the skinny on staying fat & happy in:

Arc del Triomf, Josep Vilaseca i Casanova, 1888, Barcelona

WE RECOMMEND ONLY WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED PERSONALLY; THUS THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE, BUT RATHER REPRESENTS THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE WERE ABLE TO EXPLORE GIVEN THE TIME FRAME OF OUR VISIT.

THAT SAID, WE STRIVE TO SAMPLE AS MUCH OF THE CULTURE AS POSSIBLE EVERYWHERE WE GO, SO THE FOLLOWING MAY BE READ AS A CURSORY SELECTION BEST CHARACTERIZING THE RESPECTIVE PLACE.

BECAUSE WE LIMIT OUR ADVICE TO WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED FIRSTHAND, WE ARE HAPPY TO OFFER MORE DETAILED INFORMATION UPON REQUEST.

Food

Quimet i Quimet

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d717377-Reviews-Quimet_Quimet-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A hole-in-the-wall, standing space only, high-energy cupboard of a gourmet food shop (colmada) turned tapas bar serving montaditos. The Spanish verb montar translates as ‘to ride’, thus montaditos are literally various dressing ‘riding’ small twists of crunchy bread. Quimet i Quimet offers the uniquely Catalan quirk of using conservas as toppings. The owners are super friendly and hard working, with miraculous memories for who ordered what and how much. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling in a huge selection of wine, beer and cava, or Catalan champagne. We certainly aren’t the first to write up this truly special establishment, and we certainly won’t be the last.

Recommendations

Cold-smoked salmon, yogurt and truffle honey (salmó, yogur y miel trufado)

Cured beef (bresaola)

Prawns, caviar, yogurt and red pepper (langositas, caviar, yogur y pimienta)

Cheese plate (plato de queso)

Catalan champagne (cava)

Wine (vino)

Advice

Come early, fight your way into a spot at the bar, and point at an item that looks appealing. The chefs will create something fantastic using whichever ingredient you choose to highlight. We found it more enjoyable to order one round of montaditos and finish them before ordering the next round, rather than ordering multiple at once. This slowed down the meal, allowing us to better savor the flavors of the exquisitely outlandish conservas, chat with other customers, and get ideas as to what to order next by observing what our neighbors were eating. Even though the place is always packed, the staff is extremely attentive and won’t make you wait long between courses.

Estimated Price

Half cheese plate: €3.50

Montadito: €2.50-3.50

Glass of wine or cava: €2.00-4.00

 

Escriba

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d240759-Reviews-Escriba_Rambla-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

Housed in an historic Catalan Art Nouveau (modernisme) shop adorned with vibrant mosaics, laced windows and wrought iron fixtures, Escriba is an elegant, eye-poppingly colorful pastry and chocolate shop (pastisseria y xocolateria) with surprisingly affordable offerings. This is the place for a true cocoa lover to try Spanish hot chocolate. Escriba’s potions are thick, nearly black, and can be zested with cayenne, candied lavender, raspberry or hazelnut. Even if you aren’t much of a sweet tooth, the sight of the place is enough to merit a visit. The current owner trained as an artist before unexpectedly inheriting the business due to a family tragedy, a blessing in disguise for his customers, because he succeeded in applying his aesthetic craftsmanship to Escriba’s gastronomic delights. Many of the treats on display are veritable sculptures you can eat.

Recommendations

Hot chocolate with cayenne (xocolata con cayenne)

Catalan fried custard pastry (xuxo)

Custard puff pastry (cremadet)

Advice

Generally speaking, you want to avoid eating on las Ramblas, Barcelona’s stately but swamped pedestrian boulevard. Escriba is one diamond in this rough. Though the original location is on Gran Via, the architecture of the Ramblas shop complements the decadent experience. Escriba’s xocolata is rich enough that we found the small portion to be plenty for one, and the large enough to be shared by two. Churros are more typical of Andalucia than Catalonia so don’t expect them here and approach with caution elsewhere in Barcelona, but a simple croissant makes an ideal substitute for soaking up hot chocolate, which is otherwise eaten with a spoon as it’s too dense to sip.

