Un article escrit per una revista xinesa per el nostre amic www.jmromero.com

Josep Maria Romero

Josep Maria Romero

By now, you are probably familiar with the highlights of Barcelona. So you know what to do. But your experience will improve a lot if you consider when to go, how to go, and other circumstances. So I will focus my collaboration to your trip on this particular point. You should take advantage, for example, of the weird Spanish schedules and timings. In Barcelona, most sites and museums will close at 7 or 8 pm in high season. Considering that the tourist crowd finishes its activities around 5pm, the choice is obvious. If you go, say, to the Picasso Museum in the morning, you will most probably find the rooms packed with visitors, including large groups of people driven by guides which will block your way to the paintings or to the next room once and again.

But if you drop there around 6pm -closes at 8 pm!- you’ll be granted a quiet atmosphere, which will allow you to enjoy that unique exhibition of the artist’s early years in the best conditions. The same thing applies to the other big attractions of the city, such as the Sagrada Familia or the Parc Guell. In the case of the Parc, please avoid a visit at noon in summer, unless you enjoy being grilled like a shrimp! So what do you do, in these touristic rush hours? In Barcelona, there is a good choice of less-known museums and sites, which will offer you prime quality.

One of my favourites is the Museu Marés, next to the old Cathedral, which displays an impressive collection of historical art -romanesque, gothic, etc- and has very few visitors. The same thing applies for the Museu Diocesà, next door to the Marés. And, if you want to enjoy the greatest Gothic architecture away from the obvious Gothic Quarter, take a bus and go to the Monestir de Pedralbes: it is one of the best historical buildings in Barcelona, and you will enjoy it in full peace. As for Gaudí’s works, I strongly recommend you a visit to the Crypt of the Colònia Güell, in the outskirts of the city. You’ll be impressed by the work of a daring and mature Gaudí, and again you’ll be privileged by the quiet atmosphere. Since reaching the place by public transport may be a bit complicated and take a long time, I suggest you take the Gaudi Plus Tour managed by Barcelona Guide Bureau (www.barcelonaguidebureau.com). The groups going to the Crypt are always small, and the organization is excellent. You can also consider joining other tours of the program, they are all great value… and you will avoid long queues!

Now a reference to the food,… we are so proud of it! La Boqueria Market is highlighted in all guides, and it is wonderful indeed, but these days is overtaken by tourists -unless you get there by 7 am, maybe direct from the disco, some people do. But why not go to one of the markets that never appear in the guides? Just a few steps from the unfinished Gaudi’s church, you’ll find the Mercat de la Sagrada Família, which serves the locals in the area, and very few tourists get there. I know this well, since that’s my original neighborhood, and my mum still lives there and shops at the market. Or, if in the Passeig de Gràcia area, take a short walk to the Mercat de la Concepció. In both markets you’ll find restaurants with reasonable prices and a truly local atmosphere.

Let me finish with some advice for the evening. Barcelona is famous for night life. You’ll find lots of options at the Port Olimpic, the Born or the Raval. But my choice for you is Gràcia, a maze of narrow streets and squares, traditional home to Catalan families and a favorite for foreign residents. No tourist monuments, but a lot of culture and a warm atmosphere. A perfect place to stroll, with a lot of bars, restaurants and terraces. So a good place for tapas. My favorite is the traditional Nou Candanchu, in the Plaça de la Vila. That’s where I like to take my guests. You’ll find a great range of good quality tapas at fair prices… but don’t forget that Spaniards start dinner at 9 am, so get there a little before or you’ll see it packed!

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