Fashion, Corners and others indulgences in
When you grow up and live in southern Spain, neighbor’s cities becomes strangers that are seldovisited. It took me 23 years to step into Barcelona, and that was in 2003 during my walking trip to Santiago de Compostela, another story.
In the last years has changed a lot, as it has been doing for the last century…
Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.
Barcelona goes by the hand of fashion and design. Worldwide known for it's Art Nouveau buildings and for Gaudi's masterpieces; for it's artists like the eccentric painter Salvador Dalí; it's fashion designers as Custo Dalmau, very known for his fashion brand with which shares his same name, Custo Barcelona; or even it's chefs such as Ferran Adrià, that for many years has been considered as the best chef in the world for his hi-tech cuisine.
But there's much more in Barcelona! After visiting the most astonishing Gaudi's buildi
ourself get lost across the little streets of the old city to find some of the most amazing architecture masterpieces like Palau de la Música Catalana by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, situated in the “Born” district. This building was made to hold the Catalan Orfeon's concerts and now it's one of the most unique concerts venues in the world, since it was build as a music box that combines arts and crafts such as: sculpture, mosaic, stained glass and forging, making its decoration a masterpiece of creativity and imagination. Besides, it is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during the day time entirely by natural light. Probably that's why it is the only modernist concert hall declared World Heritage by UNESCO (1997). The colored glass inverted-dome inside the concert hall, is really breathtaking, and the only thing you will do will be staring at the ceiling for a long while, but after taking all the pictures of the gorgeous ceiling, don't forget to take a look to the stage, where you will discover the 18 muses of the music, that come out from the wall, half mosaic half sculpture, each one holding her instrument. And also a noble pipe organ above and behind the stage. http://www.palaumusica.cat/en/
Besides the Art Nouveau buildings, there are really impressing new ones too, such as the W Barcelona Hotel by the architect Ricardo Bofill, which seems to be the new milestone of the city. Because of it's shape, which looks like a sail, Barcelona's citizens call it Hotel Vela (Sail Hotel in Spanish). It's located at the new entrance to the city Port, offering spectacular views of the sea and the city, specially from the top floor (26), where it's hold one of the coolest bars in the city, the “Eclipse”. The outer glass of the building reflects the sky and the Mediterranean sea, melting the big hotel into the landscape. http://www.w-barcelona.com/
Barcelona is also the perfect city to go shopping. If your goal is finding the most trendy clothes, you must know about Barcelona's tradition in the fabrics industry and fashion design, which makes it the Spanish city with most Fashion Design Schools. That's why it is the source of big brands as Custo Barcelona, Desigual, TCN, Pronovias, Mango, etc.; as well as great designers like Sita Murt, Antonio Miró, Josep Abril, Andrés Sardá, Guillermina Baeza, Celia Vela and Manuel Bolaño among others; but also of many independent designers, most of whom have their own boutiques and ateliers in the “Gracia” and “Born” districts. These two areas are the ones you must walk to find singular and exclusive desings, made in Barcelona. And I really mean made in Barcelona, because nowadays big brands from all over the world are producing in underdeveloped countries, where working conditions are so bad, that we have had to mourn thousands of human losses due to landslides of factories in operation.
These independent designers usually make the whole process of production, from the first sketch to the last sewing, that's why they make limited editions of their garments, which makes it so exclusive, so you can go home without worrying that somebody will be wearing the same dress as you.
If you cannot go to Barcelona and delight in the diversity to be found in this city, but still want to get your own exclusive dress by one of these not-known-yet designers, there is an other way to discover some of these talented designers and their creations.
ICONIC Barcelona is a fashion brand that makes it's products based on a conscious, ethical and ecological criteria. By making the clothing in Barcelona, their city, not only allows them to be kinder to the environment and control the entire production process, but also contribute in this way to revive the textile industry in their country. As they say, Iconic is for people who believe that brands today must be committed to a cause. At the same time, Iconic Barcelona uses the “collaborative fashion trend setting”, which means they promote independent designers involving users into the collections creation process. They go a step further into the world of fashion by democratizing trends through collaborative participation, giving you the chance to vote for your favorite designs. Why do they use a voting system? They believe their customers know what they want, better than any company does, so they decided to adapt their product to their customers style. The voting system is the tool by which users can please their expectations of finding a product tailored to them. Users decide the dresses that will be in each collection, at the same time, each collection is made by different designers, and produced by Iconic in Barcelona. That's why all the garments have a different label where you will find the name of the designer and the number of garments made of that design. They only use fine fabrics like silks, cottons, natural viscose, satin, chiffon, wool... It couldn't be more exclusive! In addition you can buy it online! http://www.iconicbarcelona.com/en/index.php
Although you can get the trendiest Barcelona's clothes without leaving your city, you should visit Barcelona and discover the fantastic Spanish and Catalan gastronomy in all the good restaurants the city offers, and why not, going out to the coolest clubs where you can wear your new design dress.
In spite of the closing to the public of El Bulli, Ferran Adrià's restaurant (2 years ago due to turning it into what nowadays is an exclusive research workshop), which had been elected five times the best restaurant in the world, there are plenty of really good restaurants in Barcelona and nearby.