Estimated Price

Small hot chocolate: €2.50

Pastry: €2.50

Croissant: €1.50

 

Koku’s Kitchen

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d6405312-Reviews-Koku_Kitchen-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

Oddly cosmopolitan, the owner of this Spanish ramen bar is from somewhere in the UK, Scotland or perhaps Scandanavia. They make a mean bowl of soup nonetheless. The broth glistens with hot globs of oil and is loaded with noodles, marinated slow-poached eggs, seaweed, bean sprouts, tofu, kim-chi, and if you so choose, hunks of pork belly.

Recommendations

Spicy pork ramen

Spicy vegetarian ramen

Advice

Though it’s definitely tempting to down an entire serving, one bowl is filling enough to be shared by two if you’re scrimping. Also (and it truly hurts Michael, as an avid fan of pork belly, to admit this) the spicy vegetarian version is a bit cheaper and tastes surprisingly similar to the carnivorous equivalent. We don’t know how they do it.

Estimated Price

Ramen: €9.00

 

Bar La Plata

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d1191525-Reviews-Bar_La_Plata-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A greasy-spoon of a tavern, with barrels of wine occupying a good portion of the meager seating space, the folks behind Bar La Plata do exceptionally well by sticking to what they know. Only four plates are offered, the trophy being the plate of little, salty fish, lightly battered and fried in olive oil, eaten bones, heads, tails and all. The sort of place that has such rustic charm one almost feels guilty sharing the secret. Almost.

Recommendations

Fried small fish (pescaditos)

House red wine (vino tinto)

House white wine (vino blanco)

Advice

Regrettably, our plans to return and try the extent of the menu were interrupted by a train departing for Granada, so we can’t cite first-hand experience regarding anything apart from the pescaditos and vino tinto. However, ancient wisdom dictates that in promising places serving only a handful of dishes, where all of those dishes are remarkably easy on the wallet, it’s often best to sample each one. We also strongly suggest a porron, a spouted vessel enabling the imbiber to shoot jets of wine into his or her mouth from epic distances. Don’t wear white.

Estimated Price

Plate of fried fish: €2.50

Small glass of wine: €1.20

 

Bar Del Pi

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d2467666-Reviews-Bar_del_Pi-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A quintessential tapas bar in the Barri Gotic, Bar Del Pi was reputedly an undiscovered gem just a few years back. The quirky owner took such pride in his establishment as to have had his portrait emblazoned on the sugar packets. Recently, for better or worse, it has gained notoriety among locals as a bit of an Anglo tourist (guiri) trap. This has caused a slight increase in prices, but the reasons for its popularity aren’t hard to understand given the central location and homey atmosphere. All things considered, tapas are still reasonable and they make the best patatas bravas we found. Fried cubes of potato, crispy on the outside and pillowy inside, are drenched with spicy bravas sauce and garlic lemon aioli. A staple of Barcelonese bar fare, every place has its own take, but these shined brightest, and not just from the sheen of olive oil.

Recommendations

Patatas bravas

Advice

Sit inside the restaurant, take stock of the tapas displayed in the glass case on the bar and watch the world go by through the windows fronting the Plaça del Pi. The terrace in the square is attractive, but like most restaurants in Barcelona accrues a surcharge for outdoor service.

Estimated Price

Patatas Bravas: €3.50

 

Pizzeria l’Antica Napoli

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d4187030-Reviews-Pizzeria_L_Antica_Napoli-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A somewhat secluded, authentic Italian style pizzeria. The dough is light and chewy, the cheese, meat and vegetables fresh.

Recommendations

Go for the special and let the chef choose, they want you to come back after all

Advice

Every Tuesday evening all classic pies are discounted to €5.00 a piece if you’re willing to take them to go (para llevar), a steal by Barcelonese standards. They are Napolitano style, meaning one person can easily eat a whole pizza. Unless you’re staying in Poble-sec this place is a bit out of the way, but it is among the best options near Plaça Espanya and Montjuic. Why not stop by after visiting the Olympic stadia or historic cemetery, or better yet, grab your pies and hike up the hill to picnic in the gardens of the Palau Nacional?

