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Her Best Bets In Barcelona, Spain

Debra Hubner

Did you know that Barcelona is the 4th most visited city in Europe after Paris, London and Rome? This cosmopolitan capital city of Catalunya, Spain (how's this for a tongue twister?) is known for its wide pedestrian boulevards, distinctive architecture, great fashion and shopping, abundance of parks, and some of the best city beaches in the world.

I had the good fortune of spending a week here in April 1998. While I simply dream of returning to Barcelona, Journey Women continue to flock to this jewel on the Mediterranean, and for good reason. Knowing that they always come back with the inside scoop, members of the JW Network were asked to share their best bets in Barcelona. Here's what they had to say ...

Adapt to local dining habits -- I was in Barcelona on my own for 3 days last June. Having lived in Spain, I know that there's no point in going to a non-touristy restaurant before 10 p.m. as they're deserted. And 10 is early for Spain. But as a solo traveller with a lot to cram into a day, I opted to have a good meal in the neighbourhood bar that I happened to be wandering around at lunch time. The 'menu del dia' usually has a starter, a main course and a dessert and a half litre of wine for around 10 euros. It was a nice respite from the heat and ideal for checking out the locals. Then if I needed a snack in the evening, it was tapas or pinchitos - mini open sandwiches. Don't forget to treat yourself to the Spanish equivalent of champagne, cava, which comes from Catalunya. Salud!
Maggie, Ottawa, Canada

Enjoyable, affordable B&B -- I'm a 56 year old granny who uses Journeywoman advice for all my travels. Now I can give something back. I've just returned from a lovely stay in a cozy B&B in Barcelona with my 12 year old granddaughter. We loved it! It's owned by a great couple: Francisco, a Catalan young man, and John, his Colombian partner. Both were very helpful. This B&B has five rooms, each with super beds, silk covers, feather pillows, and shared bathrooms (one for each two rooms). There's a lounge full of art books, and plenty of trendy guides on Barcelona. Good breakfast. Good price: When I was there it was 80 euros per room per night for two persons. Website: www.barcelonabb.com
Mónica, São Paulo, Brazil

Early bird special -- I've just returned from a trip to Barcelona and found a wonderful restaurant on Las Ramblas called, The Egipte. If you eat there before 6:30 p.m., the menu is 11.40 euros and includes three courses plus your drink. The food was excellent, particularly the puffed pastry stuffed with spinach. After my third time eating there, the staff started serving me free glasses of Cava (a Spanish sparkling wine). I'm very happy to recommend this spot. I think you'll like it, too. Tel: 93 317 95 45.
Angela, Cape Town, South Africa

Love vintage shopping? -- We found a great street with a few quality vintage shops. The street was c/ Riera Baixa and is worth the time to have a wander through. Experience something a bit different and more local to the masses strolling down the busy Las Ramblas. Then, get a frozen yoghurt at one of the many delicious shops scattered around Barcelona. On a hot day, there is nothing better (and it's not ice cream, so it's healthy, right?). Sprinkle it with fruit and nuts and explore one of the best European cities in the world!
Tom Summerfield, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Website: activebackpacker.com Twitter: @activebackpackr

Amazing beachfront hotel -- Known by the locals as Hotel Vela, the W Hotel is the most amazing place to visit or stay in Barcelona. It's shaped like a mirrored sail and is located right on the beach, with a fabulous outdoor terrace overlooking the sea where you can lounge on comfy beds. And up on the top floor, there is a lounge with an amazing view of the beach from above where you can get some really unique beverages to sip while you soak up the views. You'll find the W Hotel at www.w-barcelona.com.
Doreen, Matlock, Canada

A feast for the family -- As a travelling family we're always on the lookout for affordable quality restaurants in places we visit. Our favorite eatery in Barcelona is La Barqua de Salamanca located in the Olympic Village. The restaurant's reasonably priced (25 euros per person) prix-fixe menu offers a tempting choice of appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts. Our meal highlights included spicy Galician Octopus, hearty Paella and a super-sized plate of fresh giant shrimp and crab legs.
Margalit Francus, California, USA
Website: www.autisticglobetrotting.com Twitter: @autiglobetrot

For the love of perfume - Hidden in the back of the Regia perfume shop on Passeig de Gracia is a most wonderful museum that is dedicated to perfume bottles. It has thousands of bottles that take you on a historical tour of fragrance through different cultures and eras, from ancient times up to the present. My friend and I just loved looking at all of them, and we even recognized some that are no longer made. We also enjoyed people watching on this street, especially how the elders would get dressed up to take their evening promenades. Look for Perfumery Regia at Passeig de Gracia 39 to find the Museu del Perfum.
Website: www.museudelperfum.com Tel: 93 216 01 21
Debra, Toronto, Canada

Shop the local markets -- I would like to suggest that "La Boqueria" market is overrated and soooo packed and touristy. Best bets are the local markets around Gracia district, especially La Libertad. Nothing beats an early coffee and slice of "tortilla" there, then a big shop of local produce. Fabulous!
Diana, Byron Bay, Australia

Try some tasty tapas!

There is an amazing tapas bar at the back of La Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas. Stand behind someone who looks like they're almost done, and jump in when they leave. You will take tons of pics in the market, the food selection and colours are astounding. Website: www.boqueria.info
Deborah, Vancouver, Canada

A great tapas bar and restaurant in the Eixample district is Catalana Cerviseria. A bustling tapas bar at 236 Mallorca. They serve breakfast as well. The choice of tapas is large and constantly changing while you sit at the bar. Lots of choices of Spanish wines, cavas and beer. Priced reasonably, I never spent more than $25 for 3 tapas and wine or cava... and very filling. Highly recommended!
Cathy, San Rafael, California

El Xampanyet is a little old tapas bar in the El Born where you can drink one of the best home-made cavas of Catalunya, with the cava they serve you delicious little tapas. The place is usually crowded, it is recommended to come a little earlier but it is very easy to meet locals and tourists alike. A great place for young and old!
Travel blogger Sebastian Canaves
Website: www.off-the-path.com Twitter: @sebaboerner

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