Places To Avoid, Barcelona
The corte ingles may seem like it has everything,(supermarket, department store etc.) but you should be warned that it is much more expensive than other clothing stores and other supermarkets.
Unique Suggestions: If you need food and it's the only place around it's worth it but I've never seen any clothes here that were worth the extra cost, they're not particularly unique it's mostly western styles and mass marketed things you could get anywhere.
Fun Alternatives: Instead go to the cheapest supermarkets, dia, lidl, condis, caprabo. You won't find on the main streets but just go down the side streets ( off the beaten path I suppose) and you'll definitely find one. Opencor is also more expensive but it's open very late.
Can you believe there is a Spanish theme park in Barcelona? The " El Pueblo Espanhol" is a theme park in Montjuic that reproduces the artistic and architectural contrasts that can be found thoughout Spain.
Of course this would end up with shopping. And the place is actually filled with dozens of shops selling spanish artcrafts at exorbitant prices.
This is definetly a tourist trap, The whole country of Spain is itself a great theme park and they dont need disney-like places reproducing corners of Catalunia or Andalucia.
Unique Suggestions: No, dont go there
Fun Alternatives: Travel the rest of Spain! The country is beatiful and the people friendly
Spanish Village was listed as a must see in the Japanese guide book. It turned out to be the standard craftshops and souveniers as in most other tourist traps. Nothing here caught my interest, including the Picasso Museum. Even the architecture seemed forced and in your face. It didn't have a natural feel to it. They billed Spanish Village as a place that represented, culturally, each different region of Spain, but everything I saw seemed very generic.
Unique Suggestions: Above all else, do NOT eat here. The food is not prepared, only microwaved from frozen. Fresh ingredients are not used, and it will all set you back two to three times as much as out in town. Even pa amb tomaquet costs like 4 euros.
Fun Alternatives: They don't water their drinks so at least you can sit down and get drunk enough to kill some of the misery.
Barcelona 2004 and there is propaganda for The Forum of Cultures everywhere. But Forum of Vultures would be a better name.
The exhibitions and the site (a concrete jungle in an industrial area of the city) are very disappointing. The event's themes are Peace, Sustainable Development, and Multiculturalism - all very worthy topics. But the practices of the event's commercial sponsors tell a very different story: INDRA (missile systems, the Eurofighter, link-ups with US companies involved in 'Star Wars II' projects); ENDESA (Spanish power utility whose dirty thermal power stations make the company Europe's 4th largest CO2 polluter); Nestle (pushes bottle feeding in the Third World, contributing to 1.5 million baby deaths a year according to UNICEF), and so it goes on. In fact, the whole US $ 2.5 billion-plus project is little more than a wheeze to justify massive property speculation and position Barcelona as a kind of latter-day San Francisco in the tourism stakes. Greenpeace and Amnesty - among other NGOs - have pulled out of the event in protest. Environmentally aware tourists should therefore be in no doubt as to what awaits them - a kind of Disneyland in which the multinationals have hijacked decent ideas for their own nefarious purposes.
In fact, the whole project seems cursed. Two acrobats collided in mid-air in one of the early performances and the troupe pulled out. The much trumpeted (and sinfully ugly) Herzog & Meuron building leaked, and a couple of priceless Chinese terracotta warriors on exhibition were damaged. The Tibetan monks were thrown out of the Forum at the Chinese government's behest because their stand mentioned the atrocities committed by the Peking regime in their land. The Forum organisers caved in - the Chinese Terracotta Warriors provide the key exhibit - and the corporate sponsors have their own reasons for keeping the Chinese sweet. End result: the Tibetans have been exiled to a small tent at the end of the Ramblas boulevard in the city.
Fun Alternatives: Visit the Tibetan monks in their tent at the Columbus statue end of the Ramblas boulevard. Watch monks making a mandala and give them a bit of moral support to help make up for the shabby treatment meted out to them by the Forum organisers.
Take a trip to Montjuic castle, overlooking the city. Gazing towards the northern end of Barcelona, you will see a mess of skyscrapers and cranes emerging from Barcelona's traditional low-rise cityscape. That is the Forum site and its associated rampant property development .
Write a letter /postcard in English to
Ajuntament de Barcelona,
Placa Sant Jaume,
There are MANY bad restaurants here, and some people leave having never been to a good one! its such a shame as there are plenty of great ones. Just avoid eating on the Ramblas, invariably rubbish! also Paceo de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya; looks nice enough with all the lovely terraces but the food is a rip off and in general its just not a good example of the restaurants that there are here.
Unique Suggestions: Do have a drink on some of these nice terraces, they are also a bit more expensive than you might pay else where but its a nice place to sit around people watching.
