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BBC Radio 4’s first ever truly interactive radio travel programme.
This week
Thursday 17 January 2008
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Casa Batllo, designed by Gaudi, in Barcelona
This week: Barcelona
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Send us your views, comments, criticisms and suggestions by emailpost a message, or telephone us on the afternoon of transmission (08700 100444) with your tips.
Our destination under discussion this week was Barcelona, the capital of Catalan cool. Below are some of the top tips we received from listeners to the programme and expert advice from our panel of travel experts.
A run down of some of the most exciting, cultured and, thanks to Charlie Connerly our regular travel guru, some down right bazaar activities to get up to during your stay in the city.

La Pedrera
The exhibition charting how Gaudi worked, looking at his buildings in chronological order. It’s in a stunning arched attic space of the building. For panoramic views from Tibidabo mountain across the city to the Mediterranean, walk around the sinuous rooftop, you might find yourself gripping onto twisted chimneys as you navigate the sometimes precarious steps!

La Boqueria Market
Fresh fish, meat, vegetables and fruit, cheese – everything you need to keep you well fuelled during your stay. Whether you’re shopping for a week or just for a picnic visit the market for a feast of authentic atmosphere.

Las Ramblas.
The ultimate urban boulevard has been gradually changing over the last few years to adapt to the neverending stream of tourists strolling from the Plaza de Catalunya down to the sea. More mainstream shops are popping up, while new legislation means the traditional kiosks selling birds and other pets will soon be a thing of the past. Mime artists and buskers still liven things up, but have to stick to authorised spots. There is also a plan afoot to smarten up the pavement cafés.

FC Barcelona Museum
Barcelona’s most popular museum is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Camp Nou football stadium, set to undergo a spectacular Gaudi-inspired revamp by Norman Foster.

Every year, more than 1,200,000 people make a pilgrimage to the home of FC Barcelona, not to watch a match but to take a tour of the stadium and visit the club’s museum, which is situated in the grandstand.

Also a top day out for youngster’s with a passion for the game, find out more at http://

Activities for families with children
If you and your Children are visiting the city there is a huge variety of activites to suit all ages and interests. Visit the port for two activities side by side - The Imax theatre and The Aquarium

In the north of the city is the new science museum CosmoCaixa with interactive displays and hundreds of exhibitions exploring environmental issues, like sand-dune formation and weathering and displays about how aeroplanes fly.

Visit this website for more information on the museum.

Open all year round is the Tibidabo amusement park a must for all the family. Check out for more details

Highly recommended for arts fans of all ages is the Juan Miro Foundation on Montjuic and next to it the Juan Miro museum.

For a day trip take the train direct, one hour from Barcelona Catalunya or Sants to Port Aventura. There is so much to here for the whole family, from the Port Aventura Adventure Park, to a beach club and the Caribe Aquatic Park, it’s a great place for parents to relax and children to go wild! For train info visit

For a real taste of Barcelona the food markets are a must. Here are our top tips for foodies

Ferran Adria said recently “A good sardine is better than a bad lobster”, which just about sums up what it’s all about – the quality of the basic ingredients.

Other top chefs include Carles Abellan, Carles Gaig, Sergi Arola, Santi Santamaria, Joan Roca and Carme Ruscalleda (one of the few women in the world to have three Michelin stars, and she’s just got another two for her new restaurant in Tokyo).

Other Spanish regions have characteristic dishes, but Catalunya has its own, very distinctive cuisine, shaped by the great variety of landscapes and climates.

One of the most traditional dishes is escalivada, a simple but delicious platter of chargrilled or roast aubergines, peppers, courgettes, onions and other vegetables.

One of the most popular salads is xató, which mixes salt cod with escarole lettuce, tuna and anchovies, served with a sauce of ground almonds, hazelnuts, garlic and chili peppers.

Traditional recipes mix produce from coastal areas with ingredients from inland and mountainous areas - known as mar i muntanya, literally sea and mountain – such as chicken with langoustines, which is cooked in a sauce that mixes almonds and garlic with dark chocolate. Squid is stuffed with minced pork, and in Lleida rabbit is often prepared in a stew with snails.

The thing that strikes most visitors straightaway, however, is a much simpler affair. As soon as you sit at a table in a Catalan restaurant, a plate of bread rubbed with tomato and oil appears, something not usually seen in the rest of Spain. Known in Catalan as pa amb tomàquet, even this humble offering has entire books devoted to it, and is regarded by most Catalans as an integral part of their culture.

Restaurants to visit during your trip
Can Lluis Atraditional restaurant in the Raval neighbourhood. Long popular with actors, writers, artists etc. Opened in 1929, and always family run. Lots of history, including a bomb exploding in the restaurant in 1946, killing the owner and his son (Cera 49, 93 441 1187).

Inopia and Tapaç24 two different restaurants, but the same sort of idea, part of a new wave of gourmet tapas bars with great chefs behind them.

Inopia is run by Albert Adria, Ferran’s brother, who has always worked closely with him, and Tapaç24 was opened by Carles Abellan, who runs the renowned Comerç24 in the Born area.

The idea at both is to take tradtional dishes, such as patatas bravas, Russian salad, deep-fried artichoke hearts, grilled prawns, fried egg, chips and chorizo, or meatballs, and make them using the best possible raw materials. This premise has been hugely successful – which can sometimes make it a bit difficult to get in. (Inopia, Tamarit 104, 93 424 5231; Tapaç24, Diputacio 269, corner of Passeig de Gracia, 93 488 0977).

