), or small bars and restaurants in neighbourhoods like Gràcia, San Antoni or El Born. Dishes to order include esqueixada, a light salad of salt cod, onions and tomatoes tossed in olive oil; escalivada, which are smoky grilled vegetables, and botifarra amb mongetes, a type of sausage with white beans. Don’t miss the pa amb tomàquet, or “bread with tomato”, a staple of Catalan cuisine. It consists of toasted bread, covered with tomato and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Sometimes, garlic is spread on the bread before the tomato. It is served with cheese and serrano ham, and is usually eaten on its own as tapas, or as an appetiser. If you feel like something sweet, try the crema catalana. Also known as burnt cream, it’s a dessert of rich custard topped with a thin caramel crust.
2. Enjoy vermouth time
Find a nice spot on a terrace close to the beach and order a refreshing vermouth at lunchtime. It’s a fortified wine flavoured with various botanicals, similar to a red martini, and served with olives or chips. The drink can sometimes be so satisfying that people aren’t hungry after. If you still feel like eating more, you will find good paella and quality fish in the restaurants on Passeig Joan de Borbó, which is close to the seaside neighbourhood of La Barceloneta.
3. Watch the sun set at Bunkers del Carmel
Instead of squeezing with all the tourists at Montjuïc or Tibidabo, grab some wine and snacks and head to this former anti-aircraft bunker. Built in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, it is located on the hill of Turó de la Rovirain and has an amazing view of the city. Another great spot to catch the sunset is from the top of the stairs of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia).
4. Prepare to have late meals
Locals eat lunch around 2pm and dinner after 9pm. If you are meeting with a group of local friends, don’t be surprised if the last person arrives at 9.30pm or even later. In Barcelona, the locals stay up late and some of the clubs don’t even open until midnight.
5. Don’t leave without shopping
Barcelona is considered a true shopping mecca. The five-kilometre-long Barcelona Shopping Line stretches from the Old Port to the famous La Rambla, and the Passeig de Gràcia to the Avinguda Diagonal. Stroll through the alleyways of the old quarter of Barri Gòtic (main photo) and step into the boutiques of the old town centre. In the city, look out for fashion brand Custo Barcelona (below). This designer duo’s colourful offerings can be pricey, but one of their T-shirts makes a fine souvenir of your trip to Barcelona.
– TEXT BY CARA YAP
PHOTO: 123RF.COM, INSTAGRAM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.