This is about the central bus station Estacio Nord. I live very close to this place and I travel from there quite often. Ryanair bus shuttle services to/from Girona airport go there. Beware of pickpockets there, especially at night. The critical moment is when buses arrive. Then small groups of young Moroccans or even single individuals on their own mingle with passengers (most of them tired and absentminded) trying to pick up their luggage from the boot. The "operation" is very quick and most victims will not notice. Also beware of them as you head for the main (narrow) stairs and the exit, because they will also wait there to avoid being seen.
Unique Suggestions: Mind your wallets all the time or even hide money inside your underwear. If you are in a group, arrange for some of you to look after while the other picks up the suitcases. Bear in mind pickpockets are not violent, but somehow barefaced in their way of working. I have seen them acting but I admit I haven't dared confront them, as they are usually not alone and are no little kids. At this staion, securtiy control is poor at night.
Please keep in mind that I was in Barcelona in 1997.
This place is home to trendy cafes, nightclubs, and the Kabul hostel. However, what I really found interesting was the number of junkies and pickpockets here. I used to sit up in the Kabul Hostel and watch as some knob would put down their backpack. In an instant it would gone. The pickpockets are some of the best in the world. It was here at 3 am in the morning I had a woman approach me with children and bump me. She started to apologize and pat me down at which point I shoved her and ran. All travellers know that trick!
Plaça Reial was built on top of an old Capuchins convent. Daniel Molina was responsible for the construction of it from 1848 to 1859. In the center of the square, there is an iron fountain dedicated to the Three Graces, and Antoni Gaudi designed the iron lamp posts.
Placa Reial is located in Barri Gotic east of Las Ramblas.
Unique Suggestions: Come down here to watch the fun but don't bring your valuables.
Fun Alternatives: Stay on Las Ramblas and venture around well lit areas of Barri Gotic closer to the seaside.
If you are reading this, you may be thinking of visiting the Forum of Cultures in Barcelona. After all, there is something of a media blitz, carefully orchestrated by the Spanish political establishment and big corporate sponsors backing the event. Not surprisingly, the local media (never outspoken at the best of times) tamely echoes the press notes churned out by the organisers.
One of the Forum's stated aims is sustainable development. Many environmentally-conscious tourists may consider visiting the Forum on the strength of this. Unfortunately, this would be a big mistake. The criticisms made by Greenpeace in the courageous El Triangle newspaper [Issue 693, 26th July 2004, p.15] are eloquent. A summarized version is set out below.
'The Forum is a disaster for the Catalan coastline', stated Maria Jose Caballero, Director of Greenpeace's Coastline Campaign. Greenpeace has just published its annual report on the state of beaches in Spain and cites Barcelona's schemes as a glaring example of unsustainable development. Caballero says Barcelona City Council's attitude is 'appalling'. The annual report highlights the way 'The last vestiges of Barcelona's coastline have been buried under masses of reinforced concrete'. Greenpeace is particularly critical of the way in which the Forum site has turned the coastline along this stretch into a concrete jungle. 'There is simply no excuse for this' argues Caballero, 'the Council has taken over public land, built on it, and charges admission into the bargain'.
Note: Greenpeace withdrew from the Forum organization a couple of years ago when it became clear that big business was hijacking the event and betraying key principles. Amnesty International has also withdrawn from the Forum, in this case in protest at the human rights abuses committed by many of the event's commercial sponsors.
We had a very pleasant evening at the Cafe De Le Radio in Casp Street. We had wine two course dinner (typical local tapas not plastic) a couple of beers and two brandies and coffee to follow. This came to 36 euros because they shut at one we walked a round the corner to Txapella. We asked for two brandies and two coffees and sat at the bar talking we had another two brandies and coffees and asked for then bill. This came to 37 euros the brandies had been charged at 7.50 euros each. This was a rip off they just stitched us up with their best brandy, all the other bars gave us extremely good brand such as Mango or one of the good reasonably priced brandies. If you want to be ripped off go here.
Unique Suggestions: Don't
Fun Alternatives: Walk passed and go to Le Glop, El Mussol in Casp Street 200meters next to Hotel Barcelona the same drinks cost 11 euros and the atmosphere is much nicer full of locals not tourists.
Poble Espanyol (touted as a "one hour" way to get to know Spain) is just a couple of fake buildings, some with painted on windows, and fake artisan workshops. There is one interesting contemporary art collection there, but it's not included in the price of the ticket and they ask you for more money at the door.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go in - and I would say don't waste your time - try and organize a group of 15 from the people standing on line, even if you don't know them. Then it's only half price. Don't feel uncomfortable about it - people are usually very happy to save a buck, and every place you want to go into on Montjuic costs about 7 EUR. They ask where you're from, so just say "America," or whatever, and go in through the separate entrance for groups.