Cinc Sentits. For a smart evenings dinning. Chef Jordi Anglí creates contemporary Catalan dishes using ingredients, such as rack of lamb with a cep crust and leek purée. Tasting menus and set-price lunch available (otherwise average prices are 80 euros) (Aribau 58, 93 323 9490,

For vegetarians the tapas dishes offer a huge selection of delicious delicacies, but if you’re looking for a place to eat catered entirely for the vegetarian visit Organic in La Boqueria Market or Juicy Jones just off Las Ramblas.

Famous for it’s lively nightlife Barcelona boasts a variety of options for an evening on the tiles.

Marsella, St Pau – a very popular spot with artists and it’s the only place that serves Absinthe.

Razzmatazz – a huge club – with a 5,000 person capacity. Jarvis Cocker and Dave Clark have played here.

Bikini, Les Corts - Behind the L’Illa shopping centre, top-flight gigs by serious musicians including Marianne Faithfull. After the gigs, stay for club nights with house, funk and hip hop.

Pacha – Near the university. One of the most notorious nightclubs, Pasha has 6 bars and is host to big name Ibiza DJs.

Atlantida – Sitges club where serious clubbers go for the night. You can crash out on the beach during the day after a serious session on the dance floor and travel back to the city the following day.

Space – Calle Tarragona, L’Eixample. Incarnation of the famous Ibiza club. Hosts Cafe Ole on Sundays.

Cafe de l’Opera – A famous bar on the Rambla.

El Xampanyet – In the Born district. Sip home brewed sparkling wine and enjoy tapas in a hole-in-the-wall type family run bar.

Muebles Navarro – in Raval, is chill-out bar in an old furniture shop. If you want to get away from some of the more touristy haunts come here for a chilled out atmosphere and some of the ‘cooler’ residents of the city.

Rita Blue – near Ramblas. Very Mediterranean, with dancing in the basement, drinking on the terrace and martinis in the upper quarters.

Mediterraneao, Balmes – Lots of good live band gigs happen here, very popular with the younger crowd.
As mentioned during the show, more and more people are visiting European cities for one or two nights, to catch their favourite bands on tour.

You can buy tickets for the top musicals and gigs at Palau Sant Jordi on Montjuic, the Olympic Stadium or occasionally, Camp Nou.

Prices are a lot less than in the UK (eg The Cure, €44).

Forthcoming gigs: Charlatans, The Cure, Alicia Keys, Mark Knopfler, Bon Jovi (Olympic stadium, June 1, from €49), Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen at Camp Nou 18-20 July.

Music festivals coming up are Primavera Sound – May 29-31 – Parc del Forum, pop, rock, electronic Sonar – in June – – electronic music – film, art installations, DJs, dancing. Electro, techno and hip hop.

Summercase July 18-19th lots of big name bands headlining. Visit for listings.

Popular festivals

Sardanas: Traditional Catalan dance. People meet in front of the cathedral on Sundays to dance it.
Saint George (Sant Jordi), patron saint of Catalonia: On 23 April the Catalans celebrate Saint George's day by offering a rose and/or book, and the main shopping streets of Barcelona are filled with book stands and flower stalls. Men give women a rose to commemorate the death of Shakespeare and women give men a book in tribute to Cervantes who died on this day in 1616.

Eve of Sant Joan: On the 23 June, the summer solstice is celebrated with big bonfires on the beach, firecrackers and fireworks, and people eat the traditional "coca de Sant Joan" (a pastry). For locals and tourists.

La Mercè festival: Festival for Barcelona's patron saint, held in the week of the 24 September, the day of La Mercè.

All kinds of activities including "correfoc" (fire-breathing dragons from all over Catalonia), and the pyrotechnical music show (fireworks and classical music next to the Montjuïc fountains).

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your holiday there are hundreds of options to choose from. Barcelona has accommodation for every budget from hostels to B+B’s, budget hotels to luxury apartments. All the usual suspects have full details
-, and trip for detailed reviews and travel advice from holiday makers.

If you’re interested in renting an apartment while you’re enjoying the city here are few tips to get you on the right track.

Most of the apartments on offer are in the old parts of town – Gothic Quarter, Born, Raval and Barceloneta – often in medieval buildings with beams and open-brick walls. There are loads of agencies, and also websites for renting direct from owners.

Prices start at around 70 euros a night for a studio, but around 100 euros is more usual. A one-bedroom flat will often have a sofabed in the living room.

The advantage, apart from financial, is that you feel you are living in the city, even if it’s only ‘pretend’, and can shop in the markets like a local. Disadvantages are that a lot of the downtown area is noisy at night, and many old buildings are a bit scruffy inside, even though the apartment may well be lovely, and you might not feel safe going back late if it is on a quiet, dark alley. In summer, it is great to stay in Barceloneta right by the beach.

A few reputable rental agencies:,,, (specialist in Barceloneta). Loquo – – has a holiday rentals section for apartments direct from owners. This is usually cheaper than an agency, but be careful to check the details as you do not have the guarantees of dealing with a professional organisation.

If you’ve got any questions, tips, hints, advice or any answers to the listener phone-ins, email or log onto the Traveller’s Tree message board.
We endeavour to make sure that all our information is accurate at the time of broadcast and whilst it is compiled in all good faith, we cannot be held responsible for any errors in information supplied to us. Please also bear in mind that details, although accurate at the time of original broadcast, may change over time.
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