The new best restaurant in the world is again a Catalan (Spanish) one, but in this case it's leaded by three brothers, who have combined their diverse skills to such extraordinary effect, in the restaurant called El Celler de Can Roca. The Rocas brothers grew up steeped in their mother’s restaurant in Girona’s working-class suburb of Taiala. In 1986, elder brothers Joan and Josep opened El Celler de Can Roca alongside the original. In 2007 – with younger sibling Jordi on board – they moved just up the road to the striking purpose-built space that remains their home. This family triumvirate and their teams create magic without undue theatrics. Eating at El Celler is truly uplifting, with the warmth of the family dynamic all-pervasive. http://www.cellercanroca.com/menu/menu_a.html
Nevertheless if you don't want or don't have the time to go outside Barcelona, you can find the gourmet restaurant Roca Moo, overseen by El Celler de Can Roca and managed by chef Felip Llufriu, in the Hotel Omm, in the very center of Barcelona. Roca Moo offers a special twist on Catalan cooking, which has been awarded by one Michelin star. Or you can sit by the Roca Bar, in the Omm Hotel's lobby and enjoy watching the stylish counter head chef Felip Llufriu and his team prepares modern Catalan traditional food in front of your eyes. The Omm Hotel has also a nightclub, the Ommsession Club. Entering from the Lobby, it offers a good environment to have a drink and the best Dj’s of the world of House and Dance. http://www.hotelomm.es/en/roca-barcelona-en/
A good place where you can get your food cooked life is in La Boqueria market, situated by the most famous Barcelona's street, La Rambla. Do not expect a fancy place, because it is a grocery market. But I would say it is The Grocery Market. This is the place where most of the chefs of Barcelona's restaurants go to buy their fresh daily ingredients. It is a must see of the city, where you can buy the best food for your recipes. However, if you are not in the mood for cooking, you just need to buy your fresh food and look for one of the market's bars with the sign: “We cook what you bring” (it might be only in Catalan or Spanish, so in that case you would have to look for this other sign: “Cuinem el que ens portis” or “Cocinamos lo que nos traigas”). All the bars are usually crowded, and if you are lucky, you will be able to take a sit at one of the few bar stools, I would recommend you to be patient to get your sit, because the experience is worth it. http://www.boqueria.info/mercat-com-arribar-hi.php'
When looking for a place where locals go for an after work drink, you should try La Xampanyeria Can Paixano (most locals don't know the real name, but they know it by “La Champañería”). It is located in the “Barceloneta” district (a typical seaside neighborhood), where the ambiance of the old bars is revived and also where to enjoy the famous Catalan cavas and sparkling wines, in addition to sampling from a wide assortment of sandwiches and tapas. Can Paixano also offers the opportunity to buy a great variety of canned goods and cured meats and sausages in addition to the cavas, sparkling wines and a selection of wines, in the store located inside the local. Once more, this is not an elegant place, but it is really typical and you will be hanging out with locals. It is a small and crowded place, so you will probably have to drink (your 1€ cava glass) and eat, standing. Even though Spanish eating schedules make restaurants closing quite late (it is normal for kitchens to close at 00:00 or even at 1:00am), La Champañería closes at 22:30pm, so it is better to plan it to be enjoyed during day time. http://www.canpaixano.com/contacto.php
Something you can do either during day or evening time, is walking to La Plaça Reial (the royal square). It is a beautiful spot, situated next to La Rambla (at the opposite side of La Boqueria market), full of restaurants, bars and night clubs. During the day you can have a taste of one of the most traditional dishes in Spanish cuisine, while sunbathing and enjoy the street artists performances, in one of the restaurants terraces. In the evening you can book a table on the inside for a romantic dinner or outside if you are with friends and want to start getting into the party mood.
After dinner there are plenty of choices in the square and in the city, but if you are a jazz lover then you can not miss Jamboree, where for half a century, this club has offered two performances per day, 365 times a year. It is a great little jazz cellar visited by global jazz legends of all times. Jamboree is now one of the few cultural and entertainment facilities in the country with a professional structure for providing quality live jazz, having received the Gold Medal for Artistic Merit to Mas i Mas for management of the club and also the contribution towards putting Barcelona alongside other cities that are making the jazz world progress every single day, thanks to a high standard program ranging from the most traditional to fusion with other genres and innovative ideas such as the WTF Jam Sessions.
'Although if you are in the mood for salsa, then you should go to Mojito Club, it is not in the Plaça Real, but a little bit further up in the city center. It is the reference of the Salsa, Bachata and Latin music in Barcelona. A really cool place where to have one of the classic Mojitos or international cocktails, this is the perfect place to show yourself in a nice dress while dancing at the sound of salsa. Sunday is the live music day, with a 100% Cuban orchestra. And if you aim is to learn how to dance salsa, they have their own Salsa School where you can learn from the first steps to advanced moves. http://www.mojitobcn.com/#situacion'
And the last, but not the least, you cannot miss Razzmatazz. Barcelona's music history is written with the letters of Razzmatazz, undoubtedly a benchmark in the party and cultural scene in Spain and worldwide. Faithful to his commitment of following as an icon in Barcelona's nightlife, always innovating and answering to the demand of their selected public. Razzmatazz has hosted artists and bands whose names have been written both in capital and lowercase letters, since in its club sessions every kind of band is supported, even the smallest ones, but always bearing in mind a common factor: quality.
It was the first club in Spain with 5 different rooms, Razzclub, The Loft, Lolita, Popbar, Rexroom and rooms 1, 2 and 3 have hosted every pop, rock and electronic music, international and national artists. Names such as David Byrne, Coldplay, Orbital, Pulp, The Strokes, Blur, Belle and Sebastian, Richie Hawtin, Kanye West, Jeff Mills or Kraftwerk and many more... Lots of them went there being barely known. Artic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand or The Gossip played there for the first time in Spain before they became worldwide stars. http://www.salarazzmatazz.com/op/info
“Just one more destination you shall consider to visit, or maybe a must destination in your agenda. Barcelona is open for all hearts, arts, styles and dreams. Indulge yourself.”
~Ale de Mira Granskog~