Estimated Price

Classic pizza on Tuesday evening: €5.00

Classic Pizza any other time: €9.00

 

La Cova Fumada

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d943811-Reviews-La_Cova_Fumada-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

Barcelona’s coast used to be jammed with ramshackle wood frame restaurants serving up the fish caught just moments ago, hauled in directly off the water. Sadly they were nearly all cleared out as victims of the city’s attempts at ‘urban renewal’. Though not on the beach, La Cova Fumada retains the spirit of these ancestors and looks a likely haunt for Hemingway. With a floor littered with napkins, fresh seafood prepared simply by the family manning the kitchen and a constant line out the door, its easy to see this place is doing something right. Often recommended, and for good reason, we still found the place packed with locals.

Recommendations

Potato fritters (bombas)

Salted cod (bacalao)

Razor clams (navas)

Advice

Get there early and put your name in, it certainly isn’t a reservations sort of scene, but if you hang around the square and watch the line you can pleasantly kill the twenty minutes or so it takes for a table to free up. The staff was exceedingly helpful, so accept their recommendations.

Estimated Price

A few plates of fish or shellfish, fritters and a half-liter of wine: €32.00

 

La Mia Gelateria

Where

https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-MIA-Gelateria-Gracia/663189667079794?sk=info

What

A quaint gelateria holding down the corner of one of the most attractive squares in Barcelona.

Recommendations

Tiramisu

Rum raisin

Pistachio

Advice

On another square only a block away, Plaça de la Revolucion, lies the more commonly touted Cafeteria Gelateria Italiana, but we found the flavors of this shop more profound. The gelato also incorporates other beloved Italian desserts, such as tiramisu. The dealmaker, however, was the location. Plaça de la Revolucion is wonderful, but Plaça de la Virreina, watched over by the humble church of Sant Joan, holds a sort of sublime peace, only ever punctuated in our visits by impromptu flamenco. Apparently La Mia Gelateria has newer branches elsewhere in the city under the name Bellamia, but to reiterate, this spot is really worth the trip.

Estimated Price

Small cup of two flavors: €2.50

 

La Piadina

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d1899137-Reviews-La_Piadina-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

An award-winning piadini (Italian flatbread sandwich) shop. The perfect place to grab a fairly filling, affordable lunch made with only the freshest ingredients and high caliber cured meats.

Recommendations

Cured beef (bresaola)

Arugula, tomato, eggplant and cheese (ruca, tomate, albergínia y formatge)

Advice

Like the gelateria described above, la Piadina is opposite the church of Sant Joan. Pick out a piadini and either find a bench in the shady Plaça de la Virreina or eat on the go as you explore the mesmerizing streets of Gràcia. Carrer Verdi, just a block away, makes for a particularly nice stroll.

Estimated Price

Piadini: €5.00

Piadini, glass of wine and tiramisu: €7.50

 

Carrer Blai

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1969684-d7066647-Reviews-L_Atelier_de_Blai-Province_of_Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A pedestrian street chalk full of bars serving up a near infinite selection of Basque style pintxos, literally translated as ‘spiked’, meaning Spanish things skewered to a piece of toast. The stretch has quickly become a favorite lunchtime and late night destination for young locals. The true home of the Catalan analog to cocktail hour, la hora del vermut.

Recommendations

Vermouth (vermut)

Dressed piece of toast and a small beer (pintxo y una caña)

Advice

Supposedly only Thursday evenings, but in practice nearly every day of the week, over a dozen bars along Carrer Blai offer pintxos for €1.00, or a pintxo and a caña for €2.00. All pintxos come skewered with a toothpick; simply hand over your toothpicks when you’re ready to pay and the bartender will figure your total. Every bar is distinct and it takes a handful of pintxos to feel satisfied, so we recommend wandering from one to another following any whims that may arise. Every bar also offers a house vermut, a briny, aromatized, fortified wine definitely worth a try. Or two. Our favorite place for pintxos was l’Atelier and for vermut Blai 9, though Blai Tonight is more popular than either. To each their own.

Estimated Price

Dressed piece of toast: €1.00-1.50

Dressed piece of toast and a small beer: €2.00

House vermouth: €1.70-2.50

 

Jonny Aldana Bar

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d3180624-Reviews-Jonny_Aldana_Bar-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A hip yet laidback vegetarian (technically pescatarian) wine bar and restaurant creatively combining ingredients to produce unfamiliar dishes.

