Every time I put together one of my city guides, it's the kind of thing I wish I could have read myself before I travel. No one tells you that you'll have to face a confusing Argos-like queue at Vodafone, in the hope of buying a data-only sim (this is the one I used up within four days, oops). There's also things like knowing where to catch the airport bus on your way back (stick to Plaça Catalunya and you can't go wrong), that cava is often cheaper than a soft drink and most shopping can't be done on a Sunday. I'll add in a few of these handy tips with each of the places I discovered during my recent trip. There's a nice little mixture of haunts I stumbled across myself (I did a lot of walking), recommendations from friends and friends and those all important Instagram comments and tweets. This is how I like to travel!
Palo Alto Market
It's just typical I'm sending you to a random part of the city with my first suggestion, but if the flea market wont come to Kristabel then...well, you get the gist. This is probably the closet thing to Brooklyn Flea I've experienced in a while, Palo Alto Market may only happen on the first weekend of every month (please check as my Spanish is pretty non-existent) but it's a great mix of the independent brands, vintage, crafts and street food combination that goes down a treat. Whenever I visit a city, I've realised that if you choose anywhere boasting hipster-style typography, you won't be disappointed. Save space in your luggage for all of the purchases you never knew you needed (I bought myself a letter 'K' to customise...eventually).
They love a lunch deal in Barcelona. After realising that the place I wanted to check out in the market was closed on Mondays, I quickly remembered another place I'd spotted in a random guide. Bar Lobo is pretty close to La Ramblas but with none of the chaos and boasts a handy little three-course-lunch that will tide you over until a late dinner. I did have to use Google Translate to understand the menu but lamb is a pretty safe bet wherever you go and everything was just the right amount. My days of excess are over!
MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art)
I always try and visit a modern art gallery if I have time during a trip, I just find that I can relate to it better than the traditional stuff and you're bound to find something thought provoking. MACBA is nestled in the Ravel district and a calming yet productive place to wile away an hour or two, thanks to the stark white architecture. I learnt about 80s Spanish indie music and attempted to understand more about the political situation, whilst also discovering an amazing display of match boxes by Matt Mullican.
I did a fair amount of walking in Barcelona so I could have very well treated myself to a crazy unhealthy brunch. It'd be pretty hard to do that at Flax&Kale, health is their point of difference so even my Eggs Benedict came with carrots and artichoke (this was also the moment I realised that I didn't actually like the latter). Despite this, I wouldn't rule out another visit, if you're a fan of a Barcelona-style night out then this is the perfect place for recovery the following day. There's nutrients wherever you look and the menu clearly signals gluten-free, raw and numerous other options. I've only just realised there wasn't any meat on the menu, just oily fish and plenty of inventive plant-based options.
It wouldn't be a city guide without a spot of vintage, would it? I always like the idea of browsing the colourful arrangements more than the actual purchase though, I'm fussy and a piece would have to be pretty special for me to buy it. That's not to say that there's no potential at PNB Vintage, there were rails of leather and patched suede for days. I'm sure you could pick up a right gem, provided you're in the right frame of mind.
There also needed to be a concept store on the list too, it's just a rule. Jaime Beriestain may just stick to homeware, but there's no need to want for anything else with this selection. This is where I would pick up a few nice accent pieces, most of us renters won't be able to splash out on a full set but it's nice to pick up a bowl or tea towel here and there. You'll also be spoilt for choice giftwise and I noticed a few different ranges that I hadn't seen anywhere else, notably the branded candles in perfect geometric packaging.
Brunch & Cake
Last but not least, we have Brunch & Cake. Everyone in here seemed to be a tourist but that's no bad thing, there's plenty of tasty classics with a slight twist and the waiters speak with perfect English (I promise I'll learn more than three words next time). Pop your name down beforehand as there's often a queue.
So that's everything covered I think? The main thing is to walk everywhere if you're able, know that their Boris bikes concept is completely not for tourists and to always check the opening times. let me know if you've been to Barcelona recently and any other discoveries you've found!