I'll soon be making my first visit to Barcelona (in fact to Spain). Over the past few weeks my life has taken on a Catalonian favour as I seek and source appropriate items and experiences in advance of my break. For anyone planning a similar trip here are a few recommendations:
1. Food - for any SE8 resident seeking Spanish cuisine the Dos Tias tapas bar is the obvious choice. Just past Deptford Bridge it deserves to be much better known. Apart from the usual tapas dishes they also offer sandwiches and paninis, and a fantastic Mediterranean breakfast (note weekday opening hours have recently changed to 11-3 however).
2. Clothes - Deptford market is always good for bargains of course, and as this report states it seems to be thriving at the moment. As for footwear Catalonia is famous for its espadrilles - I've sourced a suitable pair from my friends across the river at Only Espadrilles.
3. Guide/phrasebooks - surprisingly Wavelengths library didn't have anything on Barcelona when I visited. I've just tried to access the OPAC to see what Lewisham library holds, unfortunately it seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately there are online alternatives, my own preference (for clarity and conciseness) is for a DK Eyewitness guides. I also bought a set of Pigeon Spanish cards off Amazon and found a useful PDF of Catalan phrases on the Barcelona Tourism site.
4. Travel and sightseeing - the Barcelona Card seems a good buy - free travel on public transport (including the airport train) and free or reduced entry to dozens of attractions. I bought it online to save 10% (it can be collected at the airport on arrival). The unofficial Barcelona Tourist Guide provides some very useful hints and tips on getting around, tours and hotels.
UPDATE 29 May: Well I survived, in fact I had a brilliant time and it's high on my list of recommended cities. I'll certainly make a return trip someday! What stood out for me was its great variety of attractions for visitors - even more so than London, perhaps, as I for one have yet to find a decent beach here! I'm about to go off travelling again, but this time a little nearer to home - Cornwall.
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