Recommendations

Eggplant, anchovy and tomato sandwich (abergínia, tomate y anchoa bocadillo)

Vermouth (vermut)

Advice

Jonny Aldana’s is one place that doesn’t follow the rule of adding a surcharge for sitting outdoors so seize the opportunity. They have an extensive wine menu so spring for a glass if you care to, or stick with the vermut as we did which was quite good and slightly less costly. We also tried the intriguing tapenade of kidney beans with chocolate and chipotle as well as the roasted pumpkin sandwich, both or which where nice, but not as notable as the eggplant sandwich, hence their absence from the preceding recommendation. A complementary dish of olives was also included with our meal, always a good touch.

Estimated Price

Appetizer, sandwich and drink: €13.50

 

Montequerria Lasierra Colmada

Where

http://www.yelp.com/biz/mantequeria-la-sierra-barcelona

What

A gourmet shop (colmada) with all the old school charisma you would expect from a mid-century soda counter or turn of the century apothecary. The walls are stocked with scores of bottles of wine and liquor, many of which were quite mysterious to us, and a glass counter contains a vast selection of cheese, meat, caviar, tapenades, preserves and canned seafood (conservas). Perfect for picnic items.

Recommendations

Spicy cured sausage (chorizo)

Catalan cured sausage (butifarra)

Canned seafood of choice (conserva)

Caviar

Catalan cheese (formatge)

Catalan extra dry champagne (cava natura brut)

Advice

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. The jovial gentleman behind the counter was more than happy to advise us as to which foods were most typical of the area and which conservas were both worth trying and affordable. Canned seafood in Catalonia is of a very high quality, not like that in the states, and can get rather steep if you opt for la crème de la crème. Happily some of the more economic options are equally gourmet.

Estimated Price

Tuna belly, cured sausage, cheese, caviar and cava: €20.00

 

Café Mandacaru

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d3984408-Reviews-Cafe_Mandacaru-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A cozy, classy joint with live jazz most Thursday and Friday evenings, rotating house wines and exceptional vegetarian fare.

Recommendations

Hummus

Croquettes (croquetes)

Eggplant Parmesan (parmesà d’albergínia)

House Red Wine from Cariñena, Beso de Vino 2011 (vino tinto de la casa)

Advice

Normally Mandacaru would have been out of our price range, but thanks to an exceedingly generous special they offered via the website bcnrestaurantes.com, we were able to make an occasion out of our dinner there. If such a limited-time only special isn’t available, they always have a combination dinner on the menu that goes for about €30.00 for two.  Check the cafemandacaru.com to see if there will be a musical performance the night you plan to visit. 

Estimated Price

Croquettes, hummus, eggplant parmesan and two glasses of wine: €17.50

 

Bo de Be

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d1519230-Reviews-Bo_de_B-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

A backpacker’s oasis in a city of relatively expensive cuisine. At the risk of spreading a broadly sweeping stereotype we’ll say what we experienced to be true; Catalans are frugal folks. While one might think a frugal culture would make for an economic travel destination, in actuality thrifty people make thrifty business owners. Barcelona certainly isn’t renowned for the culinary generosity characteristic of other Mediterranean nations like Italy. For the poor among us who can’t quite seem to fill up on tapas alone, this sandwich shop is a blessing. Most Spanish sandwiches, (bocadillos) consist of little more than a crusty baguette, a few slices of cured ham (jamón) and some smeared tomato. Though there’s a bit of a Greek influence at work here, Bo de Be boasts ‘American style’ sandwiches, meaning they’re massive. A baguette more appetizingly chewy than most in Spain is overloaded with as many toppings as you care to choose from over a dozen options: smoked salmon, chicken, beef, cheese, olives, lettuce, spinach, corn, tomato, onion, tzatziki, hot sauce, and so on.