Fun Alternatives: Get a T-10 travel pass (a real bargain, at 8.25 EUR for 10 rides) - pronounced "te deu'" - which can be used on any form of transportation. Stamp it in the machine. A date and time will be printed out on the back (rather faintly). It can be used 10 times. After that the machine will not accept it. You can share it with a friend - just pass it back over the turnstile. You can also use it on the airport train. Pick up a free map from your hotel or the tourist information bureau. Each time, choose a section of the city and walk the streets.
Barcelona loudly proclaims its openness to other cultures and its defence (at least in word) of Democracy and Human Rights. In fact, it is now part of the way the city is being marketed abroad. It all comes down to trying to find what is called a 'Unique Selling Proposition' or USP. The 2004 Forum of Cultures is part of this strategy - Human Rights, Peace, Sustainable Development make an attractive 'package' that commands broad consensus. The trick is to get foreigners to associate these ideas with Barcelona - if it works the chances are that the city will become more attractive as a tourist and conference destination.
Strange then that one of the VIPs invited to speak at the Forum of Cultures debate on the problems of South America was none other than Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, erstwhile President of Bolivia*. Lozada's name is inextricably linked to the 'slash and burn' variety of Capitalism. While miners desperately try to eke a living in Bolivia's Cerro Rico de Potosi mine, 25 kilometres down the road is the wealthy and polluting Porco mine, jointly owned by Lozada and US interests. Readers may recall that Lozada fled to Miami in a private aircraft last October while the Bolivian military machine-gunned striking miners in La Paz's impoverished El Alto district from army helicopters. The toll was 84 dead and hundreds wounded. Instead of listening to Lozada's vapourings at the pompous and pedantic Forum of Cultures, Barcelona's city authorities would have done better to issue a warrant for his arrest. So much for Human Rights.
* [as reported in Joan Barril's article in El Periodico newspaper, p.96, 7th July 2004]
Unique Suggestions: Read the wikipedia article and decide for yourself if this is the kind of guy you would invite to a Forum of Cultures
Fun Alternatives: Highly recommended: the city's Nits de Museu, nocturnal sessions in Barcelona's main museums. A wonderful way of avoiding the tourist crush and seeing the collections when it is a bit cooler. Details from the Barcelona Tourist Office in Placa Catalunya. I'll see if I can't dig up some more detailed information.
This tiny section of land inbetween the Harbor of Barcelona is a big tourist trap. Food is overpriced and tourists are everywhere. The only positive things about this strip of tourist bumping tourist land is perhaps the IMAX theatre showing kid flicks or an ancient wooden submarine from the 1800's proudly displayed on the grass.
Unique Suggestions: Take a look at the Wooden Submarine from the 1800's.
Fun Alternatives: Pass Moll D'Espania and the Harbor and then take a right down first large street. Walk all the way down this street filled with Vendors and tourists. The harbor will be on your right side. If you follow this street all the way down, you will eventually hit Barceloneta Beach. Once on the beach, take a left and walk down the beach and enjoy the beaches of Barcelona!
Visiting the Sagrada Familia in high season might bring you in a bad mood, as thousands of people are hanging around, waiting to get inside. Furthermore there's a lot of noise, dust and dirt because of the everlasting construction work.
Fun Alternatives: I would prefer to come here in the early morning or evening and admire Gaudi's work in the exhibition at La Pedrera.
Don't visit the D'Or Tapas Bar on C de Pelai - this is at the top of La Rambla - they take advantage or mis-interupt your order to bring larger drinks or portions of food and charge you for the priveledge. This has happened not only to ourselves but to other english speaking customers we spoke to. We really love Barcelona BUT shall not be visting this bar again - and strongly urge you not !!!
We had just visited "La Pedrera", feeling very tired and hungry. Yes, we know we should have looked for a "menu fixe" restaurant, but this was the first establishment we found and in we went to taste the local food, the paella.
There was a placard outside, advertising this item, but failed to note there were no prices. There was a snack bar just inside, with prices posted. Further inside, was a restaurant with waiter service.
We ordered a meat paella and mineral water. The bottle of mineral water was so small you could hardly see it! And we were each given a cheap plastic glass and a napkin which looked like toilet paper. The food arrived in the pan it was cooked in. There was no extra dish
At that point the waiter insisted on being paid, before we began to eat.
The bill came to EUR36!
In truth, the food was tasty, but the price was ridiculously high for what we got. Also their toilets on that day were dirty and disgraceful. Look somewhere else for paella.