Recommendations

Smoked salmon sandwich (salmó ahumado bocadillo)

Advice

The only downside of the remarkable price to product ratio offered by this establishment is that it draws a crowd, and not a particularly Barcelonese one at that. Backpackers and foreign exchange students flock to this place in droves, so expect to wait at least 20 minutes for your turn to be served. At least the line out the door ensures it’s easy to find. The makeup of the crowd effectively kills any ‘cultural’ quality eating here may have once had, though you may see the odd local skip the line and rattle of a prioritized order in Catalan. This can undeniably be frustrating when you’re stuck in the never ending cue, but try to keep in mind that you are indeed the invasive species here, and the woman behind the counter, who often works alone, serving upwards of a hundred hungry customers an hour, is busting her ass nonetheless. Taking into account the laughably low cost of your eventual gargantuan sandwich there’s really no room to complain. In the meantime make some friends among all your English-speaking peers.

Estimated Price

Sandwich: €4.00

 

La Boqueria & Mercat Santa Caterina

Where

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d190164-Reviews-Mercat_de_Sant_Josep_de_la_Boqueria-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2015831-Reviews-Mercat_Santa_Caterina-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

What

La Boqueria is the historic market in Barcelona, once located just outside the medieval city walls so farmers could easily bring their produce to urban citizens, it has long been consumed by the Raval neighborhood and fronts onto las Ramblas, the primary pedestrian boulevard of Barcelona dividing the Raval from the Barri Gotic. Mercat Santa Caterina lies on the other side of the Barri Gotic in el Born, and offers a more easily navigated, if marginally less exotic, shopping experience.

Recommendations

Cured Iberian ham (jamón Ibérico)

Fresh figs or seasonal fruit (higueras)

Cheese (formatge)

Chocolate (xocolata)

Olives (olivas)

Empanadas

Advice

Certainly not the cheapest market, visiting La Boqueria is regardless a must. The stalls at the front and sides of the market bear polychromatic chocolates, legumes and fruits of such abundance as to put even the most sprawling supermarkets to shame. If you venture further into the interior, prices drop substantially and treasures such as cured meat, cheeses, and Argentine empanadas and dulce de leche lie in wait. The occasional skinned goat head may also hide amongst the bounty, eyeballs included. For a less intensely crowded, more moderately priced market with comparable selection try Santa Caterina, whose contemporary architecture is another form of eye candy.

Estimated Price

Cone of cured ham: €5.00

Cone of cheese: €3.50

Cup of olives: €1.50

Empanada: €2.00

Basket of figs: €1.50

 

Entertainment

Gaudir+BCN Club

https://www.gaudirmesbcn.cat

If you’re visiting Barcelona for more than a week, or plan to pass through Barcelona and return more than a week later, this club is a great deal. Historically, Gaudí’s famous Park Güell, being a public park, was naturally open to the public. Recently, to protect the park from the ever-present flood of tourists, the Ajuntament of Barcelona decided to fence in the most impressive areas and charge an €8.00 admission fee for adults. Though the ostentatious motive of preserving a monument is admirable, it understandably feels to many as if a public asset has been appropriated for the sake of the government’s treasury. The act has effectively turned the place into a police state, or more euphemistically a museum. No vendors are allowed to hawk their wares or foodstuffs, no buskers are allowed to play music, no children are allowed to climb on the benches. Still the seamlessly integrated landscape and architecture deserve appreciation. Though we have our opinions, without preaching or taking a side on this controversy, suffice to say there remain only two ways to enter the ‘Monumental Zone’ without paying. The first option is limited to residents of the immediate neighborhoods who can apply for a permit but have to show proof of residency, thereby excluding tourists. The second is to join the Gaudir+BCN Club, which is open to anyone, resident or not. The only catch is that you must apply in person at the Ajuntament offices in central Barcelona, and it takes a week (for us it actually took about 10 days) for an application to be processed. By joining the club you’re also entitled to free admission to the Montjuic castle, and one free guided tour of the city per year.

 

Discounted movies Mondays & Wednesdays

http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/entertainment/cinemas/original-language-cinema-barcelona.html

A handful of cinemas in Barcelona offer half price or discounted admission either Monday or Wednesday evenings. Better yet, a handful of cinemas in Barcelona, known as VO for versión original show films in their original language, sometimes with Spanish subtitles (VOS for version original subtitulada). Not only do these provide affordable entertainment, but enjoyable Spanish lessons to boot. Be sure to check the billing ahead of time to see if the film you plan to attend is marked VO or VOS, as dubbed versions do occasionally exist.

 

Free museums Sundays & holidays (MNAC Saturday)

http://www.timeout.com/barcelona/museums/barcelona-museums-free-sundays

Many of Barcelona’s exquisite museums are free to visit Sunday afternoons and on national holidays. Details as to which are free when can be found at the link above.

 

The Beach

http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/attractions/barcelona-spain-beaches.html

The beach is always free. Locals find it a bit of a joke in comparison to the picturesque Costa Brava or Costa del Sol, but the sand is soft and cleanish, the water is blue, the sun is warm, and the watered-down mojitos or beers the pacing hawkers peddle are cold. We found it pleasant and clearly the significant number of other beach-goers did too. We trust you will as well, if you come from a landlocked area.

  

Festes de la Mercè

http://merce.bcn.cat/en

To put it simply, if you can visit Barcelona at the end of September, do. The Festes de la Mercè, held annually in honor of the city’s patron saint are among the most colorful parties in Europe. All of the events- fireworks, concerts, parades, circuses, art installations- are entirely free, and some are truly out of this world. Browse our photos for proof.

 

Montjuic

http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/Parc-de-Montjuic

Montjuic is a mountain (hill?) bounding the city to the south, where the primary venues for the Olympics were constructed. It also houses vast parks and gardens, a historic cemetery, and is crowned by a Bourbon castle. The castle charges an admission fee (which can be waived by joining the Gaudir+BCN club), but one can walk around the Olympic stadia, the parks and gardens, and the historic cemetery free of charge.

 

Transport

T-10 or T-Mes Card

http://www.tmb.cat/en/bitllets-i-tarifes

The metro system of Barcelona is reliable and comprehensive. You can cut the cost of trips in half by buying a punch pass valid for 10 rides or an unlimited pass valid for one month. The monthly pass is only a better value if you average four rides per day.

 

Neighborhoods

Airbnb has already published highly illustrative descriptions of these neighborhoods, so we’ll merely tell you our two favorites and leave the descriptions to them.

El Poble-sec

https://www.airbnb.com/locations/barcelona/el-poble-sec

Gràcia

https://www.airbnb.com/locations/barcelona/gracia

Books

much of the information embedded in our narratives was sourced from these readings:

barcelona by robert hughes, 1992

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/599106.Barcelona

A monumentally informed and irresistibly opinionated guide to the most un-Spanish city in Spain. Hughes scrolls through Barcelona's often violent history; tells the stories of its kings, poets, magnates, and revolutionaries; and ushers readers through municipal landmarks that range from Antoni Gaudi's sublimely surreal cathedral to a postmodern restaurant with a glass-walled urinal. The result is a work filled with the attributes of Barcelona itself: proportion, humor, and seny- the Catalan word for triumphant common sense.

 

Homage to barcelona by colm tóibín, 1990

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43701.Homage_To_Barcelona

This book celebrates one of Europe's greatest cities- a cosmopolitan city of vibrant architecture and art, great churches and museums, intriguing port life and extravagant nightclubs, restaurants and bars. It moves from the story of the city's founding, and huge expansion in the nineteenth century, to the lives of Gaudi, Miro, Casals and Dali. It also examines the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil War, the Franco years, and the transition from dictatorship to democracy which Colm Tóibín witnessed in the 1970s.

 

Barcelona: Architecture, city and society 1975-2015 by chiara ingrosso, 2015

http://www.amazon.com/Barcelona-Chiara-Ingrosso/dp/8857200566

Over the last twenty years Barcelona has reached the apex of its public appeal, and the time has come for a critical evaluation of its recent past. Barcelona is an emblematic example of how a European and Mediterranean city can be radically transformed. Starting from the 1980s, through investment in contemporary architecture, tourism, and advanced services, the city abandoned its traditional identity as an industrial center. After 1992, following the Olympics and the international success the city enjoyed as a result, Barcelona became a "model" city, renowned for its architecture, urban projects, attention to urban morphology, and context. Through extensive "in the field" investigation, giving voice to key figures in culture, architecture, and politics, and a vast array of images, the author gives a critical account of the various "stages" in Barcelona’s recent history, putting them into historical context and drawing parallels with local and international currents.

 

homage to catalonia by george orwell, 1938

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9646.Homage_to_Catalonia

In 1936 Orwell went to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s experiences.